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New York Giants Vs. Dallas Cowboys: Time To Build The Bridge

Wednesday at the Met, the New York Giants formally begin the defense of their Super Bowl championship with a showdown against the archrival Dallas Cowboys. Coverage on the NBC Networks (Channel 4 in New York) begins at 8 p.m. Radio listeners can tune WFAN 660-AM, the flagship station of the Giants Radio Network, and nationally on the Westwood One Radio Network and Sirius-XM Channels 92 and 93.

The Giants hurt and then killed the Cowboys' chances at the playoffs late last season. In Week 14 in Dallas, Tony Romo overthrew Miles Austin - a completion would have sealed the Giants' fate - and Eli Manning rallied the Jints from a 12-point deficit in the final 3:14. The Pokes had a chance to send the game into overtime, but Jason Pierre-Paul's blocked field goal attempt secured a 37-34 win for the Giants.

Three weeks later the two teams met with the NFC East title and a postseason berth on the line. Romo was sacked six times, and Manning threw for 346 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-14 Giants' victory, the second of a six-game run that concluded with winning Super Bowl XLVI.

[Related: NFL Power Rankings | NFC East Preview]

TALE OF THE TAPE (2011 stats)
Cowboys Giants

Record: Cowboys 8-8, Giants 9-7
Points Per Game: Cowboys 23.1, Giants 24.6
Passing Yards Per Game: Cowboys 262.6, Giants 295.9
Rushing Yards Per Game: Cowboys 112.9, Giants 89.2
Takeaways: Cowboys 25, Giants 31

Head coach Tom Coughlin is using "build the bridge" as the slogan for 2012. It means taking what the Giants did to end 2011 and bridging everything to this season.

"This is not that team," Coughlin told reporters. "This is the 2012 team and we've been handed a new set of issues and problems as you followed us and we're in the process of trying to solve them."

It's up to the Giants to play a complete season in lieu of the team that stood at 7-7 and in serious trouble before a six-game winning streak capped the franchise's fourth Super Bowl title. Already with a big target on its back and a brutal schedule normally saddled on the defending champion, New York can use a big win over a talented but sloppy Cowboys team on its turf to kick off a new season.

"Whatever that was, we got to find that and try to keep that for a full season," Manning told WFAN's Boomer & Carton on Monday, "and make sure that we're playing up to our potential week in and week out. I feel like we've still got a lot to prove."

There's so much potential in Big D but recent seasons have produced disappointing results. In an attempt to keep up with Manning, Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Co., the Cowboys signed cornerback Brandon Carr to a five-year, $50 million deal from the Kansas City Chiefs and traded up eight spots to take fellow cornerback Morris Claiborne at sixth overall in the 2012 draft. Last season, Manning threw for a combined 746 yards against the Dallas secondary in the two meetings.

Visit Blogging the Boys for more on Jerry Jones, Tony Romo and friends

The matchup between Nicks and Cruz against the Cowboys' new-look secondary. Hicks has practiced in pads, but insists he will be in the lineup for the opener. It's also interesting that a Giants running game that ranked dead last a year ago (89.2 ypg) ran for 100-plus yards in both meetings with the Cowboys. Ahmad Bradsaw may be a bit beat up, but he's healthier than he's been in previous seasons. Speedster David Wilson is expected to add more spice to Big Blue's rushing game along with Andre Brown, who beat out veteran D.J. Ware.

Romo has lost his last five starts against the Giants, but posted a career-best 102.5 passer rating a season ago with 31 touchdowns to 10 interceptions last season. He has a chance to pick apart a secondary that is starting Michael Coe in place of the injured Prince Amukamara.

"He should. I mean, the Giants have been whupping his ass for a long time. It's got to be tough on the outside looking in on all of these championships lately. That's the feeling I feel like everybody in the league has, and what they should have, because when you're on top and everybody should be wanting to knock you off." - Mathias Kiwanuka on WFAN in response to Jerry Jones' vow that his Cowboys would "beat the Giants' asses."

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Follow Jon Lane on Twitter: @JonLaneNYC