A year ago in the Cowboys’ season opener, Tyron Smith committed a false-start penalty on the first play, DeMarco Murray fumbled on his first carry and they were booed off the field trailing the 49ers, 28-3, at halftime.
Three months later? Smith was an All-Pro, Murray led the NFL in rushing and Dallas finished 12-4 and won its division and a playoff game.
Meanwhile, San Francisco imploded to 8-8, missed the playoffs and fired head coach Jim Harbaugh.
Two years ago in the Cowboys’ opener, DeMarcus Ware intercepted Eli Manning on the first snap and later in the game both Barry Church and Brandon Carr scored defensive touchdowns in a pulsating 36-31 victory over the Giants.
Monte Kiffin’s new opportunistic defense forced six turnovers and the Cowboys parlayed the momentum into … 8-8.
Moral to the story: First impressions aren’t the most important at all. Give me lasting impressions.
First impressions can be dead wrong. As the Cowboys have proved the last two seasons, first impressions are in no guaranteed to be accurately predictive of future performance.
So enjoy Sunday night’s opener against the Giants at AT&T Stadium. Just control the jerking of your knees afterward, and hope the game cracks my list of the Top 10 all-time Most Memorable Openers:
10. Sept. 5, 2012 — Cowboys 24, at Giants 17 — Kevin Ogletree’s two TD catches help upset the Super Bowl champs on the road.
9. Sept. 15, 1968 — Cowboys 59, Lions 13 — Don Meredith throws 4 TDS as Dallas establishes record for most points in a game.
8. Sept. 18, 1977 — Cowboys 16, at Vikings 10 — Roger Staubach scores from 4 yards out in OT to launch a Super Bowl season.
7. Sept. 12, 2010 — at Redskins 13, Cowboys 7 — Alex Barron's holding penalty wipes out Tony Romo's would-be, game-winning touchdown to Roy Williams in the final seconds.
6. Sept. 10, 1989 — at Saints 28, Cowboys 0 — A sobering debut en route to 1-15 disaster for Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Jones.
5. Sept. 12, 1999 — Cowboys 41, at Redskins 35 — Troy Aikman 76 yards to Rocket Ismail in OT caps frantic rally from 21 down.
4. Sept. 7, 1992 — Cowboys 23, Redskins 10 — Isiaac Holt blocks a punt and Dallas ignites its dynasty by upsetting the Super Bowl champs on MNF.
3. Sept. 9, 1986 — at Cowboys 31, Giants 28 — Herschel Walker scores late to climax a successful, much-hyped debut with Tony Dorsett.
2. Sept. 8, 2002 — at Texans 19, Cowboys 10 — Jerry Jones still calls the hapless loss to expansion Houston his most humbling.
1. Sept. 5, 1983 — Cowboys 31, at Redskins 30 — Danny White’s TD pass to Tony Hill helps erase 20-point halftime deficit on MNF.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.