WHAT: Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants
WHEN: Sunday, Jan. 1, 2012 - Noon (CST), Fox
WHERE: New Meadowlands Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
SERIES: Cowboys lead series 56-40-2
- Final Stage- The NFL has made sure some of its marquee teams are playing meaningful games in the final week of the season. The finale against the Giants marks the fifth straight year the Cowboys end the regular season against a division rival. With only four teams in this usually tight NFC East, there's a good chance the final game will have some division-race implications, if not for the NFC Wild Card picture as well. * Jason's Place - As a former quarterback of the Cowboys and Giants, it's likely to be a story every time Jason Garrett returns to the Meadowlands as the head coach. And considering his first game as interim coach last year turned out to be a 33-20 upset win over the Giants, Garrett will forever be linked to this road trip. * Dez Watch - Wide receiver Dez Bryant has only played 12 career games and just two against the Giants, but he's already torched New York in both games, totaling four touchdowns. He caught two and had a punt return score in the first meeting and then had another brilliant touchdown catch in the Meadowlands rematch, where he recorded his only 100-yard game of the year. In all, Bryant has seven catches for 158 yards and three touchdowns against the Giants. Match-Up Worth Watching:
Back in the glory days of the '80s and early '90s, it was Lawrence Taylor and Carl Banks. Michael Strahan took over in the 2000s and then it was Osi Umenyiora. Now it appears Justin Tuck is the beastly pass-rusher the Cowboys need to stop. Tuck has been a disruptive force in games against Dallas, so whoever lines up opposite him will have their hands full. The Cowboys have uncertainties at tackle with Doug Free being a free agent and the question if first-round pick Tyron Smith will play left or right tackle. But make no mistake, someone, if not two guys, will be focused on Tuck.
Giants' Draft Review:
The Giants ended up drafting a player that was linked heavily to the Cowboys in the early mock drafts. So Dallas will now see Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara twice a season after New York took him with the 19th overall pick. The Giants also added North Carolina defensive tackle Marvin Austin in the second round, and selected two linebackers in the draft, taking Michigan State's Greg Jones in the fifth round and Jacquian Williams of South Florida in the seventh.
The Cowboys last visit to the Meadowlands was definitely a memorable one and a game that might have turned this franchise around. Only time will tell if Garrett will be the right head coach for the Cowboys, but his debut as the interim coach back in mid-November of 2010 was one he'll never forget. Garrett took over for the recently fired Wade Phillips, inheriting a struggling 1-7 team. But Garrett and the Cowboys went into New Meadowlands Stadium and played with a renewed energy, beating the Giants 33-20 in one of the biggest surprises of the NFL season. It was a day for the rookies, as wide receiver Dez Bryant made several spectacular catches, including an early touchdown grab. But it was the play of rookie cornerback Bryan McCann that changed the game. McCann's 101-yard interception return for a score - the longest play from scrimmage in franchise history - helped turn the tide in favor of the Cowboys, who not only gave Garrett his first win, but started off a second half of the season that saw the club finish 5-3.
One To Remember:
!With Troy Aikman still sidelined with a broken collarbone, Garrett took over for another start early in the 1998 season. But this Monday Night showdown with the Giants was dominated by another player. Deion Sanders took the game over in three phases, catching a 55-yard pass from Garrett on offense, before scoring two touchdowns - one on a punt return and another by interception. Sanders' efforts earned him a unique NFL Prime Time Player of the Week award for his all-around efforts on the big stage. All of it led to an impressive 31-7 win by the Cowboys, who went on to a perfect 8-0 record against NFC East teams in 1998.