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Dallas 37, Miami 20: The Big Plays and Points Continue

Dallas Cowboys vs. Miami Dolphins

The Cowboys had another huge second half, pulling away from Miami for a 37-20 win over the Dolphins on Sunday. Anthony Henry is certainly a candidate for MVP, with two interceptions and a recovery of an onside kick. Rookie kicker Nick Folk kicked three field goals, notwithstanding the fact that he had to kick on the dirt in the Pro Player Stadium infield.

And then there is Terrell Owens. He had five receptions in the game for 97 yards. But more importantly, four of his receptions came on third down (and each resulted in a first down), and his last reception was a 34-yard touchdown on fourth down. I have no doubt that he will take heat for the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, but he is producing when it counts.

A few notes for perspective:

* The last time that the Cowboys started 2-0 was 1999, when Dallas beat Washington and Atlanta in the first two games of the season.
* With the Green Bay win over New York, the Cowboys now have a two-game lead over the Giants. Monday night’s game between Philadelphia and Washington can turn out well for Dallas no matter who wins. A Philly win means that Dallas leads the division. A Washington win means that Dallas has a two-game lead over the Eagles.
* The last time that Dallas opened the season by scoring at least 30 points in consecutive games was 1986, when Dallas beat the Giants 31-28 and then beat Detroit 31-7. Dallas scored at least 30 points in each of its first four games that season (with a 3-1 record) before falling apart in the second half of the season.
* The last time that Dallas scored 30 or more points in back-to-back games at any time during the season was during the scab games in 1987 (a 38-24 win over the Jets, followed by a 41-22 win over Philadelphia). I think it is fair to say that those games hardly count.
* The team record for most points in the first two games of a season is 91 in 1971 (49-37 win over Buffalo and a 42-7 win over Philadelphia). The Cowboys have 82 points in their first two games this season.
* The team record for most points in any back-to-back games is 103 in 1966 (47-14 win over Atlanta and a 56-7 win over Philadelphia).

Key Plays

1st Quarter

Dallas possession, 3-4-50 (4:52): (Shotgun) 9-T.Romo pass short left to 81-T.Owens to MIA 37 for 13 yards (99-J.Taylor).

This was the first of four receptions by Owens on third down plays. His reception allowed the drive to stay alive, leading to the first Dallas field goal.

2nd Quarter

Dallas possession, 3-15-DAL 35 (7:09): (Shotgun) 9-T.Romo pass deep middle to 81-T.Owens to MIA 37 for 28 yards (44-C.Worrell). PENALTY on DAL-81-T.Owens, Delay of Game, 5 yards, enforced at MIA 37.

On the Cowboys’ first TD drive, Owens had two receptions, both on third down. The penalty for delay of game was stupid, but the Cowboys soon scored on a Marion Barber run.

Miami possession, 3-10-MIA 31 (1:13): (Shotgun) 10-T.Green pass deep middle to 86-M.Booker to DAL 43 for 26 yards (26-K.Hamlin).

The throw to Booker on third down allowed the Dolphins to get into position to kick a field goal, which cut the Cowboys’ lead at the half to 10-6.

3rd Quarter

Miami possession, 2-13-DAL 18 (9:48): 10-T.Green pass deep right to 86-M.Booker for 18 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

Booker made a nice catch along the side of the end zone. The touchdown gave the Dolphins a 13-10 lead.

Miami possession, 4-12-MIA 26 (6:13): (Punt formation) 4-B.Fields punts 53 yards to DAL 21, Center-92-J.Denney. 84-P.Crayton pushed ob at MIA 30 for 49 yards (50-E.Miles; 38-P.Cobbs).

The Dolphins had to punt twice, after the first punt was called back due to penalty. One that play, Crayton was stuffed at the Dallas 16. The second punt was much better, and Crayton’s 49-yard return gave Dallas the ball in Miami territory. Romo hit tight end Tony Curtis on a short touchdown to give the Cowboys a 17-13 lead. Romo’s throw on the play was amazing– Romo looked as if he would fall down to his left, but he released the ball to his right and hit Curtis in the end zone.

Miami possession, 1-10-MIA 31 (3:54): (Shotgun) 10-T.Green pass deep middle intended for 84-C.Chambers INTERCEPTED by 26-K.Hamlin at 50. 26-K.Hamlin pushed ob at MIA 15 for 35 yards (64-S.Satele).

Hamlin’s first interception as a Cowboy set up a Nick Folk field goal.

Miami possession, 1-10-50 (1:20): 10-T.Green Aborted. 64-S.Satele FUMBLES at 50, RECOVERED by DAL-90-J.Ratliff at MIA 48. 90-J.Ratliff to MIA 48 for no gain (64-S.Satele).

Green’s fumble on a snap set led to another Dallas field goal, giving the Cowboys a 23-13 lead. It looked as if the game was going to be a runaway after that.

Dallas possession, 4-5-MIA 34 (4:08): (Shotgun) 9-T.Romo pass deep left to 81-T.Owens for 34 yards, TOUCHDOWN. PENALTY on DAL-81-T.Owens, Unsportsmanlike Conduct, 15 yards, enforced between downs.

Anthony Henry’s second interception gave the Cowboys the ball in Miami territory with a 23-13 lead. Dallas faced a fourth-and-five and decided to go for it. Romo threw long to Owens, who was wide open for the touchdown.

Dallas possession, 1-10-MIA 40 (3:26): 24-M.Barber right tackle for 40 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

Miami cut the Dallas lead to 30-20 on a fluke touchdown pass from Trent Green to Derek Hagan. The Dolphins attempted an onside kick, but Henry was able to come down with it. On the next play, Barber found a huge hole in the right side of the line and put the game away with the touchdown.

The Good

Terrell Owens

Owens has made huge plays in both games. The two drops and two penalties were far less significant than the five receptions. That wasn’t the case last season.

Marion Barber

Barber breaks tackles that Julius Jones doesn’t.

Romo’s Feet

Romo outrushed Julius Jones (36 yards to 32). He found a way to break out of potential sacks, including an amazing play that ended in an incompletion. Jason Taylor appeared to have Romo contained, but Romo pulled a Barry Sanders-like move to get out of it (Romo’s pass to Owens fell incomplete). Amazing.

Anthony Henry

Henry has looked like a waste of money, but not today. He had two picks–and should have had a third– plus a recovery on an onside kick in the fourth quarter. Great game.

Nick Folk

Folk went 3-for-3, including a 47-yarder. Good job by the rookie.

Areas That Need Work

Penalties

Flozell Adams’ false start problems aren’t any better. And they have been old for a long time.

Receiver Cushions

Both Henry and Jacques Reeves seemed to give Dolphin receivers 10 to 15-yard cushions on every play. The result was great, though Chris Chambers finished with 109 yards on nine receptions. Other receivers could make Dallas pay.

Misc. Personnel Issues

The Cowboys used Oliver Hoyte on several plays when it seemed that Anthony Fasano would have been a better choice. Hoyte dropped a pass in the third quarter on a play that probably wouldn’t have gone far anyway.

I haven’t been on the Marion Barber bandwagon, but I’m seriously considering it. Julius Jones doesn’t break tackles and doesn’t hit holes the way that Barber does, and Barber was clearly more effective today.

Stay Tuned…

Monday (9/17): Instant Trivia: Cowboys vs. Giants
Tuesday (9/18): Answers to Questions Waiting for Answers
Wednesday (9/19): Stats, Line Betting, and Fantasy
Thursday (9/20) Questions Waiting for Answers
Friday (9/21): History and Trivia
Saturday (9/22): Preview of Sunday’s Game
Sunday (9/23): Dallas at Chicago, 7:15 p.m.

Preview: Cowboys vs. Dolphins

Dallas Cowboys Church Sign

Last week I appropriately used a Baptist church sign for the Cowboys-Giants preview. I hope that by using a Pentecostal Church sign that I do not offend my Baptist employer. Or that it turns out to be bad luck.

A few injury updates:

* Greg Ellis is out. The bursitis in his heel continues to act up. His injury situation really isn’t news, though.
* Terence Newman is a game-time decision.
* Terry Glenn elected to have arthroscopic knee surgery and could return in four to six weeks.

Predictions

Accuscore

Accuscore has predicted a Cowboys win in each of the first two games. This week, the site says that the Cowboys have a 56% chance of winning. Here is the graph:

Accuscore

Pigskin Pick’em

Dallas is a road favorite (3 1/2) vs. the spread on Pigskin Pick’em this week. Not only that, but 84% of the Pick’em players chose Dallas to cover the spread. Below is the graphic showing who picked whom:

pickem2.jpg

As for my picks, here they are:

Pigskin Pick’em

History Lesson: Super Bowl VI

Super Bowl VI

As the Cowboys prepare for the Miami Dolphins this week, now is as good of a time as any to relive moments from Super Bowl VI. Of course, I was eleven months old at the time, so “relive” may not be accurate, but at least I’ve seen the game in its entirety. I can’t produce that here, but you can see the player introductions here.

A few months ago, I posted the trivia questions below. I’ll give these a shot again:


Make your own Quiz!

And now for the rest:

Dallas 24, Miami 3

Date: January 16, 1972
Stadium: Tulane Stadium
City: New Orleans, Louisiana
MVP: Roger Staubach, Quarterback
Favorite: Cowboys by 6
Coin Toss: Jim Tunney
Referee: Jim Tunney
Attendance: 81,023
Network: CBS
Announcers: Ray Scott and Pat Summerall

Starting Lineups

Miami Position Dallas
OFFENSE
Paul Warfield WR Bob Hayes
Doug Crusan LT Tony Liscio
Bob Kuechenberg LG John Niland
Bob DeMarco C Dave Manders
Larry Little RG Blaine Nye
Norm Evans RT Rayfield Wright
Marv Fleming TE Mike Ditka
Howard Twilley WR Lance Alworth
Bob Griese QB Roger Staubach
Larry Csonka FB Walt Garrison
Jim Kiick RB Duane Thomas
DEFENSE
Jim Riley LE Larry Cole
Manny Fernandez LDT Jethro Pugh
Bob Heinz RDT Bob Lilly
Bill Stanfill RE George Andrie
Doug Swift LOLB Dave Edwards
Nick Buoniconti MLB Lee Roy Jordan
Mike Kolen ROLB Chuck Howley
Tim Foley LCB Herb Adderley
Curtis Johnson RCB Mel Renfro
Dick Anderson SS Cornell Green
Jake Scott FS Cliff Harris

Questions Waiting for Answers: Week 2

Dallas Cowboys News in Brief

A few news items before we get started with the questions for the week:

Tony Romo* Tony Romo was named as the NFC’s offensive player of the week for his performance vs. the Giants.
* Terry Glenn elected to have arthroscopic surgery on his knee instead of microfracture surgery. Here is more from Mick’s Shots:

That Terry Glenn opted to go the arthroscopic surgery route to remove torn articular cartilage from his right knee is not some elixir procedure. This gives him a chance to return this year, possibly in four to six weeks, but that is not guaranteed and certainly does not guarantee he will not require microfracture surgery either at the end of the season or at the end of his career. The scope removes the loose bodies in his knee but does not address the hole created by the torn cartilage, and further wear and tear in there will cause that opening to enlarge, the degeneration increasing the probability of an eventual painful bone on bone condition.

* Both Greg Ellis and Terence Newman returned to the practice field. From DallasCowboys.com:

Newman was a little more active than Ellis, as the 10th-year linebacker only participated in individual drills but at least had his pads on this second day of practice this week. Newman, who missed the first game of his career against the Giants this past Sunday, took part in some team drills and practiced with the first-team nickel defense.

As a result, Newman is more likely to participate in Sunday’s game at Miami than Ellis, and is being classified as a game-time decision by Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips. Phillips said he would like to see Ellis participate in team drills before considering playing him.

Questions Waiting for Answers

1. Will the Cowboys be able to use the running game effectively?

The Washington Redskins ran for 191 yards against Miami last week, averaging 4.7 yards per carry on 41 carries. This looks like a good week for our duo of Julius Jones and Marion Barber to shine.

2. Will Miami head coach and former San Diego offensive coodinator Cam Cameron find ways to take advantage of the injuries to the Cowboys’ defense?

Even with the injuries, the Dallas defense has more talent than Washington’s. And given the fact that the Dolphins had fewer than 200 yards passing and fewer than 100 yards rushing against the Redskins, I would think that the Dallas defense would rebound nicely.

3. Should every team’s receiving corps scare us?

Plaxico Burress looked all-world last Sunday, but I don’t see anyone on Miami’s team that will cause so many problems. That said, Chris Chambers had nearly 100 yards against Washington.

4. Can the Dallas defense keep Miami’s offense off the field?

Miami had four four-and-out drives last week out of a total of 11 drives in the game. With Dallas having so many injury (and now depth) problems, it would certainly be nice to keep the Cowboys’ offense on the field.

5. Will the Cowboys win?

Each week last year, I tried to give a prediction– and according to me, Dallas should have gone 14-2. I’ll avoid scores this year.

Yes, Dallas should win. The Cowboys have more talent, and the injuries on defense should not be a huge problem. The receiving corps looks to be in good shape, so the offense should continue to move the ball effectively.

Way Too Much Information Wednesday: Week 2

For lack of a better description, each Wednesday I will feature something known as Way Too Much Information Wednesday. If you are bit odd and like stats like I do, you’ll probably like this. Otherwise, I hope you like the reincarnation of Gnome:

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Witten’s 100-Yard Performance

Five tight ends in team history have had more than 100 yards receiving in a single game. For the first time since 2004, Jason Witten surpassed this mark in the Cowboys’ win over the Giants. Here is a complete list of those tight ends.

Date Player Yards Team Result Score
10/21/1962 Folkins, Lee 123 Pittsburgh Steelers W 42-27
11/10/1963 Folkins, Lee 112 San Francisco 49ers L 24-31
9/28/1975 Dupree, Billy Joe 100 St. Louis Cardinals W 37-31
9/19/1976 Dupree, Billy Joe 108 New Orleans Saints W 24-6
9/13/1982 Cosbie, Doug 102 Pittsburgh Steelers L 28-36
9/23/1984 Cosbie, Doug 103 Green Bay Packers W 20-6
9/15/1985 Cosbie, Doug 159 Detroit Lions L 21-26
11/28/1985 Cosbie, Doug 111 St. Louis Cardinals W 35-17
10/28/1990 Novacek, Jay 105 Philadelphia Eagles L 20-21
10/6/1991 Novacek, Jay 121 Green Bay Packers W 20-17
10/27/1991 Novacek, Jay 131 Detroit Lions L 10-34
9/12/1993 Novacek, Jay 106 Buffalo Bills L 10-13
10/24/2004 Witten, Jason 112 Green Bay Packers L 20-41
11/15/2004 Witten, Jason 133 Philadelphia Eagles L 21-49
9/9/2007 Witten, Jason 116 New York Giants W 45-35

Tony Romo’s 300-Yard Passing Performance

With his 345-yard performance against the Giants, Tony Romo now has four 300-yard games in less than 12 games. Here is an updated list of the total number of 300-yard games by Cowboys quarterbacks in history.

Aikman, Troy 13
White, Danny 10
Meredith, Don 7
Staubach, Roger 6
Pelleur, Steve 4
Romo, Tony 4
Bledsoe, Drew 3
Hogeboom, Gary 3
Testaverde, Vinny 3
Carter, Quincy 1
Garrett, Jason 1
Hutchinson, Chad 1
LeBaron, Eddie 1
Morton, Craig 1

Pigskin Pick’em: 7/16

I have played Pigskin Pick’em for about five years, and once again, I am not off to a great start. I play against the spread, which is more challenging. The Colts’ win in the opener

helped me out, but I gave too much credit to Philadelphia, St. Louis, Chicago, and Baltimore.

Here’s a breakdown, with my picks in bold.

My Correct Picks (7)

Indianapolis (-6 1/2) 41, New Orleans 10
Pittsburgh (-3 1/2) 34, Cleveland 7
New England (-5 1/2) 38, N.Y. Jets 14
Miami (+3 1/2) 13, Washington 16
Detroit (+2 1/2) 36, Oakland 21
Seattle (-6 1/2) 20, Tampa Bay 6
Dallas (-3 1/2) 45, N.Y. Giants 35

Note: I noted last week that three of the last four wins by the Cowboys over the Giants were by three points. If not for Sam Hurd’s touchdown, Dallas could very well have won 38-35. Fortunately it wasn’t the case.

Killed by the Spread (2)

In two games, the team that a picked to win actually won but did not cover the spread.

Denver (-3 1/2) 15, Buffalo 14
San Francisco (-3 1/2) 20, Arizona 17

Just Blew It Altogether (7)

I would have missed most of the picks below even if I played non-spread.

Philadelphia (-2 1/2) 13, Green Bay 16
Houston (-1 1/2) 20, Kansas City 3
Jacksonville (-5 1/2) 10, Tennesee 13
Minnesota (-2 1/2) 24, Atlanta 3
St. Louis (-1 1/2) 13, Carolina 27
San Diego (-5 1/2) 14, Chicago 3
Cincinnati (-3 1/2) 27, Baltimore 20

Fantasy Football: Thurman’s Thieves (1-0)

I can honestly say that I have never been nervous about fantasy football, until last week. Despite the fact that Drew Brees’ only gave me 1.6 points with his dismal performance against Indianapolis, Thurman’s Thieves jumped out to a pretty significant lead.

Then came Monday. I have RB Rudi Johnson and CB Leon Hall for Cincinnati, while my opponent has WR Chad Johnson. My lead started to slip away, as neither Rudi nor Hall could give me the type of points that Chad Johnson put up that game (15.7 for Chad, a combined 12.6 for Rudi and Hall).

I had no players for the Arizona/San Francisco game, while my opponent has 49er CB Walt Harris. What should happen in the first quarter? Harris had a pick, and the lead dwindled quickly. I finished with 82.6 points, and with Harris’ eight points, my lead was suddently down to less than a point. By some miracle, though, I was able to hold on to an 82.6 to 82.4 win.

In keeping with the “Way Too Much Information” theme, here is my starting lineup:

QB Drew Brees (1.6 points)
RB Rudi Johnson (7.6 points)
WR Marty Booker (3.2 points)
WR Marques Colston (4.7 points)
WR Randy Moss (26.3 points)
TE Daniel Graham (2.4 points)
LB Jonathan Vilma (4.3 points)
LB Shaun Phillips (4 points)
LB/DE DeMarcus Ware (2 points)
DL Mark Anderson (7 points)
CB Leon Hall (5 points)
DB Sean Taylor (3.5 points)
K Adam Vinatieri (11 points).

We’ve Got Answers, and A Lot of Points

Giving up 35 points wasn’t what most of us had in mind for the opener, but the win was still a good step for this team. The answers below are probably more optimistic than they ought to be, but we haven’t had many opening day wins in the past few years.

(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.

The pressure wasn’t consistent, but the Cowboys started getting to Manning in the second half. Jay Ratliff, who will start now that Jason Ferguson is out for the year, had a sack, and Anthony Spencer injured Manning.

(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.

Jones was not bad, but Barber breaks those tackles and gives that extra effort that makes you want to see more of him. Here is a post from Dallas Cowboys 24/7 on this debate.

(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).

I am not sure what the cause was, but the Giants left the middle of the field open almost all night. Jason Witten looked all-world– but all-alone might be more like it.

Dallas Cowboys

(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?

Romo’s ill-advised interception to Gibril Wilson could have been more costly, but Romo’s plusses far outweigh his minuses.

(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.

Owens did not have any drops, and his touchdowns came at critical points.

(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?

None of these references turned out to be problematic in the first game. The biggest problem was the continued subpar play of Williams, who took himself out of a few plays, misses tackles when failing to wrap, and… then there’s the coverage.

(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.

(a) Sam Hurd and Patrick Crayton are quality players. Glenn would be a great addition, but Dallas has more talent than we probably knew.

(b) Anthony Henry is a waste of money at this point. We can only hope that Newman would have shut down Plaxico Burress.

(c) I am not convinced that Ellis is going to contribute much, but any help to our pass rush is a good thing.

According to the Dallas Morning News, Ellis and Newman may return to practice this week. This could help, but I am not sure this is the answer defensively.

That said, though, Dallas found a way to beat at division foe without these three, which gives us plenty of room for optimism.

Instant Trivia: Cowboys vs. Giants

Here are ten questions about the Cowboys’ 45-35 win over the Giants on Sunday.
Make your own Quiz!

I thought that perhaps we would have heard the last of “The Botch” after the win, but… of course not. Here is Tony Kornheiser leading off his commentary by mentioning that play. Again.

————

You’ve probably heard that Dallas lost Jason Ferguson for the year. Mickey Spagnola provides some perspective, however:

The Cowboys will receive no injury sympathy around the league for losing nose tackle Jason Ferguson for the season in the season opener. In the opening week, the Bears lost two starters for the season, safety Mike Brown and defensive tackle Dusty Dvoracek, who was starting for the suspended and then released Tank Johnson. The Redskins lost offensive tackle Jon Jansen for the season. St. Louis lost starting tackle Orlando Pace for the season. Miami lost starting safety Yeremiah Bell for the season. And look at the Giants, with Osi Umenyiora, Brandon Jacobs and Eli Manning all expected to miss time.

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.

————

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)