Here are my initial thoughts and observations after the Dallas Cowboys 36-31 victory over the New York Giants in their season opener.
What To Take From The Win– The Cowboys beat the Giants for the first time since “Jerry-World” opened on September 20th, 2010. Their previous 0-4 record at the $1.2 billion stadium against their division rival is now a thought of the past. The ‘Boys also improved to 7-0 all time in season openers against the G-men.
Sunday’s game was full of sloppy, unusual play. The ‘Boys were unable to ice the game after scoring two defensive touchdowns and forcing six turnovers. Dallas actually didn’t ice the game until Sean Lee recovered an onside kick with just seconds left on the clock.
The two defensive touchdowns basically saved the day for the Cowboys. After several comeback attempts from Eli Manning, Barry Church recovered a fumble by David Wilson and took it to pay dirt near the end of the third quarter, and Brandon Carr intercepted a deflected Manning pass with 1:50 to play to but all ensure a Dallas victory. These two td’s killed the whatever momentum the Giants had.
Notable Performances-Tony Romo threw for 263 yards and 2 touchdowns after what seemed to be a serious injury at the end of the first half. He checked down repeatedly tonight, and that’s a good sign for the team. Romo didn’t force many throws and took what the Giant’s defense was giving him.
The offensive line didn’t allow a sack all game until they gave up two consecutive sacks in the fourth quarter. On one of Romo’s TD passes, he had all day to find Jason Witten, who worked his way back across the field. Tyron Smith took care of Jason Pierre Paul all night and basically deemed him a non-factor.
Tight End Jason Witten had his first two touchdown game with Romo. Romo’s security blanket stepped up big in the red zone to help the team cash in for much needed points. Witten had 4 scores all of last season and now already has two.
Dwayne Harris came up huge on special teams all night. He was the first one to make several tackles downfield and helped the Cowboys win the field position battle.
Turnovers- The Cowboys hired Monte Kiffin to produce one thing and that’s turnovers. The team forced six turnovers, and held the Giants to basically nothing for almost all of the first half. On the first three drives of the game for the Giants, DeMarcus Ware picked off Eli Manning, George Selvie recovered a David Wilson fumble, and Will Allen also picked off the QB. That was the first three times the G-men touched the ball.
The Cowboys did not have a game last year with three takeaways.
In the second half, the defense did appear suspect giving up three scores. However, the unit came up huge when the team needed them the most. With 1:50 left and only up six points, Brandon Carr was able to take a deflected Manning pass to the house to make the score 36-24. It was a welcoming sight to see for Cowboys fans, as time and time again, we’ve seen the defense crumble in key moments. Tonight they ultimately won the game for the team.
What Lies Ahead- The Cowboys play the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium next Sunday where they’ll see an old foe in Andy Reid. It’ll be interesting to see if we will learn more about Romo’s rib injury this week as well.