IRVING, Texas – It was almost three months ago that Jerry Jones held a microphone in his hand and invited the people of Oxnard, Calif. to "come to that (Cowboys) stadium and watch us beat the Giants' ass."
Well, that game is finally here. As if every game in the NFL wasn't crucially important, both teams have a little extra incentive to win this Sunday. The Cowboys are looking to sweep the Giants, which could prove to be crucial if the division race comes down to the wire. They are also looking to beat New York for the first time in the new Cowboys' Stadium.
Head coach Jason Garrett talked about the importance of trying to take advantage of their home crowd.
"We really like playing at our place," Garrett said. "What we want to be able to do is play better and create a home field advantage for ourselves. It's the nature of this league. The Giants have been a very good road team. They've had a lot of success here."
Giant's running back Ahmad Bradshaw put it in much simpler terms.
"We have fun in Dallas' stadium."
There is no doubt that these two teams are rivals, and the combination of Jones' comments in July and the Cowboys defeating New York in front of its home crowd in September, only gives the Giants even more incentive to want to beat America's Team.
Jones may have started the war of words to kick off training camp, but the Giants players have had no problem picking up where he left.
Earlier in the week, Giants' cornerback Antrel Rolle talked about the importance of the game.
"Obviously, Dallas beat us the first week and we're definitely looking for some get-back," Rolle said. "We are going out there ready to be some head busters."
On Wednesday, defensive end Justin Tuck laughed off Jones' comments about "kicking the Giants' ass."
"I don't play Jerry," Tuck said. "If he wants to put on a jersey and lineup, I'll welcome that. I don't think Jerry's going to do any kicking of my posterior."
Tuck also seemed to take some issue with all the attention that the Cowboys receive despite the Giants being the team with two Super Bowls in the past five years. When asked if he thought the Cowboys were jealous of the Giants' recent accomplishments, Tuck's response came across as very sarcastic.
"It's hard to be jealous when everyone loves you," Tuck said. "You're America's Team."
When asked if he was being sarcastic, Tuck responded by saying, "You can take it for what it's worth. But it's somewhat true. I don't think it's sarcasm when there's a truth aspect in it."
Never shy to speak his mind, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan brought a little sarcasm of his own when he spoke to the media on Friday. Ryan was not happy that the Giants and the media apparently seemed to suggest that New York's Week 1 offensive struggles had more to do with their own offense than it did with the performance of the Cowboys defense.
"They're the Super Bowl champs. We're going to do the best we can," Ryan said, before sarcastically adding, "Like they've said before, it was all them. That's the only reason they self-destructed against us last time. Hopefully they have another bad game. It would take a miracle."
Ryan did not clarify exactly who he was referring to that was not giving his defensive players credit in the New York game. But he certainly went on to make clear that he did not agree with that sentiment.
"I have big ears, I hear things," Ryan said. "I hear things after the game and I was like 'that's a bunch of (bull).'"
The relative animosity likely has more to do with the importance of this particular game for both teams and the intensity of the rivalry in past years than any lack of mutual respect. A win for the Giants would give them an early stranglehold on the division lead. On the other hand, if the Cowboys can accomplish what they did in New York to start the season, it would bring them within a game of the Giants and, perhaps, springboard them forward with the momentum they have been looking for.