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Dallas 45, N.Y. Giants 35: Nervous Moments, But a Great Win

Dallas Cowboys New York Giants

The Cowboys overcame a shaky start, plus two potential meltdowns at the end of both halves, to prevail 45-35 against the Giants on Sunday night. Tony Romo had a great game statistically, throwing for 345 yards and four touchdowns. His final TD, a 51-yarder to receiver Sam Hurd, put the game away.

Historically, here is where this win stands:

* Second time this decade that the Cowboys have opened the season with a win (Dallas beat San Diego 28-24 in 2005).
* First time since 1998 that the Cowboys opened at home and won the game (Dallas beat Arizona 38-10 at Texas Stadium).
* Most combined points scored (80) in the 90-game series between the Cowboys and Giants, beating the previous record of 73 (1973 and 1980).

Key Plays

1st Quarter (13:42): Eli Manning hit Plaxico Burress on a 60-yard touchdown. The pass was a deep post, and Burress beat Anthony Henry badly. Worst way to start the season defensively, but at least the Giants missed the extra point. Burress had 144 yards on eight receptions, plus three touchdowns.

1st Quarter (10:52): Romo found Jason Witten for a 23-yard gain on a third-and-6, giving Dallas the ball in New York territory. The Cowboys cut the lead to 6-3 with a Nick Folk field goal later in the drive.

2nd Quarter (starting at 12:01): The Cowboys started a drive on their own 44, and Romo immediately found Marion Barber on a 29-yard gain. Barber capped off the drive with an 18-yard touchdown to give Dallas a 10-6 lead.

2nd Quarter (7:52): Jacques Reeves picked off an Eli Manning pass on a third-and-seven from the Giant 29. Dallas scored on the ensuing drive when Romo hit Witten on a 12-yard touchdown pass. Dallas led 17-6 at that point.

2nd Quarter (0:21): After the Giants scored a touchdown to cut the Dallas lead to 17-13, Tyson Thompson fumbled on the ensuing kickoff. The turnover allowed the Giants to trim the lead even further after a field goal.

3rd Quarter (12:07): After Terrell Owens did not have a catch in the first half, Romo found Terrell Owens on two consecutive plays, including a 22-yard touchdown. It gives Dallas a 24-16 lead. Julius Jones also had a 21-yard run on the drive.

3rd Quarter (3:08): Three minutes after a Giant field goal, Romo hit Witten on a 38-yard pass to move the Cowboys to the New York 29. Three plays later, Romo ran it in from nine yards out to extend the Dallas lead to 31-19.

4th Quarter (11:52): Following another Giant field goal, Romo appeared to give the Cowboys a solid lead by hitting Owens on another touchdown, this time for 47 yards. The score gave Dallas a 38-22 lead.

4th Quarter (7:26): Manning cut the lead to 38-28 after a nine-yard score to Derrick Ward. On the Cowboys’ next drive, Romo was intercepted by Gibril Wilson, and Manning responded by throwing another touchdown. With 4:09 remaining, the Dallas lead was down to 38-35.

4th Quarter (3:11): On a third-and-seven from the Dallas 49, Romo threw a short slant to Sam Hurd, who raced past the Giant secondary for a 51-yard touchdown. The score gave the Cowboys a 45-35 lead and put the game away.

Who Looked Good?

Tony Romo

Romo looked shaky to start the game, but he made the plays that counted the most. His interception in the fourth quarter was not something he needs to repeat, though.

Stats: 15/24, 345 yards, 4 TD, 1 Int. (plus a rushing touchdown).

Jason Witten

Witten ran free over the middle all night and finished with 116 yards on six receptions.

Stats: 6 rec., 116 yards, 1 TD.

Terrell Owens

Dallas pays this guy to make the plays. His two touchdowns were huge.

Stats: 3 rec., 87 yards, 2 TD.

Marion Barber

Although Julius Jones had more carries and did not look bad, Barber seems to find ways to make extra yards.

Stats: 11 att., 65 yards, 1 TD.

Anthony Spencer

Give the kid credit– a rookie playing in his first game, and he was around the ball several times.

The Not-So-Goods

Anthony Henry

Cornerback Anthony Henry is no better now that he was last season. Burress made Henry look lost on the Giants’ first touchdown.

Roy Williams

Although Williams had eight tackles, he missed several as well, continuing to demonstrate that he will not wrap up. He also was not effective in coverage.

Offensive Line

Although not a terrible effort, the offensive line should have been more dominant, given that the Giants lost Osi Umenyiora early in the game and that the Giants played Michael Strahan sparingly. Fortunately, Romo was sacked only one time.

Stay Tuned…

Monday (9/10): Instant Trivia: Cowboys vs. Giants
Tuesday (9/11): Answers to Questions Waiting for Answers
Wednesday (9/12): Stats, Line Betting, and Fantasy
Thursday (9/13) Questions Waiting for Answers
Friday (9/14): History and Trivia
Saturday (9/15): Preview of Sunday’s Game
Sunday (9/16): Dallas at Miami, 3:05 p.m.

Not the Way to End a Half: Dallas 17, N.Y. Giants 16

Jason WittenThe Cowboys came alive in the first half, jumping out to a 17-6 lead behind the efforts of Jason Witten and Marion Barber. However, the Giants scored late in the first half, Tyson Thompson fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and the Giants were able to kick a field goal. Thus, the Dallas lead was down to 17-16 at the half.

Tony Romo has completed 8 of 15 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown to Witten. Witten had five catches for 78 yards, plus the score. Terrell Owens did not have a catch.

Last Minute News: Will Dallas Pursue Reche Caldwell?

The injury to receiver Terry Glenn has dominated the Cowboys’ news this week, for obvious reasons. Although Dallas has some talent in other receivers, including Patrick Crayton and Sam Hurd, none have Glenn’s experience or big-play ability.

Reche CaldwellFormer Patriots’ receiver Reche Caldwell has reportedly expressed interest in coming to Dallas. This is from SI’s FanNation:

The agent for WR Reche Caldwell contacted the Cowboys yesterday. Caldwell led Patriots’ receivers with 760 yards and four TDs last season but was cut after New England significantly upgraded its WR corps. Wade Phillips should know Caldwell well. The Chargers drafted Caldwell with their second-round pick in 2002, and he had four mostly mediocre seasons in San Diego. But he left a much better impression on Phillips the last time they met. Caldwell had seven catches for 80 yards and a TD in the Patriots’ playoff win over the Chargers. Caldwell isn’t considered a great deep threat, but he had a 49-yard catch to set up New England’s winning field goal.

At least coach Wade Phillips has the right attitude. He says the team won’t whine about its injuries. On the other hand, I may whine about my prediction from the other day:

And in all honesty, a loss in the opener is really inexcusable unless all of the injured players (Terry Glenn, Terence Newman, Greg Ellis) end up missing the game.

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Several of us really wanted Dallas to take a receiver early in the draft. It is possible that Isaiah Stanback could contribute this year, but I will continue to watch some other players that Dallas could have taken in the first three rounds:

Dwayne Bowe (Kansas City, 23rd)
Robert Meachem (New Orleans, 27th)
Craig Davis (San Diego, 30th)
Anthony Gonzalez (Indianapolis, 32rd)
Sidney Rice (Minnesota, 44th)
Dwayne Jarrett (Carolina, 45th)
Steve Smith (N.Y. Giants, 51st)
Jacoby Jones (Houston, 73rd)
Yamon Figures (Baltimore, 74th)
Laurent Robinson (Atlanta, 75th)
Jason Hill (San Francisco, 76th)
James Jones (Green Bay, 78th)
Mike Walker (Jacksonville, 79th)
Paul Williams (Tennessee, 80th)
Johnnie Lee Higgins (Oakland, 99th)

Classic Trivia, Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants: Name That Year

The quiz below features ten questions about the rivalry between the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants. For each question, guess the year in which the event described took place. Each of the games that the questions refer to were played in Dallas.
Make your own Quiz!

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ESPN featured this preview of the Cowboys-Giants game. Ron Jaworski discusses the change in the Cowboys’ defensive philosophy.

Preview: Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants

Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants

Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants
Sunday, September 9
7:15 p.m. CDT
Texas Stadium
Television: NBC
Radio: Dallas Cowboys Radio Network (click here to find a station)
Spread (BetUS): Dallas favored by 6.
Over/Under: 44

The injury situation is the primary topic of conversation for the Cowboys this week. The Cowboys learned that receiver Terry Glenn will miss at least the first two weeks of the season, meaning that Patrick Crayton will get the start and that Sam Hurd will be the third receiver.

The news is slightly better for cornerback Terence Newman, who will likely gut it out and play against the Giants, but he won’t be 100%. The news goes south again with respect to linebackers Greg Ellis and Kevin Burnett. Ellis apparently can’t lift his heel and will miss as much as half of the season, according to reports. Burnett is 50-50 for the Giants game.

For the Giants, Michael Strahan is reportedly ready to play. Cornerback Sam Madison is also eager to play, but he is still trying to recover from a hamstring injury.

Questions Waiting for Answers: Revived

Tony RomoThe last Questions Waiting for Answers post was on Sunday, January 7, one day after the Cowboys’ 21-20 loss to Seattle in the first round of the 2006 playoffs. Some 241 days later, here we are, and we have some of the same questions despite different coaches and a few different players. I thought it might be a good idea to review the last set of questions before we address this weekend’s game against the Giants:

Last Season vs. Seattle:
(1) Can the Cowboys find a way to generate any pressure? The 4-3 look seemed to work a little bit better last week, but it still wasn’t enough. The ineffectiveness of the blitz has gone far beyond head-scratching, and these ends (Spears, Canty) are anything but awe-inspiring. Something needs to change, either now or next season.

This Season:
(1) Can the Cowboys find a way to generate any pressure? The blitz packages should be more aggressive this season, but the faces– with the exception of Anthony Spencer– are largely the same. If Eli Manning has more than five seconds to throw the ball, we may conclude that our problems are much more personnel-related than system-related.

Last Season vs. Seattle:
(2) Running game? Oh, running game? Are you there, running game? The two-headed monster of Jones and Barber has turned into a two-headed mouse, with the two gaining a combined 40 yards or so in the past two games. Nothing more needs to be said.

This Season:
(2) Does Julius Jones prove that he belongs in a Cowboys uniform after this year? Does Marion Barber push Julius right out the door?

In reading the question from last season, I had forgotten that the running game had struggled so much.

Last Season vs. Seattle:
(3) Can the Cowboys take advantage of a banged-up Seattle secondary? Quite a bit has been made of this, but I wouldn’t simply assume that Dallas will be able to throw all over the place on the Seahawks. That solution would be just too easy.

This Season:
(3) Can the Cowboys take advantage of a Giants’ secondary that might be without Sam Madison? I personally have faith that Tony Romo will have a very good season but that it might not be enough to overcome some nagging injuries (see below).

Dallas Cowboys

Last Season vs. Seattle:
Does Tony Romo need that second hand for something other than to cover the football? I haven’t played quarterback (at least in organized tackle football) for 17 years, but I don’t recall it being a great advantage to be able to run around with only one hand on the ball. I do, however, remember that it was quite dangerous.

This Season:
(4) Will Romo continue to have his turnover problems? I did not notice any big mechanical problems during preseason, but it has now been 18 years since I played, so who am I to judge?

Last Season vs. Seattle:
(5) Are we seeing the last of Bill Parcells and/or Terrell Owens?

This Season:
(5).500 isn’t a bad percentage, is it? I’ll kick myself for typing this, but I’m starting to get used to Owens.

New Questions:
(6) Does anyone mind if I borrow from Vic Carucci? His general questions about the Cowboys:

Will the Dallas Cowboys’ season of high expectations get off to a bad start because of a long injury list that includes cornerback Terence Newman (heel), wide receiver Terry Glenn (knee), and linebackers Greg Ellis (Achilles) and Kevin Burnett (ankle)? Also, given the angry public reaction of safety Roy Williams, will there be any lingering acrimony from the Cowboys’ decision to release veteran cornerback Aaron Glenn? And how much will the surprising suspension of quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson, who will miss the first five games for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances, affect the early season progress of Tony Romo?

(7) Can the Cowboys Win?

Answer: Yes. Dallas has more talent than anyone in the NFC East, and the Giants are currently retooling. And in all honesty, a loss in the opener is really inexcusable unless all of the injured players (Terry Glenn, Terence Newman, Greg Ellis) end up missing the game.

Things That Could Haunt the Cowboys

Aaron GlennI do not recall last year’s cuts being the subject of so much news, but the Cowboys’ release of Aaron Glenn has been discussed about as much as any roster move in a while. While this certainly does not compare with the signing and release Mike Vanderjagt or the signing of Terrell Owens, it’s still a very questionable move. Glenn, by the way, signed with Jacksonville on Monday.

The second move that may prove to be a mistake is the release of quarterback Matt Moore, who was later signed by Carolina. This has prompted the Dallas Morning News blog to suggest that Super Bowl XLV (hosted by Dallas) will feature Brady Quinn and the Cleveland Browns against Moore and the Carolina Panthers. This post prompted me to think of a few other nightmares that the Cowboys could face.

(1) Injuries at Linebacker

Given the Cowboys’ emphasis on the linebacker position in the past several drafts, one might think that the team would have some depth here. Not so. Greg Ellis might return, but whether he will be effective at all is a big question mark. Kevin Burnett has battled injuries as well. I am not sure about Justin Rogers, but I would not think that a guy signed from waivers is any sort of savior. Bobby Carpenter has looked much better, but Anthony Spencer has had trouble.

The nightmare would be one more injury to any of the following: Ware, James, Ayodele, or Carpenter. Dallas would then have to hope that Spencer can mature by a year or two or that Burnett and/or Ellis can turn a 180 to better health.

(2) Cornerback Hell

The injury to Terence Newman’s heel could be what drops the Cowboys from a 10 or 11 win season to .500 or so. Moreover, Anthony Henry has battled injury problems since he joined the team, and his injuries last year made him a liability. Losing both would mean that Dallas would likely start two former seventh-round picks in Nate Jones and Jacques Reeves (perhaps Evan Oglesby has some talent, but he is so new that I doubt he would be an immediate starter). Todd Archer has more on the cornerback spot.

(3) Dallas Needs a Third Quarterback After All

I can’t help but think that Dallas chose to keep either Oliver Hoyte or Deon Anderson instead of quarterback Matt Moore. And while I don’t dislike either Hoyte or Anderson, I tend to think that a quality third-stringer could be more important than a backup fullback. If for some reason Tony Romo or Brad Johnson become injured, Richard Bartel (now on the practice squad) could be thrust into the backup role.

(4) Jerheme Urban Becomes a Superstar

Just two days after I took the time to make an animated GIF of Urban’s punt return for a touchdown against Minnesota, he was gone (and later off to Arizona). He’s worth keeping an eye on for a while.

(5) Nick Folk Looks Like a Rookie

I’m not saying it was a bad move to keep Folk over Gramatica, but I can’t imagine how many of us could handle another subpar kicker year.

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I haven’t shown many videos lately, but here is one showing Don Meredith and Willard Scott in a Lipton Tea commercial:

Early Predictions for Season Opener

Dallas Cowboys New York GiantsIn almost exactly one week, Dallas will be playing the New York Giants in the season opener at Texas Stadium. The predictions have already begun, and the majority appear to be siding with the Cowboys. Here are a couple of sources to get us started.

Accuscore

Accuscore predicts that the Cowboys are most likely to have a 10-win season, and according to the graphic that I have posted below, the site gives the Cowboys a 65% chance of winning next Sunday. I won’t pretend to have any idea how this site came up with that percentage, but I will track this site during the year to see.

Dallas Cowboys New York Giants

Pigskin Pick’em

I have played Pigskin Pick’em for several years now (not very well) and will continue to do so this year. Dallas is favored by 3 1/2 in this game, and the majority of players have picked the Cowboys to win. Here are the results thus far:

No Spread

Dallas: 82.6%, New York Giants: 17.4%

This is a little bit surprising, but many of these votes may have come before Michael Strahan announced that he would rejoin the team. Still, it is encouraging that so many think that the Cowboys will win their opener.

Spread

Dallas: 73%, New York Giants: 27%

The last time that the Cowboys defeated the Giants by more than three points was on December 21, 2003, in a 19-3 victory at home. Since the start of the 2003 season, Dallas has gone 4-4 against the Giants, and three of those wins were by three points. Thus, the 3 1/2 points worry me about. (That said, I never go against the Cowboys, for that would be very bad luck…).

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Roster Updates

After one day, we already have roster updates. The Cowboys cut safety Abram Elam and cornerback Alan Ball. In their place, Dallas signed outside linebacker Justin Rogers (released by New England) and cornerback Evan Oglesby (released by Baltimore).

Three players that the Cowboys released have signed with other teams, including defensive lineman Remi Ayodele (Atlanta), quarterterback Matt Moore (Carolina), and receiver Jerheme Urban (Arizona).

A Look at the Final Roster Cuts

The Cowboys announced their final roster cuts on Saturday, and though most were expected, there were still some moves that were curious. Here are some notes about these cuts.

Note: Updates are noted below.

Quarterback

Kept:
Tony Romo
Brad Johnson

Released:
Matt Moore (signed by Carolina on Sept. 2)
Richard Bartel

Keeping only two quarterbacks has been discussed as a possibility. Moore looked pretty good in the preseason, and if he can clear waivers, there is a good chance he will make the practice squad.

(Update, 9/2: Moore didn’t clear waivers and is headed to Carolina)

Running Back

Kept:
Julius Jones
Marion Barber
Tyson Thompson

Waived:
Alonzo Coleman

Thompson had a good preseason, and Coleman had only an outside shot to make the team.

Fullback

Kept:
Oliver Hoyte
Deon Anderson

Waived:
Lousaka Polite

The only possible surprise was that Dallas kept two fullbacks.

Receiver

Kept:
Terry Glenn
Terrell Owens
Patrick Crayton
Sam Hurd
Miles Austin
Isaiah Stanback

Waived:
Mike Jefferson
Damarius Bilbo
Jerhume Urban

Urban’s punt return against the Vikings was not enough for him to earn a roster spot. His fumble as a receiver a few minutes late could not have helped. Sam Hurd and Miles Austin looked good in the preseason, and Stanback has a big upside.

(Update, 9/2: Urban was picked up by Arizona).

Tight End

Kept:
Jason Witten
Anthony Fasano
Tony Curtis

Waived:
Rodney Hannah
Adam Bergen

Curtis showed very good promise this preseason and deserves this spot.

Offensive Line

Kept:
Flozell Adams
Kyle Kosier
Andre Gurode
Leonard Davis
Marc Colombo
Cory Procter
Doug Free
Pat McQuistan
Joe Berger
James Marten

Waived:
Trey Darilek
Matt Tarullo

The Cowboys decided to go with a backup for each position. However, the backups have very little experience.

Defensive Line

Kept:
Chris Canty
Jason Ferguson
Marcus Spears
Jason Hatcher
Jay Ratliff
Stephen Bowen

Waived:
Remi Ayodele

Ayodele was the answer to the trivia question about who had five tackles against Minnesota. However, Akin’s brother did not show enough to make the cut.

(Update, 9/2: Ayodele is headed to Atlanta).

Linebacker

Kept:
Greg Ellis
DeMarcus Ware
Bradie James
Akin Ayodele
Anthony Spencer
Kevin Burnett
Bobby Carpenter
(Update): Justin Rogers

Waived:
Junior Glymph
Blair Phillips
John Saldi
Khari Long

Although Dallas has talent at linebacker, these cuts mean that Dallas will rely heavily on Carpenter and Burnett as backups. Moreover, Spencer has struggled a bit during the preseason.

(Update, 9/2: Dallas signed outside linebacker Justin Rogers off of waivers from New England).

Cornerbacks

Kept:
Terence Newman
Anthony Henry
Jacques Reeves
Nate Jones
(Update, 9/2: Evan Oglesby)

Waived:
Joey Thomas
Aaron Glenn
Quincy Butler
(Update, 9/2): Alan Ball

Cutting Glenn was the move that made news. The 35-year-old veteran started the final three preseason games, and Newman’s health is a huge question mark. Thomas showed promise, but apparently not enough.

(Update: Ball could be resigned to the practice squad if he clears waivers. Dallas signed Oglesby after he was waived by Baltimore).

Safeties

Kept:
Roy Williams
Ken Hamlin
Keith Davis
Pat Watkins
Courtney Brown

Waived:
(Update, 9/2): Abram Elam

(Update: Cutting Elam one day after announcing the roster cuts was a little bit of a surprise, given that he had a good preseason and is very good on special teams).

Special Teams

Kept:
Mat McBriar
Nick Folk
L.P. Ladouceur

Injured Reserve:
Martin Gramatica

Folk had a good preseason, but we have not seen him in a pressure situation. His leg strength, though, should be cause for excitement this year.

Instant Trivia: Final Preseason Version

Given that fewer than a third of the Cowboys’ starters played in the final preseason game against Minnesota, I chose to have an abbreviated version of Instant Trivia. Thus, we only have five questions. Please forgive.


Make your own Quiz!

For highlights of Thursday’s game, click on the image below:

Dallas Cowboys Minnesota Vikings