EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – What a memorable night we could have in MetLife Stadium.
The 2-0 Giants host the 1-1 Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football in the first NFC East showdown for each. The rivalry and the big stage have created an anticipation and excitement not often attached to a Week 3 contest. It's the Giants' first Monday night game in front of their home fans since Nov. 4, 2019, a 37-18 loss to the Cowboys.
A victory would propel the Giants into territory they haven't visited recently and further energize a fan base excited by the successful start. And those fans will have another reason to cheer at halftime, when seven Giants legends will be inducted into the franchise's Ring of Honor.
Let's start with the visuals. The Giants will wear their all-white color rush uniforms and have asked fans to wear the same color for a White Out. Running back Saquon Barkley played in several White Out games in his three seasons at Penn State. As did Dallas star Micah Parsons.
"If it's anything like State College, it's unbelievable," Barkley said. "Words really can't describe it. Literally, when I found out we were going to do that, went right back to memories of playing in State College. I had a lot of good memories in the White Out. Hopefully, that can rub off this Monday too."
Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale will participate in the evening's theme.
"We expect it to be rocking," Martindale said. "I heard it's a White Out, so I'll wear my white sleeves, I guess."
It would be a shock if he didn't, because since his arrival no one on the Giants has ever seen Martindale wear anything but long white sleeves and a dark blue vest.
The Giants will wear their all-white Color Rush uniforms on Monday Night Football against the Cowboys.
But this game is far more important than the teams switching the white and blue jerseys normally worn in a Giants-Cowboys matchup. Consider…
*The Giants can start 3-0 for the first time since 2009, when they won their first five games.
*That was the last season they started 2-0 at home, which means they've never done it in MetLife (which opened in 2010).
*This is the Giants' only NFC East game until Thanksgiving Day, when they will face the Cowboys in Dallas.
"These divisional games, you understand the rivalry and the tradition of these games." quarterback Daniel Jones said. "Especially in the NFC East, where these franchises have played each other for a long time and there's a lot of historic battles back and forth. It's fun to be part of that. Divisional games mean a little bit more in terms of getting a win. So, we're trying to do the best we can to prepare and play our best ball Monday night."
*Brian Daboll can join Dan Reeves (1993) as the only Giants coaches to win their first three games with the team. Steve Owen was 3-0 in 1930-31, but the first two victories were with co-coach and fellow Por Football Hall of famer Benny Friedman.
*The Giants could enjoy a much-needed reversal of their recent fortunes against the Cowboys. Dallas swept the season series in 2021 and have nine of the last 10 meetings. The Giants' lone victory during that stretch was in the 2020 season finale. They have not swept Dallas since 2016.
*Speaking of reversing fortunes…the Giants have lost 10 consecutive prime time games, including four at home. Their last nighttime victory was on Monday, Nov. 12, 2018, when they beat the 49ers in San Francisco, 27-23.
"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. 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."
The Giants have since lost six straight and eight of their last nine Monday night games, including games in MetLife Stadium to Detroit in 2017, Dallas in 2019 and Pittsburgh in the 2020 season opener, when fans were prohibited from attending because of the pandemic. Their last home Monday night victory was a 21-20 decision vs. Cincinnati on Nov. 14, 2016.
*The Giants' all-time Monday night record is 25-45-1, including 9-13 at home. They are 3-8 against the Cowboys on Monday night, including 1-4 at home. The victory was in 1999.
All of which means the Giants can take a big step in proving that this season is going to be a significant improvement over their grim recent pass.
"We see every opportunity as a chance to show everyone what we can do and we're going to try to play our best football every time we step on the field," Jones said. "Monday night game, there's some energy, there's some excitement to it. Every time we step on the field we're trying to play as well as we can and show everyone what we can do."
*The seven new inductees to the Ring of Honor will increase to 50 the number of Giants greats who will have their names displayed in MetLife Stadium. They are former running backs Joe Morris, Ottis Anderson and Rodney Hampton, defensive end Leonard Marshall and Ronnie Barnes, the senior vice president of medical services who has been a member of the team's medical staff for 47 years, will join this year's class of inductees. The final two members of the 2022 Ring of Honor class - defensive back Jimmy Patton and halfback/receiver Kyle Rote - are deceased.
All seven of the honorees were members of Giants championship teams: Patton and Rote in 1956; Morris in 1986; Anderson and Marshall in 1986 and 1990; Hampton in 1990; and Barnes has been with the organization for all four of its Super Bowl victories. Morris, Marshall and Anderson increase to nine the number of players from the 1986 Super Bowl XXI championship team who are in the Ring of Honor.
*The Giants hope to be more productive in the first half. Their two first-quarter field goals week account for all their scoring before halftime in two games this season.
"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 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."
*Martindale and his defensive assistants have done a deep dive on Cooper Rush, who will start his second game in a row as the Cowboys' quarterback in place of Dak Prescott (thumb injury). Last week, he completed 19 of 31 passes for 235 yards and one touchdown in a 20-17 victory against Cincinnati. Rush also started and won a game last year in Minnesota.
"He's got two career starts, but he's also 2-0 with those career starts," Martindale said. "So, this guy's a proven winner. And we've gone back to college (Central Michigan) tape on his favorite throws because obviously when the schedule came out, we worked ahead. But then after the thumb injury, some of the coaches went and looked at some of his (Rush's) college throws, all of his preseason games since he's been there. And he's a smooth operator that guy, and he doesn't get rattled. Our job is to try to rattle him."