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Know Your History: This week’s Cowboys-Giants matchup has a historical first

One of the NFL’s best rivalries hasn’t been so great in recent years.

Dallas Cowboys v New York Giants

The Cowboys are reeling from their 1-3 start to the season, and are in desperate need of a get-right game. Luckily, the New York Football Giants and their dismal 0-4 record are coming to town. The Cowboys have won the last six games against this team, and are hoping they can add one more to the long saga of this historic rivalry.

Playing in the same division has meant these two teams facing each other quite often. In fact, the Cowboys and Giants have met at least once in every single season in the Cowboys’ franchise history, with the lone exception being the 1982 season that was shortened due to a player’s strike. As a result, the Cowboys have faced the Giants in 115 games; only Washington and Philadelphia have more matchups against America’s Team.

Oddly enough, only one of those 115 games came in the postseason. We all know that game, too. The 2007 Cowboys team, in Wade Phillips’ first year in Dallas, featured a dominant defense and a high-scoring offense led by Tony Romo in his first full season as the starter. Dallas won seven in a row to bolster their strong 13-3 finish, locking up the top seed in the NFC and clinching homefield advantage through the playoffs.

Then along came the Giants, whom they had swept in the regular season by a combined score of 76-55. New York had jumped out to a 6-2 start but finished 4-4 and clinching a Wild Card berth. Their late-season struggles had many counting them out, but an upset in Tampa Bay over the Buccaneers sent them to Dallas, where they scored another upset thanks to an interception Romo threw on fourth down with nine seconds left in the game.

The Giants went on to win the Super Bowl that year, and it sparked the beginning of what became a very heated rivalry between Romo’s Cowboys and Eli Manning’s Giants. Not that there wasn’t already a healthy rivalry between these two teams, but the added argument of which team had the better quarterback - not unlike the Dak Prescott-Carson Wentz debate prior to this season - added fuel to the fire.

To put it lightly, this rivalry hasn’t been the same since. While the Cowboys made a seamless transition from Romo to Prescott while keeping their tradition of coming up short every year well intact, the Giants have rapidly turned into a dumpster fire.

After winning their second Super Bowl in five seasons after the 2011 season, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin went 28-36 over the next four years and was forced to retire. Offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, who had been in New York the previous two seasons, was promoted to head coach. After an 11-5 finish his first year on the job, everything seemed to be going well. Then the 2017 season began, and the Giants lost their first five games of the year. Tensions between McAdoo and the players boiled over when he benched Manning for Geno Smith, and McAdoo was quickly fired with four games remaining.

New York brought in the duo of Dave Gettleman as general manager and Pat Shurmur as head coach. They famously refused to take one of the draft’s very talented quarterbacks and committed to the 37-year old quarterback by taking Saquon Barkley instead. A year later, Gettleman drafted turnover-prone Daniel Jones, who became their starter by the end of the 2019 season. Surprisingly, his turnovers continued in the NFL:

Jones’ lack of development throughout his rookie year played a part in the decision to fire Shurmur and replace him with former Patriots special teams coordinator Joe Judge, who promptly hired Jason Garrett as his offensive coordinator. But at 0-4, the results haven’t been great for this new regime. Dallas is in a similar situation. They moved on from Garrett, of course, and hired Mike McCarthy to push them over the hump, but he has failed to do so thus far.

But this game, regardless of the final score, will make for a historic moment in the Cowboys-Giants rivalry. That’s because it will be the first time that these two teams have played each other when both teams have been led by a new head coach. How’s that for a fun fact?

As for the all-time record, Cowboys fans don’t have to worry too much, as they have a comfortable 68-46-2 lead. The thing that Cowboys fans do have to worry about is winning the game. Losing to a rival is bad enough, but the added insult of losing to a winless team and dropping to a dismal 1-4 record could be an early dagger in the heart of a young season. To put it simply, it would be real nice if McCarthy’s Cowboys could get that 69th all-time victory against the Giants this Sunday.