This is going to be a crazy game. Both teams are really stoked. I understand when Brandon Jacobs gets into the trash talk; he is a very emotional player, has been prone to outbursts and has occasionally let his emotions get the best of him. Can anyone forget the helmet throwing incident or Jacobs scoring a TD in the playoff game down in Dallas in January 2008, in his excitement spiking the football against the play clock behind the goal post and actually breaking a light bulb? Let's just say he is an excitable man known for his trash talking. Justin Tuck on the other hand, a well spoken, soft and considered in his approach, intelligent Notre Dame graduate, captain of the team, certainly should show emotional leadership, but usually does not get into the trash talk nonsense. Not this week - he is going back and forth with DeMarcus Ware about whether he secretly wants to be a Cowboy or some idiocy like that. Sounds like something that eighth graders might argue about in the schoolyard at recess. Or maybe not - the whole "Cowboy envy" thing is a little more Freudian and eighth graders might not completely understand the sexual undertones. Anyway - you get the idea - it is sophomoric, silly and something Tuck usually is not involved in. But that shows how high emotions are running for this game. Of course, Tuck must remember the dirty, cheap shot Flozell Adams took at him, tripping him as he sailed past Flozell on his way to a sack of Romo, causing a fall, a serious shoulder injury that cost Tuck effective play for virtually the rest of the season. I am sure that colors his assessment of the whole darned team. Flozell is no longer on the team, but he and the Cowboys have a (well earned) reputation as being among the dirtiest teams in the league, especially on their home turf, where they think they have a god given right and a manifest destiny to protect their divine stadium.
I am really surprised Antrel Rolle hasn't inserted himself into the fray. It seems right up his alley.
The keys for the Giants in this game is to have the defense play emotionally and really get at the QB. Romo is no Rodgers and the Cowboys WRs, while very talented are not as diverse or deep as the Packers WRs. Giants need a solid game out of their CBs, a great game out of the LBs and DL in stopping the run and getting after the QB. On offense it is even less complex - if you can block them at the line of scrimmage, you can do damage against their DBs. I would not be averse to using max protect routinely, keeping a TE and perhaps a RB in to block, releasing the RB in a safety valve route only if the DL looks blocked. That leaves the Giants running a lot of 3 man routes, which can be a challenge to get open against 6 DBs. Giants do some of that anyway, as does every team, but not routinely on most plays. More likely, the Giants will see if they can handle the pass rush with just their OL at first and then resort to additional protection if needed. If Cowboys use a lot of max protect, Giants should show blitz and do a mixture of blitzing and dropping into coverage.
The interesting match up is Diehl against DeMarcus Ware. Diehl is considered a slightly better than average LT and Ware is considered the top at his position, but somehow Diehl has usually held his own against Ware. It hasn't always been pretty, because Diehl can look awkward at times, but he still get the job done. One of my favorite drives of the entire 2007 playoff run was the two minute drive at the end of the first half in the divisional playoff game against the Cowboys. You remember the situation - Giants scored first on a 50 yard pass to Toomer, but the Cowboys offense, especially Marion Barber and their RBs, completely took over the game after that. Cowboys had two 10 minute 80+ yard drives and put the ball in the end zone both times, the final one with 50 seconds left in the half to give them a 14-7 lead. The game looked over and the Giants defense looked beat. But Eli took the ball with 47 seconds left and moved the Giants down the field for a score to tie the game. The play I remember involving Diehl and Ware was a pass completed to Kevin Boss for about 20 yards that took the ball down to the Cowboys 2 yard line. Ware used a bull rush on Diehl and was dominating him. He pushed Diehl straight back directly towards Eli and it looked like a sack was coming. At the last second, Diehl managed to dig in his heels and stop his backwards motion, so he would not be pushed back into Eli. It looked ugly, because Diehl was back on his heels, but he got the job done and Eli had sufficient protection to get the pass off to Boss.
You can chip block a DE or give some help other ways, so perhaps the mroe crucial match up for the Giants is between 2nd-time-starter G Mitch Petrus and Cowboys interior linemen, particularly Jay Ratliff. Cowboys may try to attack the interior on his side and he had better be ready for it. Petrus was solid last week, certainly not spectacular. He did some good things in the running game, but occasionally let in some pressure in the passing game. It is a key macthup. If things don't go well, Giants could slide Cordell in at C and slide Boothe over to G. Let's get this game going already.