ARLINGTON, Texas — Eli Manning has never lost to the Dallas Cowboys in their fancy $1.2 billion stadium. Tony Romo is perfect in two season openers against the New York Giants.
Something figures to give tonight.
“I don’t think there’s anything to it,” Manning said of his 4-0 record in Arlington, which allegedly included the Giants quarterback scribbling his name, the score, the date and the words “First Win in the New Stadium” on a concrete column in the visitors’ locker room after a 33-31 victory in 2009. “We’ve had some tight games. Hopefully we can just find a way to hang in there and put ourselves in a situation to win the game at the end.”
The Giants are trying to bounce back from missing the playoffs a season after Manning won his second Super Bowl. The Cowboys are trying to bounce out of an 8-8 rut in coach Jason Garrett’s two full seasons and a three-year postseason drought.
Dallas’ dominance over New York in season openers predates Romo by quite a few years. The Cowboys are 6-0 all-time in openers against the Giants, including the last time they started the season at home in 2007 — Romo’s first full season as the starter.
“More than anything, we need to make sure that we create a home-field advantage,” Romo said. “Our fans have done a great job. We need them to be at their best on Sunday night. When they are, they’re very tough to deal with here in Dallas.”
FIVE THINGS TO KNOW:
Defensive changes: The Cowboys decided to switch to a simpler four-man front after failing to stop the Saints’ passing attack and the Redskins’ running game in season-ending losses that kept Dallas out of the playoffs. The change will highlight DeMarcus Ware’s pass-rushing skills and could lead to big years for Sean Lee and Bruce Carter if they stay healthy.
The Giants released linebacker Michael Boley and tackle Chris Canty and signed tackle Cullen Jenkins after finishing 31st in defense. End Jason Pierre-Paul needed back surgery and missed the preseason, and there are other questions with cornerback Corey Webster coming off a sub-par season.
Juggling lines: Injuries have led to uncertainty for both offensive lines. Giants center David Baas has been battling a sprained knee, and tackle David Diehl is out with a thumb injury. First-round pick Justin Pugh is starting at right tackle.
The Cowboys have a first-round pick starting at center in Travis Frederick and have had injury problems at guard all of training camp.
On the run: Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray is trying to make it through a full season without getting hurt and wants to revive a running game that had the worst per-game average in franchise history last year. The new starter for the Giants is 2012 first-round pick David Wilson.
The Dez factor: Dez Bryant nearly beat the Giants with a miracle catch late in last year’s 29-24 Giants victory, and he followed that with a wildly productive second half. Romo says the loss to the Giants was something of a tipping point for Bryant, who also ran an imprecise route that led to an interception.
Cruz control: Victor Cruz has been out with a heel injury but should be ready to go after a third straight 1,000-yard season.