Rapid Reaction: Cowboys 36, Giants 31
September, 9, 2013
By Todd Archer | ESPN.com
ARLINGTON, Texas -- My thoughts on the Dallas Cowboys’ 36-31 win against the New York Giants at AT&T Stadium:
What it means for Dallas: The Cowboys finally claimed a victory over the Giants in Arlington after losing the first four in the $1.2 billion stadium. Maybe all they needed was a name change to AT&T Stadium.
The Cowboys have now beaten the Giants in seven straight season openers, including the past two.
Sunday was another strange, thrilling game against their NFC East rivals despite six takeaways and two defensive touchdowns by the Cowboys. Dallas was unable to salt it away until linebacker Sean Lee recovered an onside kick with 10 seconds to play.
Safety Barry Church returned a fumble 27 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter, and cornerback Brandon Carr picked off a deflected Eli Manning pass and returned it 49 yards for a touchdown with 1:50 to play to make it 36-24.
Stock watch: Tight end Jason Witten went over 9,000 career receiving yards, and he also caught two touchdown passes in a game for the first time since Dec. 12, 2010, against Philadelphia and only the third time in his career.
Taking it away: Monte Kiffin has preached takeaways since taking over as defensive coordinator, and there was no better way to start the season than how the Cowboys defense did in the first quarter.
On the first play, DeMarcus Ware recorded an interception for the first time since 2006 that set up a field goal. On the second drive, Church ripped the ball free from running back David Wilson at the Dallas 10 for a George Selvie fumble recovery. On the third drive, safety Will Allen had his first interception since 2005.
The Cowboys did not record three takeaways in any game last season and last had three in a quarter on Nov. 13, 2011, against Buffalo (fourth quarter).
About that running game: The Cowboys spent the offseason talking about running the ball more and running the ball better in 2013 after a horrid 2012.
It’s not that the Cowboys ran the ball poorly against the Giants; it’s just that they didn’t run it very much. In the first half, Romo threw the ball 33 times and the Cowboys had 12 rushes. For the game, the Cowboys ran it 23 times for 87 yards and DeMarco Murray had 86 yards on 20 carries, but they couldn’t close out the game on their own. Last season, the Cowboys had seven games in which they ran it more than 22 times.
What’s next: The Cowboys play at Kansas City next Sunday for the first time since 2009.