By Curt Macysyn
The game started and ended badly for New York, as Giants Eli Manning was intercepted by DeMarcus Ware on the first play from scrimmage. The Cowboys could not punch the ball into the end zone, as Tony Romo could not connect on third down. The Cowboys had to settle for a 30-yard Dan Bailey field goal and a 3-0 lead. The Cowboys squandered away two other turnovers, and the teams were tied 3-3 after the first quarter.
But the Cowboys took control of the game in the second quarter as Romo hit tight end Jason Witten with the first of two touchdown grabs by Witten, and Dallas took a 13-10 lead into the half.
Two more Giants turnovers in the third quarter helped the Cowboys push their lead to 27-10 with less than five minutes left in the third quarter. David Wilson’s fumble was returned by Barry Church for a touchdown, and a muffed punt by New York led to the second Jason Witten touchdown catch. The Cowboys led in time of possession throughout the game, and the New York defense was taxed to the limit in the season opener. The Giants were able to close the deficit to end at the end of the third quarter, when Manning hit Victor Cruz for his second touchdown of the evening.
Unbelievably, after five turnovers, the Giants fought their way back and had a chance to take the lead with under two minutes left in the game. But an Eli Manning pass glanced off the hands of reserve running back Da’Rel Scott into the waiting hands of Brandon Carr. Carr returned the interception 49 yards for a game clinching touchdown and a Dallas 36-31 victory.
How often does a team have three receivers go over 100 yards receiving and lose the game?
Certainly David Wilson’s 19 yards on seven carries (2.7 yards per carry) and two costly fumbles graded out to an F, and the offensive line play was sporadic at best. Kevin Boothe and Will Beatty struggled in pass protection. On the positive side, rookie tackle Justin Pugh held his own and should become a permanent fixture at tackle for New York.
But the Giants offense had little else to offer, other than what they got on the strength of Manning’s arm, as the running game was ineffective with a mere 50 yards on the ground.
In the plus column, the Cowboys had no answers for the Giants trio of wide receivers, with Cruz catching three touchdown passes, and Hakeem Nicks and Rueben Randle making big plays in the passing game. Tight end Brandon Myers was more involved in the offense with seven catches for 66 yards and a touchdown.
Scott came on for the mistake-prone Wilson, but he had a pass go off his hands, which lead to a 49-yard Brandon Carr interception return for a touchdown. Look for New York to pick up a veteran running back due to the lack of production and mistakes at the position.
For the evening, New York garnered 500 yards of total offense, but six Giants turnovers caused the loss.
For as much as New York’s defense was on the field, it is hard to hand out an accurate grade. But when the Giants needed big defensive plays, Linval Joseph and Jason Pierre-Paul came up with back-to-back sacks of Romo midway through the final frame.
Safety Ryan Mundy intercepted Romo and returned it 90-yards, which lead to a field goal. Defensive back Terrell Thomas played more than the team would have liked in his first regular season game in two years, but he was effective in the nickel package with seven tackles. Aaron Ross came on after Prince Amukamara’s concussion and held his own against the dangerous Dallas receivers.
And the defense stopped Dallas on third down late in the game as Dez Bryant was stopped by Mundy, who had six tackles to go with his interception.
It was the best of times, and it was the worst of times for Eli Manning, as the veteran signal caller started off slowly with two turnovers in the first quarter. But Manning moved the ball around effectively in the second half, until Da’Rel Scott’s inability to catch a dump pass, earned Manning his third interception of the evening. But Manning also threw for 450 yards and four touchdowns, and he gained momentum in the second half.
Special Teams: A
Steve Weatherford punted three times for a 54.7 yard average. And new kicker Josh Brown hit his only field goal attempt and was 4-for-4 on extra point attempts. Brown also did not allow the Cowboys to return any of his kickoffs, as he booted touchbacks all night.
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Curt Macysyn has been covering the New York Football Giants for the past two seasons for Examiner.com. Born and raised in northern New Jersey, Curt has followed and covered the New York Metropolitan sports scene for 35 years. He attended Seton Hall Prep School in South Orange, NJ and is a graduate of Rutgers University, New Brunswick. His work can be found on Examiner.com.