IRVING, Texas — When the New York Giants beat the Cowboys in the playoffs in January of 2008, it helped catapult the Giants to the Super Bowl and ripped the rug out from under Dallas.
The Cowboys haven't been the same since the loss. That outcome fuels the rivalry to this day and has left the Cowboys scrambling to craft a new persona, one that resembles the Giants.
Put the 21-17 loss into context. The Cowboys entered with the best record in the NFC. They were at home. They had beaten the Giants by 10 and 11 points earlier in the season.
New York pointed to all the players the Cowboys would send to the Pro Bowl. Giants linebacker Antonio Pierce and others billed it as the All-Pros vs. the All-Joes. The Joes won.
The loss did more than end the Dallas season. New York's blue-collar approach helped shape the perception that the Cowboys were more flash than substance, that celebrity was more important to them than hard work.
The Cowboys have embraced some of the same principles the Giants espoused in their Super Bowl run. They have done their best to eliminate distractions and peripheral issues.
New York coach Tom Coughlin stops short of saying the teams emerged from that postseason game on different paths. But Giants quarterback Eli Manning is more likely to appear on a national commercial than Tony Romo.
Who are the All-Pros and who are the All-Joes now?