EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – He heard all the talk this week. He knew how important this game was to his team and he knew the individual challenge that was in front of him.
But not until Sunday morning in his hotel room did Orlando Scandrick officially get jacked up for the game.
No it wasn’t what Jason Pierre-Paul said or even Brandon Jacobs – or any a Giants player for that matter. So who managed to get the Dallas Cowboys corner so riled up? Hall of Fame player and coach Mike Ditka, who is now on ESPN’s pre-game show.
“He said the Cowboys don’t have a guy on defense that can stop Victor Cruz,” Scandrick said. “I just said ‘alright then.’ Coming from a guy who traded away his whole draft class for one player and got fired. But that got me going. He talked about Victor Cruz’s stats and probably just sees our ranking. But I took that personal.”
Scandrick played arguably his best game of the season, as he matched up stride for stride with Cruz just about every play. Even when the coaches tried to switch up the plan after Morris Claiborne left the game with a hamstring, Scandrick had to plead with the coaches.
“I begged them … Begged them to let me stay with Cruz,” Scandrick said. “I was just confident in the matchup. I knew I could stay with him. I’m glad they let me stick with him.”
Scandrick said this was the first time the coaches ever let him follow Cruz all over the field, both inside and outside.
“I’ve done with (Wes) Welker but the Patriots do things different because they’re always in 11 personnel. The Giants mix it up a lot. But I’m just glad they let me stay with him.”
Cruz finished the game with two catches for 27 yards but lost a key fumble on his first catch when Scandrick ripped the ball out, resulting in a 50-yard touchdown return by rookie Jeff Heath for the first score of the game.
“I really respect Victor Cruz and he’s a fun player to play against,” Scandrick said. “You want to play your best against a guy like that. He’s had some games but I feel like I’ve played well, too.”
Sunday was better than “well” for Scandrick. And it’s one if the big reasons the Dallas Cowboys flew home 6-5 and tied for first place in the division.