The New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys have an extra day to prepare for each other leading up their Monday Night Football matchup at MetLife Stadium.
The Giants are 2-0 for the first time since 2016, the year they swept the season series with the Cowboys and book-ended an 11-game winning streak by Dallas in the process. This year, the Cowboys are 1-1 coming off a victory over the Cincinnati Bengals with backup quarterback Cooper Rush, who is filling in for the injured Dak Prescott.
"Playing on Monday night is always special, but the things that help you win a game on Sunday at one o'clock are the things that help you win a game on Monday," coach Brian Daboll said. "And I think that's where our focus needs to be is there's plenty of things that we needed to correct from Week 2, from Week 1. You're always evaluating where you're at as a team, whether it's after a loss, after a win. You're doing research on scheduling, making adjustments. You never want to come out and say, 'Well, we weren't prepared in that regard.' We're working hard to keep improving as an organization all the way around. We look forward to playing on Monday night and trying to build off on some of the things we did well and improve on the things we haven't done well."
Here are three keys to victory on Monday night:
11 is the Micah
After two weeks of focusing on running backs, the Giants' turned their attention to the other side of the ball in identifying potential game-wreckers. Micah Parsons, the 12th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, notched two sacks in each of his first two games this season, making that 17 total in his first 18 career games. The Penn State product three sacks in his next two games to become the fastest player to reach 20 career sacks since they became an official statistic in 1982. The Giants will try to pass the buck to the Commanders, whom Parsons faces next. Parsons had three quarterback hits against the Giants as a rookie with no sacks; however, Dallas swept the season series.
"He's a problem," coach Brian Daboll said. "He's a dynamic football player. And he can play multiple spots. He does. You'll see him at linebacker. You'll see him at defensive end. He has rare pass-rush ability. We're going to have to have a good plan for him. He's fun to watch when you're not getting ready to play him. I'll give him that compliment. He just does things that are pretty impressive on the football field."
Daboll continued, "I've seen him play in a variety of spots. He plays in the stack behind a loaded-up box. We have to know obviously where he's at. But our tackles are going to have to do a good job, too. You can't chip him or ... you can't do it on every single play. I think that's the beauty of where they move him around. I think [Dallas defensive coordinator Dan] Quinn does a great job with his scheme. He's a dynamic player."
Tighten the chinstraps, 11 to the football
While Ezekiel Elliott has fewer than 100 rush yds in a career-high 14 straight games, the Cowboys also have Tony Pollard, who is also a threat to catch passes out of the backfield. The Cowboys have won nine of the past 10 meetings with the Giants, averaging 128.1 yards on the ground in those victories.
"A lot of that is, first of all it's very difficult for the defense when you have two running backs of their caliber – especially when they're out there on the field at the same time," defensive coordinator Wink Martindale said. "But either one of them could be Pro Bowl running backs. They basically have very similar skillset. I've always said going against Zeke that once he gets his shoulders squared and he starts heading downfield, he's a problem. You better be ready to come tackling. So, it's going to be another one of those games where we got to tighten up our chinstraps and try to get 11 people the football."
Clean it up for a faster start
The Giants (2-0) have started the season fast despite two sluggish first halves. They have a minus-13 scoring differential in the first half compared to plus-17 in the final 30 minutes. The Giants know the slow starts will eventually catch up to them, especially on offense. So, what is the solution?
"I think what we're emphasizing is the communication part of it at the line of scrimmage, player to player, coach to player, coach to coach," offensive coordinator and play-caller Mike Kafka said. "The communication part of that and then the execution part. We've kind of taken a step back within ourselves and said, 'Alright, how can we be cleaner on this scheme? How can we be cleaner detailed on these types of situations?' That's really been our focus, I think. If we can start to build on that, I think that's when we'll start seeing a faster start for us."
The Giants will wear their all-white Color Rush uniforms on Monday Night Football against the Cowboys.