5 Players Who Sparked the Dallas Cowboys to Upset Win over New York Giants

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistSeptember 5, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 05:  Wide receiver Kevin Ogletree #85 of the Dallas Cowboys runs with the ball after a catch against free safety Antrel Rolle #26 of the New York Giants during the 2012 NFL season opener at MetLife Stadium on September 5, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

No surprise Tony Romo again shredded the New York Giants' secondary. No surprise DeMarcus Ware chased Eli Manning all night and took him down on three sacks.

However, the performances of two unheralded players helped spark the Dallas Cowboys to a 24-17 upset road win over the defending Super Bowl champions. One was filling in for a dominant All-Pro, while the other was being asked to handle a key role for the Dallas offense.

Here are the five players who sparked the Cowboys' impressive opening-day victory:


Josh Brent

Deputizing for Jay Ratliff is no easy task, but youngster Josh Brent certainly handled it well. The 24-year-old offers superior size to Ratliff and it showed as he routinely plugged the middle and pushed the interior against the run.

The 6'2" 320-pounder made the middle a no-go area for Giants running backs. Brent was chiefly responsible for helping the Dallas defense shut down Big Blue's efforts on the ground.

Based on this showing, Ratliff may have a fight on his hands for the starting job, once he returns from injury.


Tony Romo

For all of the concerns regarding his temperament and ability to make plays when it counts, Tony Romo certainly had no trouble showing up big in crunch situations on opening night.

He calmly directed a scoring drive in the dying minutes of the first half and repeated the feat to begin the second half. On both occasions, Romo manufactured a touchdown under pressure on second down.

Despite the Giants' consistent attempts to create pressure straight up the middle, Romo frequently managed to escape and find the route to a big play. Throwing the game's decisive touchdown on 1st-and-30 in the fourth quarter is the prime example of how Romo constantly thwarted and frustrated the Giants' defense.


DeMarcus Ware

It was a landmark night for DeMarcus Ware, who eclipse the 100-sack mark for his career. He dropped Eli Manning twice in the first half and was a constant matchup problem for Big Blue's blocking schemes.

Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan moved him around a lot and the Giants did all they could to get a tight end over Ware. However, no matter where he was rushing from and how many blockers were in front of him, the G-Men simply couldn't keep Ware out of their offensive backfield.


Kevin Ogletree

As well as Romo and Ware played, the real star for the Cowboys was Kevin Ogletree. The fourth-year pro emerged from obscurity to prove he can occupy the vital third wide receiver role.

Ogletree ran sharp routes all night and showed a useful habit of responding to Romo's ability to freelance. He worked the underneath effectively and also showed the ability to stretch a secondary on his 40-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter.

Eight receptions for 114 yards and two scores is a stellar effort from an unheralded player. That's good news for the Cowboys, considering Miles Austin's injury issues and concerns about Dez Bryant's temperament. Ogletree has taken only one game to soften the blow of losing Laurent Robinson in free agency.


DeMarco Murray

Credit to Jason Garrett, for once he stayed patient with the running game, despite its ineffectiveness in the first half. Garrett trusted DeMarco Murray's persistence to eventually wear down the Giants' defense and it certainly did.

Murray's initial quickness and power after first contact, led to some pivotal big gains in the second half and crucially helped the Cowboys control the clock. The second-year runner perfectly supplemented Romo's efforts with 131 punishing yards on the ground.

If Murray can be a true workhorse, the Cowboys' offense should have the balance to be too much for any defense.



The Cowboys made a huge statement by ending their brief jinx against the defending NFC East champions. These five players produced the big plays they needed to do it, when the Cowboys needed them the most.