By Shawn Lealos
If you want to know what this weekend’s big game between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants means, just listen to the words of Giants defensive lineman Jason Pierre-Paul. The brash and talented defensive star said that the game will be a fight and finished by saying there will “be a lot of blood spilled out there.”
It sounds like bulletin board material for the Dallas Cowboys, but the players and coaches are just shaking the words off as just that – words.
Dallas knows that the Giants want revenge after the Cowboys won the opening game of the 2013 season over their rivals. That was the first loss of a six-game losing streak. New York has finally started to turn things around, and although they would be dead-in-the-water in any other division, they still have hopes of winning the NFC East and sneaking into the playoffs. To do that, they have to beat Dallas first.
Dez Bryant, a receiver who has one of the most mercurial temperaments on the Cowboys roster, deflected questions about Pierre-Paul’s declaration of spilled blood and just smiled. Bryant said that is how you are supposed to feel heading into a must-win game with a division rival. He said it is all about competition and confidence.
Bryant also likes the fact that Miles Austin is supposed to finally be healthy heading into the game, especially since Austin caught 10 passes when the Cowboys played the Giants earlier in the season. That will give Dallas a nice rotation of receiving threats, including Bryant, Austin, Jason Witten, rookie Terrance Williams, and speedy Cole Beasley.
As for head coach Jason Garrett, he didn’t put much stock into Pierre-Paul’s statement either. He said his team doesn’t need to bother with trash talking and they just need to focus on playing smarter, better football in the big game. He went on to throw sand on the fire by saying that Dallas has great respect for the Giants players and coaches and that they need to play their best football to win.
The reason for the attitudes between the two teams is obvious. The Dallas Cowboys may only be sitting at .500, but a win will put them back in first place in the NFC East. A loss will drop them into a tie with the Giants, but they will remain in second based on tiebreakers. Dallas is in the driver’s seat in the NFC East, and if they win, they control their own destiny.
However, the Giants need help. They already lost to Dallas once this season and their only win came over a Philadelphia Eagles team that previously beat them. With only one win in the division, a victory over Dallas will give them more momentum, but they still fall short of both Dallas and Philadelphia in the NFC East race. Pierre-Paul knows his Giants need to win out and play as hard as they can the rest of the season.
Maybe his comments were not meant to be bulletin board material for the Cowboys, but instead to light a fire under the Giants. If New York loses this game against Dallas, their season will likely be over barring a miracle. This is the first of many must-wins for the Giants while Dallas knows exactly what they need to do to stay out in front. New York is the hungrier team and its leaders know they have to come in with guns blazing if they want to save their season.
For more Cowboys news and updates, visit Cowboys Central.
Shawn S. Lealos is a freelance writer who graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2000 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He writes for a variety of national publications and has over 15 years of sports journalism experience. Follow Shawn on Twitter @sslealos. Examiner.com.