IRVING, Texas – When the Cowboys take the field to open the season on Sept. 5 against the Giants, they won't be thinking of their most recent preseason game against the Dolphins.
Instead, the starters will remember their most recent regular-season game, a 31-14 loss to the Giants that completed the series sweep for New York in 2011 and sent Dallas packing home.
"You've got to give them all the credit in the world," said linebacker Sean Lee. "They're a very good team and they did a great job last year, but it's been a big motivation for us."
Lee and the Cowboys haven't forgotten. Lee said it was even harder to watch the team that kicked them out of the playoffs make their run to a Super Bowl.
"That was tough for us to see, especially when we had a shot," Lee said. "We felt we could put ourselves in a similar position. We didn't take advantage of it."
Lee said he thought about the loss in the weight room after the defeat, throughout Organized Team Activities, building up to the first preseason game and, undoubtedly, entering this year's regular season.
While the last preseason game provided a final opportunity for bubble players, it symbolized the final barrier after an eight-month wait for Cowboys starters to get another chance against their NFC East rivals.
"I think anytime you play the Giants, or you play an NFC East team, especially a Giants team that's had a lot of success like they've had, it's going to be a good test," Lee said. "The motivation is very, very high."