Commentary

'We don't like them, they don't like us'

On Sunday, an alley fight is scheduled between two old NFC East rivals

Updated: December 5, 2009, 1:49 PM ET
By Calvin Watkins | ESPNDallas.com

IRVING, Texas -- There is hatred between the Cowboys and Giants.

The venom spews from different directions for different reasons.

Dallas linebacker Bradie James started it off with a press briefing this week talking about the Cowboys' dislike for the Giants and what they did to his team in the past.

"We don't like them, they don't like us," James said. "It's no way of getting around that. People have been saying that this is their season and what they're playing for. This is our season, too, because if we go in and beat these guys, we don't have to worry about them coming back to haunt us."

Coach Wade Phillips didn't like that Giants quarterback Eli Manning scribbled an autograph on a wall in the visitors locker room at Cowboys Stadium earlier this season. Phillips said it could come back on Manning.

The Giants quarterback said he didn't care.

"Yeah, I kind of heard a few things about it," Manning said. "I figure they'll eventually get over it."

Justin Tuck, who was forced out of the teams' Week 2 matchup with a shoulder injury after being kicked in the knee, described left tackle Flozell Adams as a dirty player for doing it.

Adams said Tuck should have stayed on his feet.

Tuck said despite the $1.2 billion spent to build Cowboys Stadium and all the praise it has received from fans, media and opposing players, it was a dump, just like Texas Stadium.

On Sunday, in what's expected to be a cold and windy day at Giants Stadium, an alley fight is scheduled between two old NFC East rivals.

It's one of those situations in which a seven-second delay is needed for the television and radio microphones because you don't know what's going to be said.

To say this fight or game will be rated PG-13 is wrong. It should be rated X.

The Cowboys (8-3) have a chance to bury the Giants (6-5) with a victory and increase their lead over them in the division to three games.

The Giants are trying to save their season. After starting the season 5-0, the Giants have gone 1-5 since then. On Friday, coach Tom Coughlin benched two starters, Osi Umenyiora and Fred Robbins.

Former Cowboys defensive end Chris Canty, who has played only four games because of leg injuries, will start in place of Robbins at tackle.

"It's been a tough spell for this team," Canty said. "We've got to refocus on some of the things that we have to do to win games and understand who we are."

A New York victory would give the Giants a tiebreaker advantage over the Cowboys from having won the two regular-season games.

The Cowboys are still bothered by the way they lost the first leg of the two-game series. The Giants drove the length of the field in the closing minutes to win 33-31.

"It's real tough, man, just going out there and watching us on tape," cornerback Mike Jenkins said of that September game. "It's like 'Who are these guys?' We got killed. I mean, it's a learning experience. I think in order for us to come back, it shows the type of character we have as players. We've gone out since then and balled out, and we can show we have improved toward the end of the season."

The Cowboys have struggled to finish the schedule on a high note in recent years.

In the past two seasons, Dallas is 3-5 in December, and Phillips has downplayed the late-season struggles, calling them baseball stats.

If the Cowboys are to achieve their goals of winning the division and playing well in December, beating the Giants for the teams' last game in Giants Stadium is vital.

Reporters tried to drum up reactions from Cowboys players regarding some of the Giants' actions.

Wide receiver Patrick Crayton laughed when reminded that Giants running back Brandon Jacobs had danced on the Cowboys' star after the first meeting.

Adams smiled and said "no comment" when asked about meeting Tuck again.

And that Manning signing the wall deal that has Phillips all in huff?

As a sign of respect, the Cowboys' visitors locker room attendants asked Manning to sign the wall. It's done throughout the league. In Philadelphia's Lincoln Financial Field, linebacker Keith Brooking has signed a wall twice, once with the Falcons and now with the Cowboys.

Regardless of what's not being said, there's still a burning anger with these teams. When two Cowboys players who were sitting in the locker room were asked whether they would play the popular song by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys, "Empire State of Mind" -- which is a tribute to New York -- one player shook his head no.

The other said with disgust, "We ain't from New York. We're from Dallas."

Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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