Giants-Cowboys preview


DALLAS (AP) — Tony Romo was in his first full season as a starter when the Dallas Cowboys last strung together enough wins to have one of the NFL’s best records. The franchise didn’t exist the only other time a running back started a season the way DeMarco Murray has.

Speaking of history, that’s how the New York Giants categorize last week’s dud in Philadelphia.

The Cowboys (5-1) play their first NFC East opponent Sunday after winning at Super Bowl champion Seattle. That triggered questions whether they can live with the sudden — and some would say unexpected — success.

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After three straight 8-8 seasons and a four-year playoff drought, there’s a pretty simple answer.

“Anybody who’s been around here for an extended period of time, you know that humility’s right around the corner,” executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “This team’s been, this organization’s been mediocre the last three-plus years. So no one’s taking anything for granted.”

The Giants (3-3) are the team stuck in the .500 rut right now after dropping their first two, bouncing back with a three-game winning streak, then losing 27-0 at Philadelphia, co-leader with Dallas in the division.

New York also lost receiver Victor Cruz to a season-ending patellar tendon tear in his right knee against the Eagles, and will be without leading rusher Rashad Jennings for the second straight game.

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“I think we’ve responded well to the losses when we’ve had them or when we’ve had a tough game this year,” said quarterback Eli Manning, who was sacked six times and held to 151 yards passing. “We know we have to play better than we did.”

Murray is a big reason the Cowboys are in position for their first six-game winning streak since 2007, when they were the top seed in the NFC at 13-3. That was the first full season with Romo, and they lost in the playoffs to the Giants. New York went on to beat undefeated New England in the Super Bowl.

The fourth-year back can become the first with seven straight 100-yard games to start a season. With 115 yards against Seattle’s then-No. 1 run defense, Murray tied Hall of Famer Jim Brown’s record of six in a row set in 1958 — two years before the Cowboys debuted.

Things to consider as Manning goes for his fifth win in six games in the relatively new home of the Cowboys:

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ROMO AND THE CROWD: Romo admitted after Dallas beat Houston two weeks ago that he had to rely heavily on silent counts in his own stadium because of tens of thousands raucous Texans fans. He said at the time that fans needed to “tighten up selling our tickets a little bit,” but he was quick with unsolicited praise for the home folks this week.

“It’s going to be loud,” Romo said. “We’re going to make it very difficult, I think, in the stadium.”

NEW YORK FRONT: The Giants’ offensive line was so bad against Philadelphia, right tackle Justin Pugh apologized on Twitter. They gave up eight sacks overall, right guard John Jerry was penalized three times, and left guard Weston Richburg had an unnecessary roughness penalty that cost the Giants a touchdown. New York also struggled in the running game after three straight solid outings.

MURRAY’S LOAD: Murray is on pace for 424 carries, eight more than Larry Johnson’s NFL record with Kansas City in 2006. There have only been five 400-carry seasons, according to STATS. Emmitt Smith has the franchise record with 377 in 1995.

The Cowboys tried to ease the load against Seattle by mixing in Joseph Randle and Lance Dunbar in the first half against the Seahawks, but Murray still had 29 carries and six catches.

OGLETREE’S OLD TEAM: The Giants signed Kevin Ogletree to fill Cruz’s spot, and just time in time to face the Cowboys in his New York debut. He spent his first four seasons in Dallas and had his only career 100-yard game when the Cowboys upset the Super Bowl champion Giants in the 2012 season opener. Ogletree spent last season with Tampa Bay and Detroit. The Lions cut him on Sept. 20. He has 999 career yards receiving.

BIG D: The surprising Dallas defense is coming off its best game against the Seahawks, allowing season lows in all three yardage categories (206 total, 80 rushing and 126 passing) and first downs (nine). The defending champs were only in the game because they were essentially handed 17 points though special teams errors and a botched snap. Linebacker Rolando McClain had a clinching interception, his second pick of the season.