New York Giants: Keys to Beating the Dallas Cowboys

Richard ReschCorrespondent IDecember 4, 2009

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 20:  Quarterback Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants during play against the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium on September 20, 2009 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

1. Stop The Run

You may remember their Week Two matchup in which the Cowboys ran for 251 yards on only 29 carries, good for an embarrassing (for the Giants) 8.7 yards per carry.  Marion Barber, Felix Jones, and Tony Romo each had rushing touchdowns.

Simply put, if the Cowboys come even close to those numbers, the Giants will be blown out.  They were lucky to come away with a victory last time and this time, all of the other pieces will not fall into place. 

The Giants cannot hope that Tony Romo will have a repeat performance of his worst game of the year.  If they allow the Cowboys to run wild again, it won't matter what else they do.  The Giants haven't had a game like that since, but you can be sure the Cowboys will try to find what worked in that game and get back to it.

2. Key On Miles Austin

When these two teams last met, Tony Romo was a mess, completing only 13 of 29 passes for 127 yards, one touchdown, three interceptions, and a QB rating of 29.6. 

Unfortunately for the Giants, two things have changed since then: the Giants secondary has gotten weaker and the Cowboys' passing attack has gotten stronger.

The Giants have lost safety Kenny Phillips, who had two of those three interceptions.  The loss of Phillips exposed the Giants' secondary as a glaring weakness. Also since that first meeting, the Cowboys have started to feature Miles Austin in their passing attack, and that is not a good thing for opposing defenses.

In the first meeting, Tony Romo tried to force the ball to Jason Witten and Patrick Crayton, throwing seven passes to each of them.  Miles Austin, on the other hand, saw only one target, which he caught for a 20-yard gain. 

Since then, Austin has taken over as the team's starting wide receiver opposite Roy Williams and has flourished.  The Summit, N.J., native has caught 42 passes for 824 yards and eight touchdowns and could be on his way to his first Pro Bowl (if voters vote correctly).  He is on pace for roughly 1,200 yards and 12 touchdowns. 

Not bad for someone who went undrafted out of Monmouth.

If the Giants are going to have any shot at stopping the Cowboys offense, they will have to stop Austin from getting the ball.  With the ball in his hands, he can run for miles (sorry).  Austin has a reception of 40 or more yards in five of 11 games and four of his last seven.

3. Air It Out

The Giants' running game has been pathetic and I see little reason to believe it can pick it up now.  While most people probably believe the Giants' No. 1 priority should be to re-establish the running game, I'd like to see them go another way with it: an all-out aerial show.

The Cowboys probably expect the Giants to come out and try to establish the run; they'll be ready for that. 

Instead, give Eli Manning the keys to the car and let him decide the fate of the team's season.  Let him run some no-huddle drives and take Kevin Gilbride's play-calling out of the equation. 

If Eli is healthy enough to play, there's no reason he shouldn't be given the opportunity to throw it all over the field.

In their last meeting, Eli threw for 330 yards and two touchdowns.  Mario Manningham and Steve Smith each had 10 catches for 130-plus yards and a touchdown.  Yes, it was in the Jerry Dome, but the point is that this Cowboys team can be beaten by the pass. 

The Cowboys give up 225 passing yards per game, 21st overall in the NFL; they are much more stout against the run.

I've been barking up the "establish the run" tree all season to no avail.  So screw it.  Let's air it out.

4. Block

This is pretty self-explanatory: the offensive line has been putrid and unless it can create some holes for Brandon Jacobs and give Eli Manning more time to find his receivers, the offense will go nowhere.  What used to be the biggest strength of this team is now a weakness. 

Perhaps there is no solution to this problem.  Maybe the offensive line has just lost some of its skills.  Maybe the wear and tear of the NFL, as well as age, has finally caught up with these trench warriors.

But for at least five more games, the line needs to get its mojo back.

5. Remember December

Since 1997, in games in or after the month of December (including five postseason losses), the Cowboys are 19-39 (.328). 

Since 2002, it's been even (slightly) worse: 11-23 (.324).

As mystical and magical as a December swoon may seem, the results speak for themselves.  With a sample size of almost 40 games played after the month of November over the last 11 years, the Cowboys have won just under one-third of their games.  That's bad.

This isn't really a strategy, just something to keep in mind.  Four keys should be enough.


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