Key matchup: Giants run game vs. Cowboys defense

Posted Oct. 25, 2012 @ 4:04 p.m.
Posted By Eric Edholm

Giants run game vs. Cowboys defense

Cowboys ILB Sean Lee (toe) is out for the season. The Giants might be limited with RB Ahmad Bradshaw’s foot a lingering problem. Who has the edge?

“This is the second week and he clenches his teeth and goes and does it,” Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said of Bradshaw. “But the fact of the matter is if we have to adjust, then we will adjust.”

You could see the Lee-less Cowboys shift into some 4-3 looks, which they have shown this season, but that would not be a full-time solution. It just would be something the Cowboys could use on first and second downs to alleviate not having their best tackler on the field. It also would put a bigger front line out there with two nose tackles and two larger, space-eating ends.

We’ll see how much newly signed LB Ernie Sims factors in. He has never played in a 3-4 in the pros. Dan Connor would be Lee’s primary replacement. The Cowboys still must tackle, and Lee was their best seek-and-flow linebacker.

The Giants — no matter who is out there — will attack you head on, with either Bradshaw or Andre Brown or rookie David Wilson. C David Baas is back practicing again, so that’s a good sign for a line that generally speaking has done a nice job — as have the tight ends — when blocking for basic power plays.

But in the Week One battle between these teams, the Cowboys were incredibly disciplined with their gap control, playing almost exclusively two-deep coverage in terms of stopping the run. Bradshaw ripped loose for 33 yards in the fourth quarter but he gained just 45 yards on his other 16 carries. Wilson was pulled after he lost a fumble, but he has been working back into the rotation of late, having regained the coaches’ trust.

A lot of what the Giants can do running the ball will be because of their passing prowess. In Week One, Victor Cruz dropped several passes and Hakeem Nicks was battling through injury. And yet Eli Manning still managed to hit for 10 yards per completion and avoid mistakes.

Expect a bigger Manning game — he owns the Cowboys in Dallas — which could make the run all the more dangerous. Whether it’s Bradshaw, Brown or Wilson. Or all three.