Thursday, September 6, 2012
Dallas Cowboys 24, New York Giants 17
Cowboys overcome penalties, convert on huge plays in season-opening win.
The Dallas Cowboys finally triumphed on the national stage Wednesday night at Metlife Stadium, defeating the host New York Giants 24-17 in the NFL's season opener. The win snapped a string of epic fourth quarter collapses for Dallas at the hands of last season's Super Bowl champion.
Despite getting called for 13 penalties, Dallas dominated New York for a large chunk of the game. In the first half, both defenses held steady, with the Giants mounting just one long drive -- ending with a fumble at the Dallas 29 yard line caused by Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee -- while Dallas scored the first half's only touchdown with just a minute remaining. Getting the ball back after a 22-yard field goal following a critical Tony Romo interception that was returned to the Cowboys goal line, Romo orchestrated a 73-yard drive in just two and a half minutes, going 5-for-6 with a 38-yard pass to Dez Bryant on third down followed by a 10-yard strike to Kevin Ogletree for the 7-3 lead.
Dallas didn't let up after halftime, taking the first drive of the second half 80 yards for another score, a 40-yard touchdown pass to Ogletree to make it 14-3 Cowboys.
The Giants' offense finally woke up on the next drive, with Eli Manning going 6-for-6 on a drive -- including a 39-yard pass to Domenik Hixon on third down -- that ended with an Ahmad Bradshaw 10-yard rushing touchdown.
Rather than fold like they have so often in the past, Dallas struck back immediately. On second-and-three from his own 27, DeMarco Murray took a busted play 48 yards to the Giants' 25. The drive stalled after Romo got sacked on second down and threw an incomplete pass on third, but kicker Dan Bailey converted on a 33-yard field goal to make it 17-10 Dallas heading into the final quarter.
Following a stalled drive by the Giants, Dallas took control of the game with their first drive of the fourth quarter. Despite getting called for five penalties on the drive, Romo kept the Cowboys offense moving, hitting Ogletree for 14 yards and Miles Austin for gains of 20, 10 and finally a 34-yard touchdown to make it 24-10.
With just under six minutes remaining, Eli Manning led a choppy drive from his own 21 that included four incomplete passes and a pair of fourth-down conversions. Manning hit former Cowboys tight end Martellus Bennett for a 9-yard touchdown with 2:36 remaining and the Giants needing a stop. Thanks to another clutch performance from Romo, however, the Giants offense never touched the ball again.
DeMarco Murray rushed twice to set up a 3rd-and-2, which he then converted with a two-yard run. The run was called back, however, on a questionable holding call on Cowboys tight end Jason Witten. Now backed up to a 3rd-and-10 on their own 26, Romo hit Ogletree for a game-clinching 13-yard pass to ice the contest.
Romo finished with an excellent start to the season, going 22-of-29 for 307 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. Ogletree caught eight passes for 113 yards and his first two NFL touchdowns, while Murray ran 20 times for 131 yards, most of that in the second half.
Manning was decent enough, going 21-of-32 for 213 yards, one touchdown, and no interceptions. Bradshaw lead the Giants with 78 yards rushing on 17 carries, with one touchdown.
Dallas next heads to Seattle to face the Seahawks on September 16.