NFL champion Giants kick off season vs. Cowboys

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“I think they always stick with you,” Romo said of the last game. “That’s what fuels you in the offseason and makes you … you want to remember those moments so you can improve from them. As a football team, we’ve taken an approach that we need to get better. I think we’ve done that with the personnel and our approach and the way the guys have been committed. It’s been great to see. Now it’s time to take it to the field.”

There are a couple of key matchups to watch.

Manning and receivers Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks combined for 14 receptions for 237 yards in New York’s 37-34 win in Dallas on Dec. 11, and they had 11 more catches for 254 yards and two touchdowns in the division-deciding game.

In the offseason, the Cowboys signed former Chiefs cornerback Brandon Carr as a free agent and moved up eight spots in the first round of the draft to take another cornerback, Morris Claiborne of LSU.

The key to the Giants‘ success in the postseason was the ability of the defensive line to pressure quarterbacks. The assault will again be led by All Pro Jason Pierre-Paul, Tuck and fellow two-time Pro Bowler Osi Umenyiora.

Dallas has revamped its offensive line, signing veteran guards Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings, and having tackles Tyron Smith and Doug Free switch sides. Center Phil Costa returns in the middle.

Both running games should improve this season. The Cowboys‘ DeMarco Murray is healthy after hurting his ankle in the first Giants‘ game. New York, which finished last in the league in rushing, should be better with speedy first-round draft pick David Wilson backing up Ahmad Bradshaw.

The Giants have some weaknesses the Cowboys can exploit.

Michael Coe is the surprise starter for New York at cornerback after injuries ended Terrell Thomas’ season and have Prince Amukamara out the opener. Rookie Jayron Hosley, the third-round draft pick, is battling a pain issue with turf toe.

The other area of concern for the Giants is tight end. Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum both sustained major knee injuries in the Super Bowl. Ballard is no longer with the team, and Beckum will start the season on the physically-unable-to-perform list.

Former Cowboy Martellus Bennett, who signed with the Giants as a free agent, will be Manning’s main target at tight end.

“I’m excited about the opportunity for this game, playing at home as the defending Super Bowl champs,” veteran offensive tackle David Diehl said. “This is a huge game. This is a game the minute that schedule came out we had circled as a team, but also we know the minute that we beat them in the division to take over last season, this was a game they had circled right from the get-go.”

Diehl believes this will be a heavyweight fight in which both teams won’t be thinking about last year.

“When you play in the NFL, this is a short-memory league,” he said. “People do think about that, but what people are talking about now is: `Who is going to win it this year?’”


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