New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys: Score, Grades and Analysis
Tony Romo took what the defense gave him to complete 36 of his 49 passes for 263 yards and two touchdowns. He found Jason Witten and Miles Austin for short gains throughout the game, and it was enough to come away with the win.
However, the bigger story was the Giants' sloppy play. They turned the ball over six times, giving the squad little chance of coming away with a victory.
These struggles started right away, as Eli Manning threw an interception to DeMarcus Ware on the first play from scrimmage. This led to a field goal for the Cowboys, but the issues did not end there.
On the next two drives, the Giants had two more turnovers: one fumble by David Wilson and another interception thrown by Manning. NBC Sports pointed out the extent of the team's early problems:
Bleacher Report's Michael Schottey could not help taking shots at the Giants quarterback for his play:
If Eli Manning threw a football at the ocean right now, I'm not sure he'd hit water— Michael Schottey (@Schottey) September 9, 2013
The only time the Giants were able to put points on the board was when Ryan Mundy returned a Romo interception to the 1-yard line. However, they only managed to get a field goal.
Dallas got a field goal and then built up the lead to 13-3 on a touchdown reception by Witten, as noted by SportsCenter:
Tony Romo to Jason Witten for a TOUCHDOWN. You may have seen that play once or twice before— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 9, 2013
In fact, this play happened twice in the game, as he also scored a second touchdown in the second half.
Before that, however, the Giants showed signs of life in the second quarter with this 70-yard touchdown pass from Manning to Victor Cruz:
But, the team could not sustain this success for long. On its first drive of the second half, Wilson fumbled for a second time. This time, it was returned all the way for a touchdown.
When Witten scored again in the third quarter to build up a 17-point lead, it seemed over. However, two more touchdowns by Cruz kept it a one-possession game.
Despite all of the struggles, New York ended up with a chance to win in the final minutes, as noted by Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News:
Cowboys 30, Giants 24. Giants have the ball at their own 17, 2:41 to go ... So, Eli has them right where he wants them?— Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoNYDN) September 9, 2013
Unfortunately, Manning threw the ball into the arms of cornerback Brandon Carr, who ran it back for a touchdown to give Dallas a 36-24 lead.
This produced a famous image that football fans have seen plenty of times over the years:
Eli Manning face pic.twitter.com/FUH4TLs4bQ— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 9, 2013
Although the Giants did get another score on a four-yard pass to Brandon Myers, it was too little, too late, as Dallas was simply able to kneel on the ball to secure the win. That puts the Cowboys into first place in the NFC East for the moment. The Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins will also battle for that spot on Monday night.
Still, Dallas can feel good about defeating a division rival to get a strong start to the year.
David Wilson, RB, Giants: F
Giants coach Tom Coughlin hates running backs who fumble. This issue prevented Wilson from getting playing time at the start of last season despite his obvious potential.
While 2013 was supposed to be a breakout season for the second-year running back, two fumbles in this game might have derailed that plan.
Wilson managed only 19 yards on seven carries before coming out in favor of Da'Rel Scott, and there are serious questions about his role going forward.
Victor Cruz, WR, Giants: A+
On a day when nothing was going right for the Giants offense, Cruz took over to have an incredible performance.
The salsa dancer finished with 118 yards to go with three touchdowns, matching a career high, according to ESPN Stats and Information:
Victor Cruz's 2nd career game with 3 receiving TDs (Week 5, 2012 vs Browns).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 9, 2013
He showed that he can make big plays and go over the middle to get tough catches, and he made fantasy owners very happy thanks to a huge effort.
Tony Romo, QB, Cowboys: B
Although Romo was not at his best, he did what it took to get his team a win. In a league where every game matters, this is the most important thing.
The often-criticized quarterback let the game come to him, taking advantage of short passes while generally avoiding mistakes. The one interception almost ended up devastating, but he certainly played better than his counterpart.
After so many games where he played well but got a loss, Romo earned this victory.
Jason Witten, TE, Cowboys: A
While Witten is now 31 years old, the tight end appears to just be getting better with age. He had a career-high 110 receptions last season, and he seems to be picking up right where he left off.
Throughout the game, he was a consistent check-down target, and he finished with eight catches for 70 yards and two touchdowns.
Dez Bryant was supposed to take over as the go-to target in Dallas, but Witten is not going away anytime soon.
The Cowboys will travel to face the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 2. Andy Reid's new team is coming off a strong showing in its first game, and it is clearly much better than the 2-14 version from last year.
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