It is hard to overstate the importance of the Dallas Cowboys’ victory over their NFC East rivals in the first game of the 2012 NFL season. The New York Giants won the Super Bowl for a reason, and to beat them convincingly is a great accomplishment. The win should also exercise some demons from the Cowboys’ collective psyche after losing 5 of the last 6 to the G-Men. It may also silence the frequency with which Cowboy fans have to hear about how Tony Romo can’t beat Eli Manning. In addition to my initial thoughts and reactions, I am going to go deep and see exactly how the Cowboys played so well. Here are my initial thoughts:
Aug 25, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray (29) runs with the ball against St Louis Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis (55) in the first quarter at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE
RB DeMarco Murray was lights out and played physical, but what was he doing on that run? Dez was leading him to the promised land.
The O-Line was catching flack all preseason and most Cowboys fans wrote them off as being a weakness, but I maintained they weren’t, and this performance seems to validate the view that they are not that bad. They are not a dominant line, but the way the league is set up now, dominant lines don’t exist. Against one of the best pass-rushing d-lines in the NFL, they were solid, albeit with a lot of false starts.
Dez Bryant was good when he was targeted, which wasn’t that much due to the game plan.
Sep 5, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Dallas Cowboys linebacker Bruce Carter (54) and New York Giants running back Henry Hynoski (45) during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim O
The whole defense was outstanding, even ILB Bruce Carter, who I thought was bad in the preseason (albeit in a small sample size) came to play.
If there was one weakness to the defense, it was CB Morris Claiborne’s run defense. He looked timid, to say the least.
Punter Chris Jones had a nice night, averaging 54 yards a punt and pinning the Giants inside their 20 on both of his punts.
DB Mana Silva played dime back, mostly at safety.
Sept 5, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants running back Andre Brown (35) is stopped by Dallas defenders Lawrence Vickers (47) and Mana Silva (36) during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray/THE STAR-LEDGER via US PRESSWIRE
Cole Beasley is the fourth WR.
Cowboys 5-wide from left to right – Bryant, Beasley, Austin, Witten, Ogletree (Beasley subbed for Jones at one point, except Jones was widest WR).
DTs Sean Lissemore and Josh Brent saw some action on the nose with NT Jay Ratliff unable to play.
According to the NFL gamebook Mana Silva played 22/56 snaps (39%) defensively.
Other interesting snap numbers – Mario Butler saw 7/56 (12%), Butler 6/56 (11%), Carter 30/56 (54%), ILB Dan Connor 4/56 (7%), and rookie Tryone Crawford 3/56 (5%).
Giants’ RB Bradshaw’s big run with 5:12 left in the fourth quarter was one of those plays where the defense calls a blitz to one side and the offense runs the other way, i.e. bad luck.
In the single WR set, Bryant, not Austin, is the lone WR.
“How’d you do that little spin move of yours?”
My look at the Cowboys vs. Giants game will conclude with my grades for each unit of the offense, defense, and special teams. It will be posted at 11:00 a.m. today.
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