Approach to the Game – Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants, December 4, 2005: In a nutshell, this game will be decided by four things:
- The Giants’ coaching staff must come up with a top-notch game plan for offense, defense, and special teams without getting too cute. Let the Giants’ best players determine the outcome of this game.
- The Giants’ players playing up to their ability. On paper, the Giants are the better team. Prove it on the field. The respect will follow.
- Keep mistakes and mental errors to a minimum. The Giants have shot themselves in the foot in three of their four losses. Don’t play afraid, but don’t hurt your own team with dumb penalties, turnovers, or playing outside the scheme. Be alert to trickery from the other team.
- Fan support.
I want to make special mention of the last point. All Giants’ fans should have learned last week how fan support CAN impact the outcome of a football game. You can make the difference. I don’t care if the Giants are down by two touchdowns or up by two touchdowns with three minutes to play in this game. Screw the weather. Don’t leave the stadium early to beat traffic. Don’t sit on your damn hands. If someone tells you to sit down and shut up, you tell that guy to go to hell. Make a difference for your football team. And God-forbid you even consider selling your ticket to a Cowboys’ fan. Do that and I will have RAZE personally visit you and seek vengeance.
It’s a five-game season. The players and coaches are fired up. Let’s get it going and get this thing done, starting on Sunday.
Giants on Offense: Dallas has a very tough defense. It won’t be easy. But the Giants have the players on offense to put more than enough points on the scoreboard to win the football game. What is needed is for the offense to start generating point-scoring drives earlier in the game. “We’re only scoring when we have to score,” says Tiki Barber. “It should never come to that. We should be able to play with a sense of urgency and consistency that allows these games not to come down to the last two minutes of every one.”
Dallas will concentrate on the play-makers: Barber, Jeremy Shockey, Plaxico Burress. It is up to these three, as well as Eli Manning, to elevate their games to this situation. They want to be considered superstars so they need to perform like it – and perform like it for 60 minutes or longer in order to win the game. Barber had 64 yards the last time these two teams played – not good enough. Burress had 55 yards – not good enough. Manning only completed 14 passes – not good enough.
The coaches and the players also need to be prepared mentally for what Dallas will do on defense. “We had a whole week of preparation for those guys, but when we actually got on the field they weren’t doing any of those things at all,” said Burress of the last time they faced the Dallas defense. “It kind of seemed like they were a step ahead of us the whole game and we could never catch up to them.” Not good enough coaching staff.
Luke Petitgout, David Diehl, Shaun O’Hara, Chris Snee, and Kareem McKenzie owe their teammates a good game. Stay focused, be explosive off the snap, play with leverage, make that extra effort to sustain that block or make that block downfield. Give Manning the time he needs. Be physical, aggressive, and smart. Knock that Dallas star into the turf.
Giants on Defense: The defense is going to be fired up and aggressive. But they also need to be smart and disciplined. I guarantee you that Parcells will call at least one trick play on offense in this game. And he will likely go for it at least one time on 4th down. Stay focused, don’t celebrate until the game is over and the game is won. Watch out for the halfback pass, a fleaflicker, or any kind of misdirection. The Cowboys will try to use the Giants’ aggressiveness against them.
Other than that, the rest is obvious. Stop the run; cover the tight end, backs, and receivers; get after Bledsoe. Force turnovers. The Giants’ corners have two interceptions this year. Make a play on the football. Take it to the house. Dominate.
Special Teams: Jay Feely has to get back to being Jay Feely. Jeff Feagles has to get back to being Jeff Feagles. David Tyree, James Butler, Chase Blackburn, Justin Tuck, Reggie Torbor, Derrick Ward, et al. – stay in your lanes, get down the field, make sound, sure tackles. Hit hard, but wrap up. Force something good to happen. You guys are the young guns, the young Turks of the team. This is your arena of carnage. It’s time for the big guys on the wedge to start blasting some holes open for Chad Morton on kick returns. It’s time for the blockers to keep Dallas’ gunners of Morton on punt returns. Watch out for fake punts and field goals! Watch out for unexpected onside kickoffs! In big games where he feels undermanned, Parcells always uses trickery on special teams. Always. Defeat that trickery and you will drive a dagger into your opponent’s heart.