A game against the Giants was up for grabs in the fourth quarter and the Cowboys didn't fold.
Welcome to the 2012 NFL season, boys and girls, and please note that it bears no resemblance to the 2011 campaign. The Cowboys won 24-17 on Wednesday night for several reasons, but the biggest one was their resolve not to let bad breaks get the best of them.
Penalties hurt the offense only as long as it took for them to regain the yards lost due to flags. An early Tony Romo interception didn't wind up hurting because the defense held firm. A key third down pass to Kevin Ogletree sealed the game instead of floating incomplete by inches to give Eli Manning a chance to play hero.
This is the point where we're supposed to tell you it's just one game and that the whole season hasn't been decided. Let the Giants console themselves with that.
The 2011 Cowboys lost the opener by melting down in the biggest moments of the game. That became the theme of their entire season. This season started in exactly the opposite fashion so, one game or not, that's a very good thing for the year to come.
Here's the rest of the good, bad and ugly from Wednesday night.
GOOD: Bad Romo showed up on that interception, but Good Romo was in control for the rest of the night. It was vintage stuff from No. 9, making plays out of nothing because of his feet and his ability to throw deep with accuracy while also standing up in the face of pressure more than once to deliver a strike. He was the better quarterback on Wednesday and the Cowboys won't lose too often when that's the case.
GOOD: Romo wasn't the only Cowboys star to do his job. DeMarco Murray ran with purpose and creativity all night. Miles Austin and Dez Bryant let Ogletree get the glory, but they both made huge plays to help the Cowboys win. DeMarcus Ware had two sacks and the new cornerback tandem held the Giants to just one big passing play all night. The Cowboys might be top heavy, but that's not a problem when the top performs.
UGLY: We applaud the gamesmanship in regard to Jason Witten, but he didn't look ready to be out there. His blocking was particularly bad, so let's hope 10 days between games gets him back on track.
BAD: The Cowboys offensive line wasn't terrible, although they had some bad moments, but the penalties were alarming. Too many false starts, too much holding and, since we're at it, the team probably got bailed out of a couple of delay penalties.
GOOD: On that note, the replacement refs weren't a big story which means they did a perfectly fine job. Calls were missed, but calls are always missed and there weren't any egregious errors despite the fact that the referee looked terrified every time he went on the microphone.
GOOD: Ogletree's status as third receiver was viewed as a problem all season, but things worked out okay for one night. It's great that his two touchdown coming out party came so close to his hometown of Queens as well, especially since the Giants passed on a chance to sign him before Dallas decided to get back in the Ogletree business.