There is a well-known concept that a wounded animal is a desperate animal and as such is far more dangerous. This is a concept that humans learned from the time we first found out that fire made us warm and made our food taste better. It is also a concept that is used liberally in the sports world when describing athletes or teams that find themselves in a precarious situation. At 8:25 pm EST on November 30th, the Dallas Cowboys were a desperate team.
They were blown out in three straight games and squandered the control of their ability to qualify for this season’s playoff tournament. The vultures were swirling around everyone from the head coach and starting quarterback to the starters in a beleaguered secondary. The Cowboys players and coaches were hearing words like: unprepared, overrated and (the ultimate insult) – quitter.
After a slow start, the team played like that desperate, wounded group. By now, you know the stats put up by the Cowboys on offense, defense, and special teams. If you haven’t, check out this game recap. Dallas faced a familiar division foe and needed a win to save their season and, quite possibly, several coaches’ and players’ jobs. Sound familiar? It should as this is the position in which the New York Giants find themselves as they “welcome” the Cowboys into Met Life Stadium this weekend. Their playoff chances are gone, as are Ben McAdoo (their head coach) and Jerry Reese (their longtime general manager), but everyone left in that building knows they have a four-week audition to determine the future track of their respective careers.
When Dallas arrives in New Jersey, they will look across the sideline at a team with talent that has underperformed based on preseason expectations. There will be ample reason for professional pride and self-preservation to drive the Giants to play spoiler to the Cowboys’ already slight playoff hopes. This past Thursday, the Cowboys rode that same emotion to a dominant victory over a hated division rival. This allowed them to quiet the noise swirling around them significantly a loosened up what was reportedly turning into a very tense locker room at the Star.
The Giants would like nothing better than to do the same this weekend to the team their fans hate the most. The change at head coach will probably result in Eli Manning getting his starting quarterback job back. There has been a lot of chatter around the Giants that their team quit on coach McAdoo. His ouster has the potential to re-energize the entire team. The New York “Football” Giants will walk on the field Sunday at noon with all the desperation of a team trying to wash away the taste of a season gone awry.
The Redskins saw how this could be devastating to an opponent as they were pounded into submission in all three phases of the game last Thursday night. With everything the Giants have endured over the past two weeks, the Cowboys better be on high alert and bring their “A” game if they want to avoid the same punishment they dished out in the previous week.
The Cowboys desperation powered the team to win against Washington that served as a pressure release. If they are serious about keeping their playoff hopes alive, they must be prepared to get that same kind of effort from their rivals from New York and weather the storm of emotion they will probably face. The turmoil in New York. That emotion, coupled with a talented roster, can make them a very dangerous team.
Cowboys fans must hope the team understands what they are facing this Sunday and can meet the desperation of the Giants with their own desperation to stay alive in the playoff hunt. If they can’t bring the same level of energy this week, they will lose to the Giants and rekindle all the negativity that was burying them seven days ago. However, this time there will not be enough games left to have a chance to reach their playoff goals. The beauty of football is that we will get to see how all this plays out in a few short days.
I can’t wait to see if Jason Garrett has his team ready for what faces them.