NFL Season Opener
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, this is Tony Romo’s and the Dallas Cowboys year to win the NFC East and make some moves for that coveted Lombardi trophy. Last night kicked off the much-anticipated 2012-2013 NFL season with a game between the Dallas Cowboys and the defending Super Bowl Champ New York Giants. This rivalry has provided NFL fans with many fun and entertaining games and this years season opener kept up with that tradition. One half of the game featured premiere defensive play while the second half showed off the two explosive offenses that we all knew were in this game. Dallas ended up winning 24-17 in a back and forth battle throughout the game. In the first game of any NFL season there are always some jitters, but both teams seemed to gain their composure towards the end of the first half and provided the fans with any extremely competitive opener.
Coming into this game, Tony Romo had much more to prove than his counterpart Eli Manning. Eli was coming off of his second Super Bowl Championship and second Super Bowl MVP while Romo was trying to recover from yet another disappointing early exit from the season. The game started with both teams unsuccessful on the offensive end with each team going 3 and out on their first drives. It looked as if we had a defensive matchup on our hands. Neither team could develop a running game and both offensive lines were forcing their Quarterbacks to endure constant pressure while trying to make a throw.
We all know that the Giants have the best D-Line in the NFL with names like JPP, Tuck, Osi and many more, but the Dallas defense is the one who had the big question mark on their head coming into this season. Outside of DeMarcus Ware, their really isn’t a household name on the Cowboys defense. While the Giants D-Line represented the way we all knew they would, the Dallas D-Line, in my opinion, out played them. They sacked Eli 3 times and had him under consistent pressure. Dallas also clogged up the middle and made life extremely tough on Ahmad Bradshaw and the rest of the Giants rushing attack. DeMarcus Ware, who became the second youngest player to record 100 sacks by recording 2 last night, said, “We let them know where we are as a defense, and that we’ll play that way every week.”
Although Rob Ryan had seemed to get the defense in order with some new young players in the secondary, Romo and his offense still had to find ways to put points on the board. During a drive early in the second quarter, Romo had a flash of a ‘Romoesque’ throw when he placed the ball directly in the hands of the Giants linebacker, Michael Boley. Boley brought the pick all the way down to the Cowboys 2 yard line when he was ripped down illegally by the Cowboys Offensive lineman, Tyron Smith. This was without question a prime example of when a penalty is warranted. Instead of the Giants putting 7 points on the board, the Dallas D was able to make a goal line stand and force a field goal for the games first points. With the Giants ahead 3-0 and under 9 minutes left in the first half, Romo looked at the clock and decided it was time to take over.
Outside of the one disastrous pick, Romo looked nearly perfect for the entire game, while the Giants one major weakness, their secondary, seemed to be picked apart with ease. Romo found Dez Bryant and Miles Austin a handful of times but the surprise of the game was the emergence of the relatively unknown Queens native, Kevin Ogletree. With the departure of Laurent Robinson, one of the big questions entering the season was who would be the Cowboys third receiver. Ogletree was named the third option for game 1 and he made a strong enough case to keep that position for the rest of the season. Kevin finished with game highs in receptions (8), receiving yards (114) and touchdowns (2). As a matter of fact, those were his first two touchdowns of his NFL career. Romo also connected with Miles Austin on a 34-yard touchdown catch on a first and 30 that just made the Giants defense look stupid. Tony looked marvelous and finished the game with an impressive 309 yards on 22 of 29 passing and 3 touchdowns with only the one pick.
Once the passing game took off, the playbook for Dallas seemed to expand. Dallas’ young phenom, DeMarco Murray, started to find holes and showed off some of his power running that the Cowboys coach, Jason Garrett has been boasting about. Murray didn’t find a way into the end zone but he did eat up a lot of the game clock and rushed for 131 yards on only 20 carries. His counterpart, Ahmad Bradshaw scored the Giants first touchdown on an impressive 10 yard run to the outside in the waning minutes of the third to bring the G-Men within 4 points, but it always seemed as if they were playing catch-up and they were never able to get there. Bradshaw finished the game with a respectable 78 yards and a touchdown, but the Giants finished the game with a dismal 82 yards rushing.
Both the Cowboys and Giants had struggles throughout the game that can be attributed to fatigue or stupidity. The Giants won the Super Bowl last year with the worst rushing offense in the NFL. They did this because Eli had a career year and proved to have some of the most reliable receivers in the game. Unfortunately for Eli, his usually sure-handed wideouts dropped a multitude of passes that resulted in many undeserved punts and turnovers. Eli looked great and should have had at least another 100 yards added to his 213 if it wasn’t for Victor Cruz and Martellus Bennett dropping a combined 7 passes. The troubles for the Cowboys were completely different. It seemed as if every time that the Cowboys were putting a solid drive together, they would stab themselves in the foot and receive a stupid penalty. Dallas incurred 13 penalties totaling a ridiculous 86 yards. The Dallas of old would have usually folded under their own pressures but they found a way to maintain their cool and finish off the game strong.
So what does this game truly mean about the Giants?…Not much. They are still the Super Bowl champs and one loss won’t change that. They put up a good fight and could have won this game if a couple of more things went their way. Giants fans have nothing to worry about right away but I still think that Dallas is the team to beat in the NFC East this year (https://sports-debaters.com/2012/08/14/the-cowboys-will-win-the-nfc-east/). What does this win mean for the Cowboys?…A lot! Anyone who remembers how last season started against the other New York team would know that this Cowboys team looks significantly different because of their ability to finish the game error-less. Romo made a quick week one statement with an amazing game and I expect him to continue that for the seasons entirety.