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Almost exactly seven years ago, the Dallas Cowboys beat the Minnesota Vikings to improve to 6-1. No Dallas team since then has recorded that record.
After that game seven years ago, I wrote:
The Cowboys did everything they could to give Minnesota a chance to win today, but the Dallas efforts weren’t enough. All joking aside, today’s heroes included one likely source– Marion Barber– and a couple of the least likely sources, including Chris Canty and Patrick Watkins.
In beating the Giants on Sunday in 2014, Dallas did what it could to give New York the edge. However, at least one unlikely source came through to help Dallas to a 31-21 win.
With the game tied at 7 in the second quarter, Dez Bryant fell down on a route. Tony Romo’s pass fell into the hands of Prince Amukamara, who returned the ball to the Dallas 27. One play later, a touchdown pass from Eli Manning to Daniel Fell gave the Giants a 14-7 lead.
But Dallas marched right back to score a game-tying touchdown with just over two minutes remaining in the half. Once again, Romo’s target on the game-tying touchdown was Terrance Williams, who now has six scores on the year.
But Williams was not the unlikely source. That would be tight end Gavin Escobar. After catching his first touchdown against the Seahawks last week, Escobar grabbed two TD receptions against the Giants. His second touchdown of the day —a great grab up the seam in the middle of the field—gave Dallas a 21-14 lead.
The Cowboys took advantage of a New York fumble in the fourth quarter and extended their lead to 28-14.
Of course, Manning has a way of bringing the Giants from behind against Dallas, and the Cowboys did little to prevent New York from cutting the Dallas lead to 28-21.
But as the Cowboys keep proving, this is just a different year. The Cowboys responded to the Giant touchdown by driving 49 yards in 10 plays to set up Dan Bailey’s field goal, which secured the win for the Cowboys.
DeMarco Murray became the first player in NFL history to rush for at least 100 yards in each of his first seven games of the season. The only player who had rushed for 100 yards in six games to open a season was the great Jim Brown.
With the Eagles on a bye this week, Dallas has a half-game lead in the NFC East.
Here’s a quote about one member of the secondary.
He’ll be an outstanding player at safety, whether he makes his move there this year or next season.
Trivia question: Who was the player?
This may help—
On the same day Tom Landry made this statement, the Cowboys announced they had traded Craig Morton to the New York Giants in exchange for New York’s number one draft pick.
The Giants finished 2-12 that season, meaning the Cowboys held the second overall pick the follow season.
The Cowboys selection? Hall-of-Famer Randy White.
It would seem that an opening-game win for an NFL team would be significant.
For the Dallas Cowboys, a fan could point to a huge 45-35 win over the New York Giants in 2007 as a catalyst for a 13-3 season.
Conversely, a fan could look at the team’s disappointing loss to the Redskins to open the 2010 season as a major factor in the team’s 6-10 record.
A opening-game win, though, is hardly a predictor. For instance, the 2003 Cowboys opened with a loss to the Falcons, but the Cowboys wound making the playoffs with a 10-6 mark.
One year later, the Cowboys opened with a loss to the Vikings, but the Cowboys reversed their record from a year before by going 6-10.
In 2011, the Cowboys lost a frustrating game in New York, falling to the Jets in a 27-24 loss. The team finished at 8-8.
In 2012, the Cowboys won on the same field, beating the Giants, 24-17. The team finished 8-8.
So how much does the opening-game win mean? Consider this:
The Cowboys won five of their last ten opening games dating back to 2003 (not including the recent win over the Giants).
In the five seasons when the Cowboys have gone 0-1, the team has had a combined record of 39-41 with two playoff appearances.
By comparison, when the team has gone 1-0, the Cowboys have a combined record of 50-30 with two playoff appearances.
Incidentally, the last time the Cowboys went 2-0 was 2008, when the team finished poorly and wound up missing the playoffs with a 9-7 record.
- The Cowboys now lead the overall series 59-42-1.
- The Giants’ four-game winning streak at Cowboys Stadium was the longest for New York at Dallas. The Giants had won three straight at Texas Stadium between 1988 and 1990.
- This was the first time the Cowboys had ever played in a game with a final score of 36-31.
- The game marked the seventh time in the series where the Cowboys scored 36 or more points. The most points scored by the Cowboys against the Giants was 52 in 1966.
- The Cowboys trailed in every game in 2012. The Cowboys did not trail at all on Sunday night.
- The Cowboys recorded 6 or more turnovers in 23 previous games.
- The Giants have turned the ball over six or more times against the Cowboys in 4 previous games.
- The most turnovers committed by the Giants against the Cowboys was 7 in 1961. Hall of Famer Y.A. Tittle threw four interceptions on October 15, 1961, but the Giants still won 31-10 at the Cotton Bowl.
- Sunday night’s game marked the 7th time where the Cowboys have given up 400 or more passing yards.
- The Giants have thrown for 400 or more yards against the Cowboys three times: twice by Eli Manning (2011 and 2013) and once by Phil Simms (1985).