The Cowboys will visit the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants on Sept. 5 at 7:30 p.m. CT, a Wednesday night, the league announced from the NFL owners meetings on Tuesday afternoon.
In the 2011 regular-season finale between the teams, the Giants beat the Cowboys 31-14 with a playoff berth on the line. The Cowboys trailed 21-0 to start the game.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he and coach Jason Garrett "got chills" thinking about the season-opener.
"He said, and I agreed, that we were going to really have a motivational aspect to this game in the off-season and we’d better be ready and that players will get the point real easily that we need to be ready to play," he said. "It starts it off not only with the chance, but a great rival, we got it all right there opening the season for the NFL. I am very pleased with it and I like the idea of having something like that to point to for our players in preparation for the year."
Starting in 2004, the defending Super Bowl champion has hosted the NFL Kickoff game to open the following season. Last year, Green Bay hosted New Orleans and won 43-34. The defending champs have won each of those openers.
To have the NFC East rivals meet adds to the intensity of the rivalry as the Cowboys were hit with a $10 million salary cap penalty, about which they filed a grievance with the league and players association. John Mara, the Giants' owner, is on the management council that approved the salary cap penalties.
"I thought the penalties imposed were proper," Mara said Sunday. "What they did was in violation of the spirit of the salary cap. They attempted to take advantage of a one-year loophole, and, quite frankly, I think they're lucky they didn't lose draft picks."
Stephen Jones, the Cowboys' executive vice president, said he disagreed with Mara.
On Tuesday, the NFL owners ratified the agreement between the league and players' union that takes away $36 million in salary cap space from the Redskins and $10 million from the Cowboys.
This is the first time the Cowboys have played at the Giants in the season opener since 1995, when the Cowboys won 35-0 in Giants Stadium.
The Giants-Cowboys season opener normally would have taken place on Thursday, but the NFL didn't want to conflict with the President Obama's acceptance speech the next night at the Democratic convention.
The Cowboys will play the following teams in 2012:
Home: Chicago, Cleveland, New Orleans, New York Giants, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Washington.
Road: Atlanta, Baltimore, Carolina, Cincinnati, New York Giants, Philadelphia, Seattle and Washington.