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If the Giants shed their recent losing ways Sunday and beat the Cowboys, all eyes will be on the Washington-Eagles game later Sunday night in Philadelphia. If the Eagles win, the Giants will finish in first place in the NFC East and make the playoffs. The Eagles (4-10-1) are the only team in the division to enter Week 17 already eliminated from the postseason.
The Eagles are banged up — Derek Barnett and Fletcher Cox are out on defense, and DeSean Jackson, Miles Sanders and Dallas Goedert are out on offense. It is always a mystery how teams with nothing tangible to play for perform in these situations.
“I think part of professionalism is you keep your focus just on that game,’’ Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said. “There’s too much at stake. It might not be at stake for us as a team with a playoff berth and things like that, but we’ve got a lot of individual things that players still can accomplish. We’ve got guys that are trying to earn their way in the league.
“We have a division opponent that’s going to come and try to celebrate on our field. We’ve got to have a no-hat rule this week. We can’t let opponents put division win hats on at the Linc. There’s a lot of pride in that, and all our focus has to be to accomplishing that this week.’’
Relying on another team to do the work for you is always risky business. In the 1988 finale, the Giants were 10-5 heading into their final game but lost to the Jets to fall to 10-6. The Giants had a backdoor entrance to the playoffs and needed the 49ers to beat the Rams later that night. The 49ers had already clinched first place in the NFC West, rested several starters and lost, 38-16. That prompted Giants quarterback Phil Simms to say, “I’m just sitting here staring and watching the 49ers lay down like dogs.’’
The return of Kyler Fackrell puts one of the Giants’ top pass-rushers back on the field. Fackrell has three sacks, and in the Week 5 loss to the Cowboys returned an interception 46 yards for a touchdown. Fackrell missed the past four games with a calf injury.
Cowboys QB Dak Prescott suffered a season-ending compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle on Oct. 11, when Giants safety Logan Ryan hauled him down making a tackle on a scramble. Ryan said he reached out to Prescott after the injury and sent Prescott two books to read.
“Haven’t been in touch much since — obviously we’re both pretty busy human beings at this time of the year — but I wish him the best of luck, and I’m sure he’s having a great recovery from what I’ve heard and what I’ve seen,’’ Ryan said.
OLB Kyler Fackrell and CB Madre Harper were activated off injured reserve and punter Ryan Santoso was added to the roster from the practice squad though likely will be inactive. FB Eli Penny (illness) was placed on IR and QB Joe Webb was released.
Cowboys assistant head coach Rob Davis, assistant special teams coach Matt Daniels and offensive assistant Scott Tolzien did not travel with the team to New Jersey today while adhering to NFL protocols related to COVID-19. Their game day responsibilities will be handled by other members of the Dallas coaching staff at tomorrow’s game against the New York Giants.
Will Hernandez did not miss a single snap in his first two seasons with the Giants and started the first seven games this season, again not missing a snap at left guard. Hernandez tested positive for COVID-19, missed two games and since his return has been a backup rotated in, with rookie Shane Lemieux starting. Hernandez was on the field for just 10 snaps in last week’s loss to the Ravens.
“I think from my impression, he’s handled it well,’’ center Nick Gates said. “He’s done everything that the coaches have asked him to do. He’s going to keep doing everything he can.’’