NFL Nation: 2013 Week 1 NYG at DAL

Rapid Reaction: Cowboys 36, Giants 31

September, 9, 2013

ARLINGTON, Texas -- My thoughts on the Dallas Cowboys36-31 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.

Rapid Reaction: Cowboys 36, Giants 31

September, 8, 2013
ARLINGTON, Texas -- A few thoughts on the New York Giants' horrific season-opening loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night.

What it means for New York: The Giants have begun the season with a Week 1 loss to the division-rival Cowboys for the second year in a row, and this one was downright putrid. They turned the ball over six times against a Cowboys team that forced just 16 turnovers in the entire 2012 season. And while it was encouraging that quarterback Eli Manning and electric wideout Victor Cruz brought them back in the second half with a chance to win it, those hopes went out the window when Brandon Carr returned a Manning interception for a touchdown with 1:50 to go.

Stock watch: Falling, David Wilson. The Giants' second-year running back entered this game with the highest of expectations after he had a strong preseason and had his role in the offense increased following the injury to Andre Brown. But Wilson, who famously fumbled against the Cowboys in last season's opener, fumbled twice in this one and ended up getting benched in the third quarter for Da'Rel Scott. He also missed a block on a George Selvie sack in the first quarter. The Giants believe in Wilson, and he'll get more chances, but this was a terrible way for him to start such a promising season.

Bright spots: Obviously, Cruz didn't look as though his bruised heel was bothering him. Fellow receiver Hakeem Nicks also looked to be operating at full-strength.

The man needs help: Yes, Manning threw three interceptions. And yes, he will take responsibility for that. But the problems for the Giants on Sunday were widespread, from an offensive line that couldn't protect him to a basically useless running game to a defense that's softer in the middle than (big) bleu cheese. The Giants are still asking Manning to do it all, and he can't do it all every time.

What's next: The Giants host Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in their 4:25 p.m. ET home opener Sunday at MetLife Stadium. Peyton Manning tied an NFL record with seven touchdowns Thursday night in Denver's season-opening victory over the Super Bowl champion Ravens. This will be the third time that brothers Peyton and Eli Manning have faced each other in an NFL game. Peyton won the first two, both with the Indianapolis Colts.