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Halftime: A tackle makes the big tackle

9/5/2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- So much for that high-scoring game we were expecting to open the season between the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants. Both offensive lines have struggled and both defenses have thrived, and Tony Romo's touchdown pass to Kevin Ogletree just before the end of the second quarter has provided the difference as the Cowboys hold a 7-3 halftime lead. But the play of the half was an illegal tackle made by an offensive tackle.

Cowboys left tackle Tyron Smith, who's not having a great night as a left tackle, made a horse-collar tackle on Giants linebacker Michael Boley as Boley was running back an interception early in the second quarter. Smith chased Boley down and made the tackle on the 2-yard line, so the penalty was only for 1 yard, and it was well worth it because it kept Boley out of the end zone. The Giants' offensive line was unable to open a hole for Ahmad Bradshaw on first down or second down, and Orlando Scandrick appeared to get away with pass interference on third down, and the Giants only came away with a field goal.

That play and a 38-yard completion by Romo to Dez Bryant on third-and-1 with less than two minutes left in the half were the two most important plays for Dallas in a game otherwise dominated so far by the defenses. The Cowboys have 158 total yards to the Giants' 85. Each team has turned the ball over once. Dallas has committed six penalties, including four false starts, two of which were by Smith. But it was the horse-collar penalty Smith committed that kept the Giants from scoring a touchdown and may be the main reason the Cowboys lead at halftime. Dallas also will get the ball to begin the second half.

Some other thoughts:

  • Giants cornerback Michael Coe, starting in place of the injured Prince Amukamara, has played pretty well. He's mainly been on Miles Austin or Ogletree, whichever is lined up on the outside, while Corey Webster plays Bryant and Jayron Hosley plays the slot. But Coe looks good in coverage and is a sure tackler.

  • Ogletree leads Cowboys receivers with seven targets and five catches. Romo seems to really like looking for him on third downs.

  • DeMarcus Ware has two sacks so far and is on pace for 64 this season. That would be a record.

  • The teams have combined for 51 rushing yards. Neither team's line can open a hole for a back right now. DeMarco Murray has the longest run of the night -- 9 yards. Romo's 8-yarder is the second longest. Bradshaw's longest is 5, but don't expect to see him replaced by rookie David Wilson very soon. Wilson fumbled, and that doesn't fly with the Giants.

  • Sean Lee forced that fumble, by the way, and has been credited with four tackles. Great looking player.

  • Jason Witten has played sparingly, after being surprisingly activated for the game in spite of a lacerated spleen. He has one 3-yard catch.