The New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys will meet for the second time at MetLife Stadium, and for the second time on Sunday Night Football, with this meeting having as much, if not more, riding on it than the first.
The Cowboys and Giants have been erased from wild card contention, so their hopes of making the playoffs rest on one game.
It is very simple—win and you're in; lose and you're watching from home.
When the two teams met last time, it was full of excitement if you played on the offensive side of the ball. On defense? Not so much.
Both defenses had breakdowns, allowed big plays, and basically couldn't stop the opposing offense from imposing their will.
The Giants pulled off the incredible comeback, scoring 15 points in the final three minutes and change—but the defense can't expect Eli Manning to continue to bail them out time and time again against good offenses.
Safety Antrel Rolle had this to say, according to Patricia Trainer of Inside Football:
"We're looking at it and are going to prepare for it to the best of our abilities, and hopefully we have the same intensity and focus that we had in last week's practice so we can go out there and put the stamp on it."
Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell will be getting a weapon back he has not had the entire month of September. Osi Umenyiora says he expects to return this week after believing he wouldn't come back at all this season.
"I thought so, honestly, for a while. Because everybody who has had the same high ankle sprain that I have has told me it’s four to six weeks of recovery time. And I have seen other guys who have had the same injury and try to come back like a Sam Bradford and Ben Roethlisberger and it just seems like they were completely off. So I was a little concerned about that. After last week things started to improve a little bit and hopefully everything will work out for me."
According to Ralph Vacchiano of the NY Daily News, Umenyiora has yet to commit to playing, but if he does come back it will only be if he is 100 percent.
"You have to. We have so many good defensive players, so I’m not going to go out there at 60 percent and take away what it is that they’re going to be able to do. Only if I’m able to be out there and be myself. I feel like I’m still one of the very good defensive ends, so as long as I am able to go out and be myself then I will be out there. But if not, there is no sense in taking away their reps."
Umenyiora also added what every single Giants fan around wanted to hear—that if he does play, he does not expect to cut in to Jason Pierre-Paul's playing time.
“He deserves to be the starter, there is no question about it,” Umenyiora said. “He’s a guy playing at as high a level as I have seen a defensive end play in a long time. I have been here a while, so whatever this team needs me to do, I will go out there and do. I don’t have a problem with that.”
Good. Jason Pierre-Paul does not deserve to take a back seat to anyone on this defense. He has been the clear-cut MVP of the Giants defense so far this season and to think otherwise is foolish.
That was one of the problems during the Giants' losing streak. Jason Pierre-Paul was on the field but he was not playing where he was comfortable. He was deferring to Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora, who were obviously not 100 percent healthy.
To no one's surprise, when Umenyiora went down again, Jason Pierre-Paul started playing much better.
The Giants will need all the help they can get on Sunday night; the Cowboys are a potent offense with many weapons.
Also to no one's surprise is the trash talk that has resurfaced from familiar faces this week. Brandon Jacobs says that Cowboys fans are "loud and obnoxious."
"Some of their fans are loud and obnoxious and just bad. Just everywhere you go you got some Dallas fans running their mouth about Dallas and keep going. It's not really the team and the star and all that, because they're just like any other team if the National Football League if you ask me. Their fans just really have me feeling the way I feel."
That definitely hits home for me, considering I live in Texas. Cowboys fans definitely think the world of themselves and their organization.
Of course this doesn't represent all fans everywhere, but the majority of them are convinced their organization is the greatest in the league.
Justin Tuck is humored by all of the attention he is getting for saying he hates the Cowboys.
"I’m very amused by it. What am I supposed to say? I love the Cowboys? According to D-Ware I wish I played for them. C’mon man. You all ask questions that have obvious answers to them and when I give the obvious answers people look at you like you’re crazy."
I absolutely love that about these Giants players. They make no secrets about the way they feel about the other teams in the NFC East; especially the Cowboys and Eagles.
It has obviously given them motivation against the Cowboys lately—the Giants have won four of the last five meetings against the Cowboys and four in a row in games that Tony Romo started.
They'll need to make it five in a row if they want to make the playoffs.