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10 Keys to Victory: Cowboys


1) Interior pressure. This applies to both sides of the ball for the Giants, but especially their defense. The defensive ends are always highlighted (and rightfully so), but defensive coordinator Perry Fewell said during his Thursday press conference that his tackles will be key. It's paramount for guys like Chris Canty and Linval Joseph to get the push up the middle to limit running lanes for Tony Romo with his ability to scramble. They also gained an advantage this week when the Cowboys had to replace their starting left guard Montrae Holland, who suffered a season-ending biceps injury. 

2) Limit Jason Witten again. The tight end, whose streak of seven-straight Pro Bowls came to an end this week, was held to three catches for 12 yards in their first matchup. Romo has other talented weapons, but none like the security blanket that Witten provides.

3) Brandon Jacobs' intensity. As well as his play, Jacobs' voice has been crucial over the grueling second half of the season. While Ahmad Bradshaw was forced to sit the first half of the game in Dallas, Jacobs tallied 101 yards and two touchdowns. Bradshaw received double the amount of carries last week against the Jets, but Jacobs needs to continue his physical running. 

4) Communicate. Everyone remembers Dez Bryant's 50-yard touchdown in Cowboys Stadium.

5) Wrap up Felix Jones. The running back, who is battling his own hamstring injury, came in relief for the injured DeMarco Murray and gashed the Giants for 106 yards (6.6 yards per carry). This time around, the Giant had the entire week to prepare for the back with a knack for breaking tackles.

6) Someone waiting in the wings needs to step up. Tight end Jake Ballard (knee) has been ruled out again. Hakeem Nicks (hamstring) and Mario Manningham (knee) are listed as probable, but still are nursing injuries. That means players like Travis Beckum, Ramses Barden, Bear Pascoe and Devin Thomas need to fill the void. 

7) Win the field position battle. Tom Coughlin referenced this key a few times this week, calling on the special teams for help. Lawrence Tynes booted six touchbacks in the last meeting while punter Steve Weatherford limited return specialist Dez Bryant to just one attempt. But that was in the enclosed Cowboys Stadium.

8) Force a turnover. It's a painfully obvious sentiment, but Romo hasn't thrown an interception since Nov. 24, tossing eight touchdowns in the meantime. And between two teams that match up so well, the game usually boils down to the turnover margin.

9) Protect Eli. Here's another one of those obvious tips. But given the Cowboys' pass rushing abilities, the Giants managed to keep Manning upright as he was only hit twice with no sacks.

10) Finish strong. Never has the theme of the season been more evident.

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