ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Dak Prescott will see his former coach on the other sideline for the first time when Jason Garrett and the New York Giants visit the Dallas Cowboys.
They'll both be a little preoccupied Sunday, Prescott trying to keep his video game numbers rolling while ending a two-game slide that has put coach Mike McCarthy's first season in peril.
Garrett, the offensive coordinator in New York after nine-plus seasons in Dallas ended because he couldn't lead the Cowboys deep into the playoffs, just wants to get the winless Giants in the end zone, where they haven't been since Week 2.
“Many people around the league, you have history in another place,” Garrett said. “I obviously spent a lot of time in Dallas. Forever appreciative of that and forever grateful of that, but I’m excited about this opportunity and trying to help this team get better.”
Prescott is the first player in NFL history with at least 450 yards passing in three straight games, but mostly because the Cowboys (1-3) faced double-digit deficits in the second half all three times, losing the past two to Seattle (38-31) and Cleveland (49-38).
Now the 2016 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year faces more questions on his offensive line, with Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith backtracking in his battle with a neck issue this week and at risk of sitting out for the third time in four weeks.
“Nothing but respect for coach Garrett and it will be great to see him,” Prescott said of the coach who drafted him four years ago and helped him develop as an instant star replacing the injured Tony Romo. “But this is about getting a win.”
Dallas has never given up more points and yards through four games than the 37 points and 431 yards surrendered per game. But the NFL's third-worst defense is facing a Daniel Jones-led offense tied for second worst in the league.
The Cowboys are far from out of the picture in the woeful NFC East, which Philadelphia leads entering the weekend at 1-2-1. Even the Giants aren't out of a muddle division picture.
“I would classify that mindset as false confidence,” McCarthy said. “We have to improve in a number of areas on the last time we have taken the field. I am not counting on them for anything. I’m just counting them to be the opponent.”
FANS FOR A CHANGE
A third home game with fans for the Cowboys will be the first time Giants have played in front of spectators. Fans weren't allowed in New Jersey for the first two home games, and there were no fans when New York went to Chicago and LA.
“To be honest with you, it’s exciting,” coach Joe Judge said. “There’s a different kind of energy home and away, but I think both energies really add to the atmosphere and add to the environment."
Defensive back Logan Ryan grew up in New Jersey and he said rooting against the Cowboys was the norm. Dallas had about 21,000 fans for the opener, and edged up to about 25,000 in last week's loss to the Browns. AT&T Stadium has about 80,000 permanent seats.
“I love the energy the fans bring, the good and bad,” he said. “Nothing is (better) than quieting a road stadium. I think it will be fun."
QUESTION OF EFFORT
The Cowboys were criticized outside the building for their effort on defense after allowing a franchise-record 307 yards rushing against the Browns, and safety Xavier Woods didn't help their cause while trying to answer a question honestly about it. Woods said he thought the effort was good, but then the fourth-year player elaborated.
“I mean on certain plays some guys, I mean me included, there may be a lack but overall the effort is there,” Woods said. “I mean you don’t expect, we’re in the NFL, you don’t expect guys full speed for 70 plays. That’s not possible.”
McCarthy, who earlier in the week said outsiders should be careful questioning the effort of pro athletes, didn't seem thrilled with Woods' answer.
“I think it was a situation of trying to answer questions after a poor performance is the way I would classify it,” said McCarthy, who noted Thursday he hadn't yet talked to Woods about the comment but had been made aware of it.
“I don’t think it’s a statement that can be laid up against every possible situation in football, as far as hypotheticals and things like that. We’ve addressed our performance Sunday. It was poor.”
The Giants are last in the league with 47 points scored, their fewest through four games since 1996. They have not scored a touchdown since early in the fourth quarter against the Chicago Bears in Week 2. Graham Gano has provided their scoring the past two games with six field goals, including last week's 17-9 loss to the Rams.
It marks the first time New York didn't score a touchdown in consecutive games since 1998. The Giants have gone 21 straight offensive possessions without a TD.
Dallas is the only NFL team averaging at least 500 yards per game (510). It seems like so much more to Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham.
“They score 10 billion points a game I think, or something like that,” he said. “And about 30 billion yards a game.”