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Giants-Cowboys game is large

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It feels big, or as the kids used to say - large. I'm sure there's a new term for something that is bigger than the usual, but I don't know what it is. Previously, this was a game between division rivals, set on the biggest stage the NFL has to offer in the regular season, Monday Night Football. But yesterday afternoon, around 4 PM EST, the Tampa Bay Bucs kicked a few extra chips into the winner-take-all pot when Matt Bryant made a 62-yard FG to send the Philadelphia Eagles down to defeat. Now this game has the added dimension of the winner taking over the lead in the NFC East.

For Dallas, the stakes are even higher than they are for the Giants. Playing at home means you have to hold serve, you can't afford to drop games in the division on your own turf. Piled on to that is the looming three-game road trip that the Cowboys embark on after the game. And now, thanks to Matt Bryant - and Ronde Barber - the Cowboys are looking at jumping into first-place in the East.

Big game - large. Dallas and New York on Monday night has been a mismatch.

The Giants are 1-7 against the Cowboys on MNF. Their lone victory came seven years ago when Tiki Barber returned a punt 85 yards for a touchdown and took a screen pass 56 yards in the final seconds to set up the game-winning field goal.

I'm not one for previous events dictating the outcomes of games. I leave the obscure stats to the baseball contingent. You know; pitcher X has a 12 and 4 record on Wednesday games played before 7 PM against an opposing team that has the color green in their uniforms and whose mascot is a mammal. But some players in football do seem to come up, shall we say, large, in certain situations.
When Owens played for San Francisco, he caught 13 passes against Philadelphia one Monday night. He caught eight passes for 155 yards and a touchdown in another Monday night game against Pittsburgh. His 15 touchdown receptions are the second most in MNF history.

Only Jerry Rice (34) has more.


If you're a Cowboys fan and you're not in the latter stages of anticipation overload right now, then you need to check in with Jennifer Love Hewitt, because you're dead and she needs to send your spirit into the light.

Not only is Terrell Owens a distraction to the Cowboys, but Tiki Barber is a distraction to the New York Giants.

Owens is a distraction. At this point in the season, he's not even the most dangerous receiver on his team - that would be Terry Glenn. Meanwhile, Tiki Barber, the Giants' best player, created his own distraction last week when he revealed he will retire at the end of the season.

He has been defensive about suggestions he disrupted the Giants' focus. "Maybe it affects the New York Giants for 2007, but it does not affect the 2006 Giants," he said.

Barber usually gets it. But he's miscalculating here. This is not a distraction for him, because he's known this year is it for him. He rushed for 1,860 yards last year, led the league coming into this weekend with 533 yards and is coming off a season-high 185 yards last week. It's a distraction for his teammates, who spent Thursday and Friday answering questions about Barber. This will hang over the Giants all season.


The self-important media strikes again. Just because they're asking questions of the players about a team member, it's a distraction. I'm sure the Giants players are sitting around thinking; "What are we going to do on Monday night, Tiki may retire at the end of the year and the media is asking us about it. We're going to lose for sure."

Greg Ellis has made the leap to full-time outside linebacker. But he still has much to learn at the new position.

Never mind that his seemingly smooth transition from defensive end to linebacker has gone so well that there is talk among Cowboys coaches that he could have a shot at the Pro Bowl for the first time.

Ellis is tied for first on the team in tackles for losses with three, is second with 2.5 sacks and has an interception.

He's says he's growing more comfortable in his new position with each passing day.

"I am not there yet," Ellis said. "I was a defensive end for eight years. So for me to get to a comfort level, it's going to take some time. But I will say I have done way better than I thought I would."

Ellis said he needs to improve his coverage in the passing game -- namely route recognition and terminology -- because it's something he has never done before.


You should check out the rest of the article, where you'll find Ellis as the sage veteran, the guy the other players come to for advice.