Dallas Cowboys: Ranking the Top 5 Players from Week 1
With many question marks and young starters, the general consensus was the Cowboys would have a very difficult time against a team that went to the playoffs last year and is considered to be one of the elite teams in the NFL.
The Cowboys, for the first three quarters, looked like the dominant team with explosive plays and swarming defense.
While the Cowboys put up a great fight, they came up short.
The penalties, turnovers and poor special teams play led to the fourth-quarter collapse. There were many bright spots along the way, though. The season is not made in Week 1 and this team showed it has serious talent that will be difficult to stop.
Here is a look at which players led the Cowboys to a near upset of the Jets.
1. DeMarcus Ware, OLB
The defense played stellar football for most of the game while missing top cornerback Terrance Newman and, for stretches, Mike Jenkins as well as Orlando Scandrick. Ware did his part to help the inexperienced corners the Cowboys did have playing by harassing Mark Sanchez all night.
Ware continues to be one of the premier pass-rushers in the game and a dominant force in Rob Ryan's new defense. He is poised to have another huge season.
Stats: Four tackles, two sacks, three QB knockdowns
2. Sean Lee, MLB
Where did this guy come from? Sean Lee played lights-out football for the entire game. What looked to be a very problematic position to open the season now has what appears to be an emerging star.
Lee was all over the field making plays and helping to hold the Jets running game to 45 yards (a 2.8 yard-per-carry average) and zero TDs on the ground. Lee also played the pass well, making an interception and returning it 37 yards to the one-yard line. Great game by the young middle linebacker.
Stats: 12 tackles, one INT, one fumble recovered
3. Miles Austin, WR
Austin came into this game as the marked man to stop on the Cowboys offense. Early in the game the Jets defense matched top cornerback Darrelle Revis against Austin. When they shifted Revis to cover Dez Bryant, Austin took advantage.
Austin's 37-yard touchdown reception was a spectacular play where he fought for the ball and took it away from Antonio Cromartie. This offense is going to be difficult to stop with teams trying to decide which receiver to cover.
Stats: Five receptions, 90 yards, one TD
4. Dez Bryant, WR
Before Bryant sustained an injury to his leg returning a punt, he looked unstoppable. In the first quarter, he took a short pass from Romo and electrified with his open-field ability, turning the short reception into a 42-yard play. Bryant then went on to catch a short touchdown pass.
Bryant looked incredibly explosive to start the game. He wasn't the same after the injury. If he can stay healthy, he is going to be a superstar.
Stats: Three receptions, 71 yards, one TD
5. Tony Romo, QB
While his late-game meltdown played a huge part in the loss, Romo had a stellar night for someone who hasn't played in a live game since October 25, 2010. For most of the night, Romo carved up what is one of the best NFL's best defenses on the road.
For some perspective of how well Romo did against this defense, consider that only one QB had more yards passing against the stingy Jets defense last season than he threw for in the opener. If Romo can cut down on the mistakes, this team can make a run at the playoffs.
Stats: 23-of-36 passing, 342 Yards, two TDs, one INT, one fumble