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Cowboys Defense Wins With Turnovers While Offense Plays It Safe Against Giants

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by Shawn S. Lealos

The Dallas Cowboys opened the 2013 NFL season with a crazy 36-31 win over the New York Giants. The entire first half of the game was sloppy, with numerous turnovers on both sides of the ball, although neither team could really capitalize on them. It was a poorly played game, until Dallas started to finally buckle down and move the ball.

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 8:  Jayron Hosley #28 of the New York Giants and Dwayne Harris #17 of the Dallas Cowboys go after a fumble at AT&T Stadium on September 8, 2013 in Arlington, Texas.  The Cowboys defeated the Giants 31-36.

(credit: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

The New York Giants suffered more than Dallas, with Eli Manning throwing three interceptions in the game and David Wilson fumbling the ball twice. Manning almost redeemed himself at the end of the game, but Wilson probably cost himself the starting running back job with his poor play and lackluster handling of the ball.

On the other side of the field, Dallas saw Tony Romo play a solid game, with Miles Austin, Jason Witten and DeMarco Murray all highlights in the game for the Cowboys. Their defense also looked good but not great, as they finished with five turnovers while giving up 450 passing yards to Eli Manning. Here are the grades for this week’s Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants game.

Offense: C-

The Dallas Cowboys offensive line is still not up to par, and that caused Tony Romo to actually fall to injury at one point in the game. After getting the wind knocked out of him in the second quarter, it looked like the line began to tire and give up more hits as the game wore on. There wasn’t a sack surrendered until the fourth quarter, but that is when Romo and the Cowboys needed them to step up.

Dez Bryant was bottled up the entire game and Romo had to look to his other receivers. Miles Austin was the most targeted player in the offense, with 10 receptions for 72 yards, followed by Jason Witten, who had eight catches for 70 yards and two touchdowns. Disappointing in the offense was rookie Terrance Williams, who ran some poor routes and dropped a pass.

The running game was solid, with DeMarco Murray playing the role of a workhorse, running for 86 yards in the game while catching eight balls for 39 yards.

Defense: B-

The only reason Dallas won this game was because of the Cowboys defense. Sure, they gave up a lot of points and yards, but honestly, they played strong the entire game with the exception of the three Victor Cruz touchdown receptions. They kept the pressure on Eli Manning and stayed in his face from start to finish. Manning did throw for over 400 yards, but that wasn’t the story here.

This defense could have easily received a D- score, but Manning threw three interceptions and the Cowboys defense recovered two fumbles in the game. The last interception by Brandon Carr, with under two minutes left in the fourth quarter and returned for a touchdown, was the final nail in the coffin for the game. Carr, Will Allen and DeMarcus Ware all had interceptions. Dallas also finished the game with three sacks.

Quarterback: B-

Tony Romo had a solid, but unspectacular game against the Giants. He threw for 263 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, which was caused by a receiver running a bad route. He also worked the new offense, where he called audibles at the line of scrimmage, and he did a good job reading the defenses. He wasn’t Peyton Manning, but he did a good job when it came to recognizing blitz packages. However, he was knocked down, sacked or pressured almost 15 times and he needs to do a better job of getting rid of the ball and limiting hits. That is more about the offensive line, but Romo isn’t completely innocent.

Special teams: A

The Dallas Cowboys special teams were solid in the game. Dan Bailey was a perfect 3-for-3 in the field goal game, while hitting all three PATs as well.

Most kicks were into the end zone, not allowing any returns, and the punting was solid. Chris Jones had six punts in the game, averaging 45.8 yards per punt, putting two inside the 20. Dallas also recovered another fumble on special teams when DeVonte Holloman recovered a fumble when the ball bounced off Giants’ blocker Trumaine McBride.

Dwayne Harris was the punt returner, but only brought back two for a 9.5 yard average, while all four kickoffs were downed in the end zone. The game ended with the onside kick of the Giants going the way of Dallas, so using a baseball analogy, Sean Lee picked up the save on special teams.

For more news and updates, visit Cowboys Central.

Shawn S. Lealos is a freelance writer who graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2000 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He writes for a variety of national publications and has over 15 years of sports journalism experience. Follow Shawn on Twitter @sslealos. Examiner.com.

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