Cowboys 24

(1-0, 1-0 away)

Giants 17

(0-1, 0-1 home)

Coverage: NBC

8:30 PM ET, September 5, 2012

MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ 

1 2 3 4 T
DAL 0 7 10 724
NYG 0 3 7 717

Top Performers

Passing: T. Romo (DAL) - 307 YDS, 3 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: D. Murray (DAL) - 20 CAR, 131 YDS

Receiving: K. Ogletree (DAL) - 8 REC, 114 YDS, 2 TD

Tony Romo throws 2 TDs to Kevin Ogletree in Cowboys' win over Giants

Associated Press

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Dallas Cowboys waited all year for another shot at the New York Giants. When they got it in the 2012 season opener, they were ready.

So were the replacement officials, who barely were a story with Dallas dominating the Super Bowl champions for much of a 24-17 victory Wednesday night that wasn't nearly so close.

It won't make up for the New Year's Day loss that cost the Cowboys the NFC East title and sent the Giants on their way to the NFL championship. It sure could provide impetus for this season, though, particularly with the discovery of a new game-breaker, Kevin Ogletree.

While the officials were expected to be a big factor with the league's lockout of the regulars, there were no controversies, no blatant mistakes or rampant confusion. The spotlight belonged squarely on the Cowboys, from Tony Romo's three touchdown passes and 307 yards passing, to DeMarco Murray's 129 yards rushing, to Ogletree's two scores.

"A huge emphasis for us was big plays," said Ogletree, who enjoyed his big night not far from where he grew up in the New York borough of Queens. "I don't want the focus to be on me too much, but I am very, very humbled and appreciative of how we played today."

Dallas' defense frustrated Eli Manning and his offense with three sacks and a half-dozen pressures, all before the largest crowd at MetLife Stadium for a Giants game. The 82,287 saw the defending league champions lose in the now-traditional midweek kickoff contest for the first time in nine such games.

"We let them know where we are as a defense, and that we'll play that way every week," DeMarcus Ware said after getting two sacks to give him 101 1/2 for his career, now in its eighth season.

When the Cowboys were threatened late -- a spot they often have folded in against the Giants -- Romo hit Ogletree for 15 yards on third down to clinch it. That gave Ogletree 114 yards on eight catches; he had 25 receptions for 294 yards and no scores entering the game.

"I'm close to home, so it's a good feeling," Ogletree said. "But Dallas is my home now."

The Cowboys' big-time receivers -- Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten -- were eclipsed by Ogletree, who sure didn't resemble a backup. In the first half, he had five catches for 47 yards and a TD, and broke free for a 40-yard reception early in the third quarter.

Ogletree thoroughly fooled New York's top cornerback, Corey Webster, on his long score to start the second half -- the kind of big play the Cowboys couldn't make enough of in that Jan. 1 showdown that ended their season. And they got another huge play from Murray, who broke two tackles in the backfield, scooted down the right sideline for 48 yards and set up Dan Bailey's 33-yard field goal for a 17-10 lead through three quarters.

After Manning connected with former Cowboys tight end Martellus Bennett for a 9-yard touchdown with 2:36 remaining, Dallas never gave the ball back.

"Take a bite out of humble pie, that's basically what it is," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "It brings you right back down to earth."

Murray's counterpart with the Giants, Ahmad Bradshaw, scored on a 10-yard run -- New York's first effective rush all game -- for the hosts' first touchdown. And Ogletree's opposite number, Giants third wideout Domenik Hixon, made a spectacular leaping grab for 39 yards over two defenders to set up that score.

Dallas overcame its sloppiness late in the opening half basically on two big plays. Romo hit Bryant in stride over Webster down the right sideline for a 38-yard gain on third down. Two plays later, he sidestepped the pass rush and lobbed to a wide-open Ogletree for a 10-yard score.

America's thirst for football hardly could have been quenched by the first half -- unless you enjoy strong defensive line play. Each team had one solid drive that was stymied in scoring position, and the only players moving the ball with consistency were punters Steve Weatherford for New York and Chris Jones for Dallas.

Sean Lee, the Cowboys' rising-star inside linebacker, slammed into first-round draft pick David Wilson and the running back fumbled at the Dallas 29. Then the Cowboys moved 29 yards to fourth-and-inches at the Giants 37. Rather than try a quarterback sneak, Romo handed to fullback Lawrence Vickers, who never got close to converting.

Dallas showed similar strength after Michael Boley's 51-yard interception, throwing Bradshaw for losses on consecutive runs on which New York's line was overrun. Lawrence Tynes' 22-yard field goal made it 3-0 moments after the first murmur of officiating controversy.

Manning threw to Victor Cruz in the middle of the end zone and Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick arrived along with the ball. Manning and Cruz motioned for a flag, but it did not come, perhaps because the ball was thrown a bit behind Cruz.

Otherwise, the feared flops by the replacement officials didn't materialize, although Dallas couldn't have been happy with 13 penalties for 86 yards.

The Cowboys could be happy with just about everything else, including Witten's playing despite having lacerated his spleen last month.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

1st Downs1815
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
Total Plays5754
Total Yards433269
Yards per play7.65.0
Total Drives99
Yards per pass
Interceptions thrown
Sacks-Yards Lost
Rushing Attempts
Yards per rush
Red Zone (Made-Att)0-00-0
Fumbles lost
Interceptions thrown
Defensive / Special Teams TDs00

Passing Leaders


Rushing Leaders


Receiving Leaders


Scoring Summary

nygFG9:14Lawrence Tynes 22 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 4 plays, -3 yds, 1:20
dalTD1:07Kevin Ogletree 10 Yard Pass From Tony Romo (Dan Bailey Kick is Good)
Drive info: 7 plays, 73 yds, 2:33
dalTD10:32Kevin Ogletree 40 Yard Pass From Tony Romo (Dan Bailey Kick is Good)
Drive info: 9 plays, 80 yds, 4:36
nygTD5:19Ahmad Bradshaw 10 Yard Run (Lawrence Tynes Kick is Good)
Drive info: 9 plays, 89 yds, 5:13
dalFG0:45Dan Bailey 33 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 8 plays, 65 yds, 4:31
dalTD6:12Miles Austin 34 Yard Pass From Tony Romo (Dan Bailey Kick is Good)
Drive info: 8 plays, 82 yds, 7:06
nygTD2:42Martellus Bennett 9 Yard Pass From Eli Manning (Lawrence Tynes Kick is Good)
Drive info: 12 plays, 79 yds, 3:21

Research Notes

Don't worry New York fans.. The last 2 times the Giants lost their season opener, the team went on to win the Super Bowl.
Tony Romo threw two of his touchdown passes Wednesday when outside of the pocket. Over the last two seasons, Romo has thrown 12 touchdowns when outside of the pocket, with half coming against the Giants. No other quarterback has more than three against a single team over that span.
Kevin Ogletree was targeted 11 times Wednesday, five more than his previous career high. Ogletree caught eight of his 11 targets, good for an 72.7 completion percentage with Tony Romo. Since the start of 2008, Romo now has 21 instances of targeting a wide receiver at least 10 times in a game. The 72.7 completion percentage is the fifth-highest of those instances, with the top four all belonging to Miles Austin.
On passes that traveled 15 or more yards downfield, Tony Romo was 5 of 7 for 150 yards with two touchdowns, including one to Miles Austin in the fourth quarter that put the Cowboys up 24-10. Last season, Romo completed five passes of such length on 11 attempts in two games against the Giants.
NEXT LEVEL: Victor Cruz dropped three passes in a single game for the first time in his career Wednesday night. Cruz had never dropped more than one pass in a regular season game prior to Wednesday. Cruz is the first Giants player with 3 drops in a game since Mario Manningham in 2009 Week 4.
The Cowboys sent five or more rushers after Eli Manning on 10 of his 35 dropbacks (28.6 percent) Wednesday after doing so nearly 38 percent of the time last season. The less aggressive approach made the Cowboys' added rushes more effective, with all three sacks coming when sending five or more.
Kevin Ogletree is the 5th different Cowboys WR with a 2-TD game against the NY Giants in the last 6 seasons. The others? Terrell Owens in 2007, Roy Williams in 2009, Dez Bryant in 2010 and Laurent Robinson in the 2011 season finale.
4 of Dallas' last 5 drives of the 1st half had either a delay of game or false start penalty. Last season, the Cowboys had 27 false starts - tied for 7th most in the NFL.

ESPN Stats & Information