Dallas' offense looked good on the first day of the season. This is less than surprising. Dallas' offense seemingly always looks good on the first day of the season.
The change was in special teams, which was probably the most immediately noticeable improvement over last year.
Gerald Sensabaugh--who is looking like a difference maker, early--blocked a field goal attempt.
David Buehler made it clear why Dallas went after him as a kickoff specialist in the draft, blasting kicks through the endzone three times, giving Dallas their first touchback in more than a year. Buehler also became the first Dallas kicker since Toby Gowin, in 1998, to record more than two touchbacks in a game.
Mat McBriar looked good--no big surprise there--and, possibly more importantly, healthy. Because of his efforts, and Buehler's, Clifton Smith--Tampa Bay's Pro Bowl returner--was rendered fairly ineffective.
Nick Folk, also looking healthy, drilled two field goals, one from 51 yards out.
It's becoming abundantly clear, also, why the Cowboys went out and got special teams coach Joe DeCamillis. Coverage on kicks and punts seemed to be immoderately improved over that in past years--namely, the era of Bruce Read. It's often said that special teams can win you a game, which is true. But, in the case of the Cowboys of recent, they proved, painfully, that they can also lose them.
(Ahem, the Arizona game last year.)
If the first game of the season is any indication, the team won't have to worry about that quite as much in 2009.