Cornerback Adoree’ Jackson is the only current member of the Giants who played on a team that was beaten so convincingly early in the season and enjoyed a victory against the same rival later in the year. In his 2017 rookie season, the Tennessee Titans lost in Houston in their fourth game, 57-14. Nine weeks later – ironically, the same gap between this season’s Giants-Cowboys games – the Titans beat the Texans, 24-13.
But the Giants face a daunting task. They are 2-7 after losing their last two games. Dallas was defeated last week in Philadelphia but is 5-3. The Cowboys haven’t lost consecutive games since Weeks 11 and 12 of the 2021 season, to Kansas City and Las Vegas (on Thanksgiving). Dallas has won 11 straight home games, the longest active streak in the NFL. They are 3-0 at home this year, outscoring their opponents, 111-33. The Cowboys have won 12 of their last 13 matchups with the Giants, including the last five, and have won six straight home games vs. their NFC East rivals.
Dallas is the NFL’s third-highest scoring team (27.5 points a game) and are sixth in scoring defense (18.5 points-per-game).
Dak Prescott threw seven touchdown passes the last two weeks. Giants quarterbacks have thrown five all season. And tomorrow, Tommy DeVito will become the first rookie free agent quarterback to start a non-strike game for the Giants in the common draft era (since 1967).
How does a team that suffered a 40-point shutout loss at home gain the confidence to play that same team on the road nine weeks later?
“It’s all about the attitude and the guys that you have,” said defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches. “If you want the same result, you do the same thing, but if you want something new, you do something different. It’s as easy as that. It’s about the next play. You can’t worry about what happened last time. All you do is change your approach and worry about this game. It’s the biggest game because it’s the next game. You don’t worry about what happened in the past. You worry about what you control.”
“I think defensively, we’re playing a lot better ball than we started out in the beginning of the season, and we know what our recipe of success is going to be,” linebacker Bobby Okereke said. “It’s going to be stopping the run and it’s going to be creating turnovers. We’re going to do as good of a job as we can to put our offense in a position to have a short field and score and make this an exciting game.”
The Giants admit they’re entering the game under less-than-ideal circumstances. But like all worthy professional athletes and coaches, they appreciate the opportunity to compete. No one outside their locker room expects them to win. They believe it can be done, even with Daniel Jones and Tyrod Taylor sidelined with injuries. Jones’ season is finished because of a torn ACL. Taylor has a rib cage injury but hopes to play again this season.
“Obviously, you don’t start the season expecting to lose both of your top quarterbacks,” Slayton said. “It’s not really how you envision it going. But in the NFL, division games, rivalry games, you’re always going to fight. You’re going to fight every week, but in your division, there’s always just a little bit more to it.
“There’s never going to be a time where the Giants – when you and me are both long gone, the Giants will always go out there and fight the Cowboys to the best of their ability and fight the Eagles and the Commanders to the best of your ability. There’s always going to be that. So, I think that’s mostly where it stems from. Regardless of who we put out there, we’re going to fight them the best we can.”
Okereke is new to the NFC East but knows the competitiveness that is characteristic of all division games.
“When you’re playing Dallas, when you’re playing the Eagles, when you’re playing the Commanders, it’s going to be chippy, feisty games, and very competitive games,” Okereke said.
All eyes will be on DeVito, who will be the 10th rookie quarterback to start a game this season, the most since at least 1950. He has tried to silence the outside noise and focus solely on the task presented him.
“For me, it’s football, right?” he said. “It’s another day, it’s a game that I’ve been playing since I was really young. But it will be my first start in the NFL, so I know it’s going to be some emotion there. Especially with the great supposed atmosphere in Dallas. I have not been, but I heard it’s a really nice stadium so I’m looking forward to it.”
DeVito freely admits no one expected hm to be in this position.
“I think it’s a shock to everybody,” he said. “Not to have one quarterback but two quarterbacks go down, I mean it’s tough. The quarterback position runs the team, and to have one and two go down like that, you would’ve never guessed that to happen. But it’s a physical game, injuries happen, it’s part of it, it’s the worst part about the game, but it’s the next man up mentality and like I said before, I’m going to rely on everyone else around me.”
Perhaps the top name on that list is Saquon Barkley, whose 97 carries in the four games since he recovered form a sprained ankle – including a career-high 36 vs. the Jets – are 20 more than any other running back. He will likely carry a heavy load tomorrow.
“I don’t go into any game with any expectations of how many times I’m going to touch the ball,” he said. “Just want to be in position to win football games, go out there and compete and whatever that takes, I’m willing to do.”
“A great thing about Saquon is he’s such a good team player,” coach Brian Daboll said. “Whatever we need.”
With the top two quarterbacks down, DeVito up and the Cowboys hoping to celebrate another big victory, the Giants need him now as much as they ever have.