IRVING, Texas – The challenge of facing two of last season's top-10 leading receivers never seemed to overwhelm rookie cornerback Morris Claiborne.
Giants wideouts Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz combined for 10 catches, 96 yards and no touchdowns on Wednesday against the Cowboys secondary. In two games against Dallas last year, the duo combined for 25 catches, 491 yards and two scores.
Despite facing two of the most dynamic receivers in football, Claiborne said he was cool and comfortable, and had no butterflies in his first NFL game.
"I believe that when you play the position that I play, you have to be confident," Claiborne said. "You have to go out with a lot of swag and you have to feel like you're that guy. I take a lot of pride in that."
Claiborne was tested on the first play of the game. Eli Manning targeted Nicks on an incomplete pass down the left sideline between Claiborne and safety Barry Church. Claiborne said he knew he'd get challenged more than he had in any preseason game, and he was up to the task.
"I was expecting them to come back the next time," Claiborne said. "Every time I lined up, I was thinking, 'This ball is coming to me.'"
Head coach Jason Garrett said he thought Claiborne's history playing in the Southeastern Conference's marquee matchups would help him against the Giants. Claiborne never seemed awestruck by the magnitude of the NFC East rivalry.
"They caught some passes on him, but that's the nature of the NFL, and the big thing when you're a corner is when they do have some success against you, what do you do the next play?" Garrett said. "I thought he did a good job of coming back and competing in the game."
Cruz, who caught 82 passes for 1,536 yards last season, dropped three passes and never seemed himself against a remodeled Cowboys secondary, featuring offseason pickup Brandon Carr.
The longest pass play of the game came on a difficult 39-yard grab from Manning to Domenik Hixon, which Brandon Carr could have intercepted if he had timed his jump better. Besides that catch and a 26-yard play to Cruz, the Giants rarely got behind the Cowboys defense.
"Every time I had an opportunity to go out there and get a one-on-one opportunity with Cruz, or any receivers out there, I tried to make the best of it," Carr said.
Eli Manning finished with 213 yards passing and one touchdown. In two games last year, he threw for a combined 746 yards and five touchdowns.
Carr and Claiborne confirmed Wednesday why they were added to the Cowboys roster in the offseason.
"Certainly, we made adjustments to try to be better against a team like the Giants or Philadelphia in the future," said owner Jerry Jones after the game. "This has been on our mind a long time."