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Quick Thoughts: Week 1, New York Giants

The Dallas Cowboys kicked off their 2015 campaign with a tumultuous victory over the divisional rival New York Giants. Tony Romo orchestrated a masterful touchdown drive in the final minute and a half capped by an 11 yard strike to Jason Witten giving the Cowboys an unlikely 27-26 win. It was a game that will go down as evidence in favor of Romo’s place amongst the top QBs in the game.

That being said, while the final drive was masterful the rest of the game wasn’t pretty. In fact there were moments that were downright ugly. Wide receivers were dropping passes. Balls were deflecting off of hands directly for to the Giants for momentum swinging interceptions. Until the final drive it was a case of whatever can go wrong will go wrong for the Cowboys.

Play of the Game

With the Cowboys leading 6-3 and dominating the game, both in terms of yardage and time of possession, Romo was once again leading the Cowboys down the field with eyes on padding the lead before the half. Instead Cole Beasley fumbled at the end of a 14 yard catch and run and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie returned the loose ball 57 yards for a touchdown that changed the complexion of the game. The fumble return touchdown gave the Giants their first lead of the game and they never trailed until Witten scored in the dying seconds.

Three Stars

Third Star: Jason Witten – Romo looked Witten’s direction when it counted most. Witten caught a pair of fourth quarter TDs to bring the Cowboys back from the jaws of defeat. Witten finished the game with 8 receptions for 60 yards and two scores.

Second Star: Cowboys Secondary – Typically I will just give these awards out to individual players but I find it very tough to pick just one guy out of this group. JJ Wilcox rocked Odell Beckham Jr. in the first quarter and set the tone for the evening. From their Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne both handled Beckham with great success. Overall Beckham finished with just 5 catches for 44 yards. A far cry from what he did to the Cowboys a year ago.

First Star: Tony Romo – As mentioned above Romo marched the Cowboys down the field with little time remaining to win the game. Throughout the evening Romo looked crisp finishing with 356 yards on 36/45 passing, three touchdowns and a 103.3 QB rating. If not for the dropped passes Romo could have reached 400 yards. He did throw a pair of interceptions but neither can be placed squarely on his shoulders. The first Romo and Witten should probably share the blame. The pass from Romo was behind Witten but at the same time it’s a catch we have seen Witten make many times and he should have been able to come up with it. The second was entirely on Devin Street. Romo hit Street square in the numbers and the second year wideout simply failed to hold onto the ball.

Final Thoughts

  • After the game the Cowboys received some bad news. Dez Bryant was diagnosed with a broken bone in his foot. He will have surgery to have a screw inserted and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. Randy Gregory was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain and is also expected to be out 4-6 weeks. These timelines suggest that the pair could return after the Cowboys Week 6 bye. While it hurts to lose both players initial reaction to the injures had Cowboys fans fearing the worst.
  • We have all wondered at some point, “why don’t the Cowboys utilize Lance Dunbar more?” Well they finally got the shift running back involved and he made the case to be a mainstay in the offense. Dunbar never took a handoff but did catch eight passes for 70 yards.
  • Sean Lee returned to being the leader of this defense. Lee finished with a team high seven solo tackles and two assists. Hitchens and Wilber also played well but this defense will get to another level with the return of Rolando McClain. Having Lee and McClain on the field together should allow the Cowboys to boast one of the top linebacker units in the league.

The Cowboys got away with one in their season opener. Next up is a road trip to Philadelphia. Without the likes of Greg Hardy, Rolando McClain, Dez Bryant and Randy Gregory the Cowboys will have an uphill battle. If the Cowboys play like this against the Eagles they likely won’t be as lucky. A lot of work will be done this week on the practice field to ensure a performance like this does not happen two weeks in a row.

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    We might lose a game, we might lose a first down; they may score a touchdown, someone may get hurt– but you have to persevere.

    — Jason Garrett