To Perry Fewell, take out the secondary breakdowns against Dallas on Dec. 11 and you have a product that looks much more like the one the Giants produced on Saturday in their 29-14 win over the Jets.
"I don't think there was really anything different. They had the same hunger and the same attitude. We had breakdowns," the defensive coordinator said when describing how the team could play so poorly vs. Dallas but so well vs. the Jets. "We had a couple breakdowns in the [Dallas] game and we didn't have any breakdowns with 98 plays or 89 plays in the ballgame. Why that occurs, how that occurs -- if I knew that beforehand I would be a genius. But we just had breakdowns in the Cowboys ballgame and we were just on top of our game last Saturday. Hopefully we're on top of our ballgame this Saturday."
The lasting image of the Giants' defense from that 37-34 win over the Cowboys is one of disarray and confusion. The play most remembered from that game was receiver Dez Bryant streaking down the right sideline for a 50-yard touchdown with no defender within 20 yards of him. The two players on that side of the field, Antrel Rolle and Corey Webster, both claimed they were in the right spot on that play.
Heading into this week's Dallas game, the Giants are coming off perhaps their best effort of the season. They held the Jets to just 14 points, the fewest points given up all season, and had five sacks and two interceptions in the game. The Giants were able to bring pressure all game and the secondary didn't give up the customary big plays that it has yielded all season long.
"I thought they performed well Saturday," Fewell said. "I thought their intensity, the focus, their drive, no matter what they were going to fight through and they were going to play for 60 football minutes. That's the Giants defense that we both know. That's what we're looking to get this Sunday also, is to play 60 football minutes."
Playing similarly to how it played Sunday will be key for the Giants defense against Dallas. The Cowboys are one of the most explosive offenses in the league and torched the Giants for 444 total yards in the previous game. If the Giants want to get back to the playoffs, it will be key for the defense to not have the big breakdowns it did last time.
"We plan on having a more cohesive product on Sunday night than we had the first time we played them," Fewell said. "I think the Cowboys are a very talented football team. They can buy time because they can block, (Tony) Romo can scramble and they can do a lot of things to hurt you and break down your coverages. I think that we’re playing better than we’ve played and I think our guys feel a lot more confident in the things that we’re doing."