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News » Different team with Romo at QB

Different team with Romo at QB

Different team with Romo at QB
Here are two words that shouldn't come into play when the Giants face the Cowboys tonight:

Brooks Bollinger.

He's the Cowboys' backup quarterback, and he wound up playing the second half of the last game between the NFC East rivals. With Tony Romo out with a broken pinkie on his throwing hand, veteran Brad Johnson was the team's starter. Cowboys fans had been pushing for Bollinger to replace Johnson the previous week, and by the time halftime rolled around Nov. 2 at Giants Stadium, no doubt the clamoring for Bollinger in Dallas was overwhelming.

But Bollinger was not.

Tonight, though, the Cowboys are back in their recognizable form, controversy and all. Romo is the starting quarterback. Terrell Owens is unhappy. Pacman Jones' career might be over. Wade Phillips is fighting for his job.

If the Giants are the Hatfields in this feud, they're getting this season's first look at the Real McCoys tonight.

"I would say that we expect the one that they are used to having down there," Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said of this version of the Cowboys. "I think they are pretty happy that Number 9 is going."

Well, maybe not everybody. Reports this past week had the receivers and the quarterback at odds over who gets the ball and how often. But clearly the Cowboys are a more dangerous team when Romo is under center. After he returned from his pinkie injury, the Cowboys won three straight games before losing last week at Pittsburgh.

This is the first time Romo will face the Giants since last January's NFC divisional playoff game. One would think that after almost a year of simmering, Romo's yearning for revenge against the team that shattered Dallas' Super Bowl dream must be nearing a boil. But he downplayed that as a motivational factor. The Cowboys have the toughest remaining schedule in the NFL, and if they can win all three games, they will reach the playoffs.

"We are just trying to reach that goal that they have already been to," Romo said of the Giants. "I think we don't hold a grudge or anything like that. We don't think about revenge. It's just that they're good."

Tom Coughlin said Romo has progressed each week since returning from his injury.

"Obviously, he can make the spectacular play," the coach said, pointing to a touchdown pass to Owens last week in which Romo bought time in the pocket before firing a laser under the goalpost. "He does affect you in the pocket with his mobility, and as he is moving around, he is looking to throw the ball. There are lots of issues."

But the Giants know what it takes to beat Romo, having done it last year in the playoffs.

"You have to be physical with the guy," Antonio Pierce said. "When you get to him, you have to hit him. He's a quarterback who buys time with his feet moving around the pocket and sidestepping, so it's key that our D-line rushes this guy and the balls he throws, we have to go up and get it."

And maybe, just maybe, they can bring the words "Brooks Bollinger" back into play.

Giants AT Cowboys,

8:15 p.m.

TV: Ch. 4

Radio: WFAN (660)

Restful thinking

The Giants can clinch a bye in the NFC playoffs before they even take the field this evening. Here are the four ways they can secure a rest for the first weekend in January:

A win over the Cowboys

A Vikings loss AND a Falcons loss or tie

A Vikings loss AND a Panthers win or tie

The Vikings-Cardinals game ends in a tie


Record: 8-5

Coach: Wade Phillips, second year (21-9)

Last week: Lost to the Steelers, 20-13

The skinny: The Cowboys haven't won a playoff game since Super Bowl XXX, and a loss to the Giants tonight would all but ensure that streak continues without them even reaching the postseason. The Cowboys have declared themselves desperate for a win, and their season - along with a few jobs - hangs in the balance. Pressure hasn't always suited Tony Romo, who has lost both his playoff appearances. RB Marion Barber missed last week's game against the Steelers and returns after having his toughness questioned by owner Jerry Jones. Amazingly, despite a minus-8 turnover margin, the Cowboys enter the day as the last team that would qualify for the playoffs. The defense ranks eighth in yardage but 17th in scoring and will have to face a Giants team that is tied for second in the NFL with 28.2 points per game.


Tashard Choice, RB

The rookie back has climbed the depth chart because of injuries to Felix Jones and Marion Barber and last week made his first NFL start against the Steelers. He wound up with 88 rushing yards on 23 carries and caught five passes for a team-high 78 yards. Barber is expected to return to the lineup this week after missing a game with a toe injury, but Choice may have proven himself to the Dallas staff . . . especially after what the similarly versatile Brian Westbrook did to the Giants' defense last week. "They are going to try to do some things that they have seen work against us," Mathias Kiwanuka said, "so I think whoever the running back is going to be back there, they will try to use him like Westbrook and try to get us on our heels."


Giants - Out: RB Brandon Jacobs (knee), LB Jonathan Goff (hamstring); Questionable: WR Domenik Hixon (foot/ankle), DT Fred Robbins (shoulder); Probable: RB Ahmad Bradshaw (neck), CB Aaron Ross (ankle), DE Justin Tuck (lower leg), T Kareem McKenzie (back).

Cowboys - Out: G Montrae Holland (ankle), CB Adam Jones (neck); Questionable: WR Miles Austin (knee), RB Marion Barber (toe); Probable: S Keith Davis (knee), S Ken Hamlin (foot), LB Bradie James (ankle), CB Mike Jenkins (hamstring), LS L.P. Ladouceur (neck), DT Jay Ratliff (concussion), LB Justin Rogers (illness), WR Isaiah Stanbeck (shoulder), LB DeMarcus Ware (knee), WR Roy Williams (foot), TE Jason Witten (ankle).

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 14, 2008

Michael Gasperson Name: Michael Gasperson
Position: WR
Age: 26
Experience: 2 years
College: San Diego
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