Cowboys vs. Giants: What We Learned About Dallas and New York in Week 1
Every team has a weakness, no matter how dominant you are.
The Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants displayed their weaknesses on Wednesday night to start off the 2012-2013 NFL season.
It's just that the Giants showed more weaknesses in their 24-17 defeat.
It's hard to believe given what the Giants did and what the Cowboys didn't do last season, but the Cowboys looked like the better team on Wednesday, even if it proves to be for just one game.
Here's a breakdown of the problem areas and strengths of the Cowboys and Giants after Week 1.
Dallas Cowboys (1-0)
Passing Offense (Strength)
Tony Romo looked magnificent this preseason and he didn't disappoint in Week 1, going 22-of-29 for 307 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
He hit seven different receivers against the Giants and actually targeted No. 3 receiver Kevin Ogletree 11 times, which saw the four-year pro catch eight balls for 114 yards and two touchdowns (Laurent Robinson who?).
Romo has taken a lot of flack throughout his career for crumbling under the pressure when the game's on the line, but he was consistent throughout against the Giants and has the Cowboys headed in the right direction.
Running Game (Strength)
C'mon, you didn't think DeMarco Murray was going to just disappear, did you?
After rushing for 897 yards and two touchdowns on 5.5 yards per carry last season, Murray was electric to start the 2012-2013 campaign, rushing 20 times for 131 yards.
The second-year pro continues to prove the Cowboys got a bargain in the third round of the 2011 NFL draft.
This is no longer the secondary that gave up 7.6 yards per attempt last season.
The offseason acquisition of cornerback Brandon Carr was huge for Dallas and rookie Morris Claiborne held his own in press coverage (although there's reason for concern about his run defense after getting thrown to the side by Ahmad Bradshaw on his touchdown run).
Of course, you also have linebacker extraordinaire DeMarcus Ware, who registered two sacks, and a player who bears recognition, veteran defensive end Jason Hatcher. Hatcher came on strong toward the end of last season and he posted one sack, one hit and four hurries against the Giants on Wednesday.
Offensive Line (Weakness)
Let's put it this way: Tyron Smith was the Cowboys' best lineman last season and he even struggled against the Giants.
The Cowboys racked up five false starts and two holding penalties in Wednesday's game alone (per ESPN), and that still didn't keep the Giants from collecting two sacks and two hits on Romo.
Both Smith and Doug Free looked sloppy at the tackle spots on Wednesday and the interior of the line leaves a lot to be desired.
New York Giants (0-1)
Offensive Line (Weakness)
The Cowboys racked up three sacks and five hits on quarterback Eli Manning. Considering how quickly Manning gets the ball out of his hands, that's a disgrace.
Right tackle David Diehl gave up two sacks to Ware (not to mention, Ware had two QB hits) and veteran left tackle Sean Locklear had trouble with Hatcher. When you are getting hammered from both sides, it doesn't make a quarterback's job very easy.
Corey Webster, who is supposed to be the Giants' best corner, struggled throughout the game, allowing a 38-yard catch to Dez Bryant in the second quarter and a 40-yard touchdown catch to Ogletree to start the third quarter.
The Giants are also dealing with injuries, from Prince Amukamara to Michael Coe, and Coe's replacement—Justin Tyron—allowed a 34-yard touchdown to Miles Austin on a 1st-and-30 that allowed the Cowboys to put the game away late.
It's hard to say if this is a trend or not, especially with Amukamara out, but what happened to Webster in Week 1?
Running Game (Weakness)
Starting running back Ahmad Bradshaw's line on Wednesday (17 carries, 78 yards, touchdown) looks fine on first glance, but it mostly came on a 33-yard run. You take away that run and that's 2.8 yards per carry.
That has more to do with the offensive line than Bradshaw. Bradshaw was constantly trying to find room to run and the Cowboys registered five tackles for loss.
As for backup David Wilson, who is supposed to fill Brandon Jacobs' shoes, he fumbled on his second carry of the game and was promptly benched by head coach Tom Coughlin.
I will say that I like Wilson overall, but that's certainly not a way to make an entrance, and one of the knocks on him coming out of Virginia Tech was that he had issues holding on to the pigskin.
Let's be honest: There were no strengths displayed in this game for the Giants.
Should the Giants be concerned?
But if you want strengths to look for down the line, you can count on Eli Manning to have better games moving forward. He's one of the best quarterbacks in the game when it comes to making up for his line's deficiencies.
Also, I expect the defensive line to be much better moving forward. The Giants' two sacks ironically came from their defensive tackles. Osi Umenyiora was virtually non-existent in this game and he's way too talented for that to continue.
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