Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A look at the keys to victory for the Cowboys in their matchup against the Giants - Dallas Morning News (blog)

Less than nine months after the New York Giants defeated the Cowboys in a winner-take-all game to determine the NFC East title, the two division rivals meet again at the same place. A lot has changed since the previous encounter.

The Giants went on to win the Super Bowl while the Cowboys entered the off-season with a plan to revamp the secondary that was bombarded by Eli Manning. Here is a look at the keys to victory for the Cowboys.

Protect Romo

The Giants’ pass rush is fierce. In the final eight games they played, including four postseason contests, they accumulated 26 sacks. Jason Pierre-Paul, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck can make any offensive line look weak. The Cowboys’ front must stand strong for Romo to do his job. If it does, then Romo may flourish. In his career, Romo has produced a better quarterback rating â€" 97.9 â€" against the Giants than any other NFC East opponent he has faced.

Stop Eli

Eli Manning has been a thorn in the Cowboys’ side for years. In his career against Dallas, Manning has amassed 33 touchdown passes and thrown only 18 interceptions. Last season, he picked apart the Cowboys’ secondary â€" producing a combined quarterback rating of 109.7 in two games against Dallas. He did so while avoiding pressure. In 120 minutes of football, the Cowboys managed to sack Manning only twice. Dallas has to increase that total if it wants to keep Manning and the Giants’ offense at bay.

Establish running game
Jason Garrett preaches balance. But his offense has rarely shown it. Against the Giants last season, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo dropped back 78 times, attempting 68 passes. The running backs, meanwhile, had only 37 carries. Dallas needs to make a concerted effort to give DeMarco Murray the ball. Last season, the Cowboys prevailed in each game he rushed 20 or more times.

Force turnovers

Rob Ryan wants a defense that not only snuffs out plays but also makes them. Yet the Cowboys struggled to do all of the above last season. That was especially true against the Giants, when Dallas’ defense was skewered. The Cowboys struggled to stop the Giants, in part because they only forced one turnover against them in 120 minutes of football. They need to do better Wednesday.

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