Cowboys vs. Giants: New York's Biggest Winners and Losers from Week 1

Pete Schauer@@Pete_SchauerCorrespondent ISeptember 6, 2012

Cowboys vs. Giants: New York's Biggest Winners and Losers from Week 1

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    The 24-17 final of the NFL's 2012 season opener between the reigning Super Bowl champion New York Giants and NFC East-rival Dallas Cowboys wasn't as close as the score indicates.

    The Cowboys dominated the second half, scoring two of their three touchdowns, thanks in large part to DeMarco Murray, Miles Austin and Kevin Ogletree.

    The matchup was a stalemate for much of the first half with Dallas taking the momentum via an Ogletree touchdown with 1:07 left in the first half.

    From there, it was all Dallas, as Murray finished with 131 yards on the ground and Ogletree completed a career night by hauling in eight passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns.

    The Giants defense was absent for basically the entire second half while the offense never got into a rhythm and moved the ball on the Cowboys' defense.

    Here are my winners and losers from the G-Men in their Week 1 loss to the Cowboys:

Loser: David Wilson

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    I gave David Wilson a 15-percent shot at not fumbling the football during the course of the season, one of six goals that Wilson had set for himself entering the regular season.

    That percentage is now down to zero.

    Wilson coughed it up in the first quarter, on a 2nd-and-8 from the Dallas 27-yard line, killing all of the momentum that Eli Manning and Ahmad Bradshaw had worked so hard to get going.

    Wilson finished his first career game with a mere two carries for four yards.

    The rookie did have an impressive return that netted 32 yards, but his rushing attack was spoiled once he fumbled the football.

Winner: Steve Weatherford

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    It's not often you'll see a punter as one of the notable players in a football game, but Steve Weatherford was key in the Giants' playoff run in 2011, and he was a big reason why the Giants defense didn't surrender more points on Wednesday night.

    Weatherford had punts of 56, 45, 54 and 46 yards—one of which was downed inside the 20-yard line and another that should have been downed at the one—and sported an average of 50.3 yards per punt. 

    On a night when the Giants couldn't get much of anything going offensively, Weatherford was a savior when the Giants went three-and-out, which the Giants did on three of four of Weatherford's punts.

Loser: Giants' Offensive Line

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    The offensive line was the biggest problem for the Giants last season, and it continues to be—along with the cornerback spot—the weakest position.

    The Giants failed to rush for 100 yards against Dallas, finishing the night with 82 yards on the ground and leaving Ahmad Bradshaw to make his own plays in the backfield to fight for yardage on his own.

    But, it wasn't just the run blocking that was disappointing regarding the Giants' O-line but also their protection of Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning.

    Manning was sacked three times by the Cowboys and was hit five times on a night when he just didn't look comfortable in the pocket against the Cowboys defense.

Winner: Ahmad Bradshaw

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    As I stated in the previous slide, the Giants' offensive line was poor on Wednesday night, leaving Ahmad Bradshaw on his own to gain yardage on the ground.

    Bradshaw did the most he could, gaining 78 yards on 17 carries—good for a 4.6 YPC average—and also scoring the first touchdown for the G-Men in the third quarter to get New York back into the game.

    Bradshaw was responsible for shouldering the load on the ground, as just he and rookie David Wilson were used in the backfield.

    Once Wilson fumbled in the first quarter, Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride didn't go back to him, and Bradshaw received the rest of the carries without the help of an offensive line.

Loser: Justin Tryon

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    Big Blue entered Wednesday night's matchup already thin at the cornerback position with Terrell Thomas and Prince Amukamara both suffering injuries during the preseason.

    Michael Coe was called upon to start alongside Corey Webster, but he sustained an injury in the first half that prevented him from returning which left Justin Tryon on an island.

    Tony Romo constantly picked on the 28-year-old corner, as Tryon allowed Miles Austin to get position late in the fourth quarter for a touchdown that put Dallas up by 14 points with less than six minutes to go.

    Tryon was also covering Kevin Ogletree when he made a 13-yard grab on 3rd-and-10 that allowed the Cowboys to kneel out the clock and cruise to victory.

Winner: Martellus Bennett

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    Martellus Bennett certainly showed up to play against his former squad on Wednesday night.

    Other than a dropped pass that was probably a bit out of reach, Bennett was seemingly flawless in both the blocking and pass-receiving game.

    Bennett completed his first game in blue with four receptions for 40 yards and a touchdown—a nice grab in the back of the end zone that wound up being the only TD Manning would throw on the night.

    Bennett was one of the few Giants who had success blocking DeMarcus Ware who sacked Manning twice to reach triple digits for his career.

Loser: Justin Tuck

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    As the captain of the New York Giants' defense, Justin Tuck was a no-show against the Cowboys.

    He couldn't wait to face the Dallas Cowboys on Wednesday night, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN, but in the end, Tuck didn't have an impact on the game.

    Tuck had his chances to sack Tony Romo and put the Giants defense in a position to get the ball back for the offense but allowed Romo to elude his grasp and make a play for the Cowboys.

    And when it mattered most, in the last three minutes of the game, Tuck was nowhere to be seen on the field.

    Whether that was the coaches' decision or his own, the defensive captain of the Giants should have been out on the field battling at the end of the game and he wasn't.


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