Tony Romo, Kevin Ogletree and the defense impress as Dallas beats New York 24-17


It was deja vu all over again for the Dallas Cowboys as they opened the 2012 NFL season in New York and held a 24-17 lead in the 4th quarter.  But this team refused to be chained to the failures of the past and willed their way to an at times dominating win over the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants.

Six quick thoughts:

– This defense is for real, people.  They held the Giants to 269 total yards (82 rushing/187 passing), but more importantly, they came up with big stops when they needed to.  Remember both games against the Giants last season, where everyone in the building knew that Eli Manning was going to casually drive the Giants down the field when he really needed to?  That didn’t happen this time.  Whether it was DeMarcus Ware racking up his 100th and 101st career sacks or Sean Lee forcing a fumble or Rob Ryan consistently making the right call on third down, the defense made plays to kill drives.  The secondary did have one huge blown coverage that set up the Giants’ 3rd quarter touchdown, but other than that, the secondary looked vastly improved over last season as well.

– A few more games like this (particularly in the playoffs) and Tony Romo will lose that already very sketchy “not clutch” critique.  Romo made one bad decision on his interception in the second quarter and was slightly off on an admittedly difficult throw to Kevin Ogletree in the end zone that caused the Cowboys to settle for a field goal after a good drive in the third.  Other than that, though, he was lights out in the biggest pressure moments: hitting Dez Bryant for 38 yards on 3rd and one w/ under 2 minutes left in the first half to set the Cowboys up for their first touchdown, engineering a touchdown on the opening drive of the second half to take control of the game and then hitting Ogletree for 13 yards on 3rd and 10 (after a DeMarco Murray 1st down run was called back for holding) to ice the game.

– Kevin Ogletree will be the most overrated pickup in fantasy football next week.  It is hard to imagine him matching his 8 catch, 114 yards and 2 touchdowns performance again this season.  Give Jason Garrett and his offensive staff credit, though, they clearly identified a matchup that was strongly in their favor and they exploited it all night.  One wonders if this is the influence of Bill Callahan?

– Discipline is still a problem.  Tony Romo’s exceptional play helped the Cowboys overcome an all-too-familiar double digit night in penalties.  13 flags for 86 yards will lose you a lot of games in the NFL, particularly the playoffs.  Especially troubling was the continuation of false start penalties even without Mr. False Start himself, Flozell Adams.

– The often maligned Anthony Spencer made two big plays when the Giants had 1st and goal inside the Cowboys’ 5 to force a FG.

– Miles Austin made an incredible TD catch when they needed him to make a big play.

There were many encouraging signs for Cowboys fans in this game as there is little doubt that this is the type of game they would have found a way to lose last season.  It is only one game, so enthusiasm should be tempered, but it was nonetheless an important win (on the road, in the division) for a team that is trying to shake an underachiever identity that has dogged them for years.

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