The Cowboys and their fans suffered through a Tony Romo health scare and some nerve-wracking moments authored by Eli Manning, but they emerged from the season opener on Sunday night with their first ever win over Manning & co. at the newly renamed AT&T Stadium, 36-31.
The new defensive staff came in with a strong emphasis on creating turnovers from Day 1, and this emphasis saw some serious returns Sunday, particularly early.
Dallas got three takeaways from the Giants on their first three series, all early in the first quarter--a DeMarcus Ware interception, a George Selvie fumble recovery and a Will Allen interception--but only came away with three points on a 30-yard Dan Bailey field goal as a result. The Giants would finish the night with six turnovers.
After leading Dallas deep into the Giants’ redzone in the late first quarter, Romo was intercepted by Prince Amukamara, who returned it to the Dallas one. But the Giants’ offense stalled at that point, opening their drive with a run for no gain and a sack for a ten-yard loss. Manning completed a nine-yard pass to tight end Brandon Myers to almost make up for those yards lost, but had to settle for a field goal to tie it up, 3-3.
Bailey opened the scoring in the second quarter with a successful 38-yard try to give Dallas the lead again.
After that, the Dallas offense finally got on track a little bit. Romo hit Witten for a 15-yard touchdown pass 13-3 to cap a nine-play, 71-yard drive. The Giants answered quickly, though. Taking advantage of a breakdown in coverage, Manning connected with Cruz on a 70-yard touchdown pass to make it 13-10 Dallas.
On the Cowboys’ next drive, Romo was sandwiched between two Giants defenders, a hit that left Romo crumpled on the turf and fans feeling pretty nervous going into the half.
Fortunately, as halftime wound to a close, we learned from NBC’s broadcast that Romo just had “the air knocked out of him” and that he’d be available for the second half, a half that begun with Dallas going on a bit of a run.
On the Giants’ first drive of the half, safety Barry Church recovered a fumble and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown to extend the Dallas lead to 20-13. Witten caught his second touchdown pass of the evening later in the third quarter to put the Cowboys even more firmly in the driver’s seat at 27-13.
Oh, but the Giants weren’t done scoring, and the Cowboys weren’t done making their fans nervous.
New York responded with Cruz’s second touchdown catch of the night. After Bailey hit on his third field goal, Cruz caught another one. This exchange left Dallas with a too-close-for-comfort lead of six, at 30-24.
With just 1:50 left in the fourth, Brandon Carr took Manning’s third and final interception to the house, but Dallas missed the two-point try to keep the lead at 12, 36-24.
Manning drove the Giants down the field at AT&T Stadium quickly and capped the possession with a four-yard pass to the tight end Myers.
Their onside kick try, however, failed, putting this one in the books and giving the Cowboys their first ever win against the Giants at AT&T Stadium.
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