ARLINGTON (105.3 The Fan/AP) — Jason Witten scored the only touchdown while breaking the franchise record for yards receiving and the Dallas defense shackled a New York offense missing Odell Beckham Jr. in the Cowboys’ 19-3 season-opening victory over the Giants on Sunday night.
Ezekiel Elliott had a rugged 104 yards rushing and another 36 receiving two days after a judge halted his six-game suspension over a domestic violence case, although last year’s NFL rushing leader had already been cleared to play the opener.
Dak Prescott was turnover-free while throwing for 268 yards as the Cowboys dominated the NFC East rival that swept them during a 13-3 season that topped the NFC and was fueled by the sensational rookie years for the quarterback-running back duo. Dan Bailey kicked four field goals.
Eli Manning didn’t have Beckham in his 200th straight start after his dynamic top target sprained his ankle in a preseason game. The Giants were outgained in the first half 265-49 while falling behind 16-0.
Manning was 28 of 37 for 211 yards with an interception and connected with new receiver Brandon Marshall just once, late on a desperation drive with the outcome already settled.
Witten scored the Cowboys’ first touchdown on a 12-yard catch and finished with seven catches for 59, breaking Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin’s club record of 11,904 yards. Witten, already the franchise leader in catches, now has 1,096 receptions for 11,947 yards.
A 35-year-old in his 15th season, Witten is the only tight end other than Tony Gonzalez with at least 1,000 catches and 10,000 yards.
The Giants had a nearly 10-minute drive to start the second half but settled for Aldrick Rosas’ 25-yard field goal after a second-down sack of Manning, Dallas’ third of the game and the first of Charles Tapper’s career.
Anthony Brown all but sealed the win for the Cowboys when he was the first to get his hands on a throw from Manning and won a tug-of-war with Roger Lewis Jr. for the interception midway through the fourth quarter.
Elliott had to work for his yards after the crowd cheered loudly when he was introduced and kept up the “Zeke” calls while he made his trademark feed-me gesture after first downs. His biggest play was a 30-yard catch-and-run, easily the most open field he saw against one of the league’s best run defenses a year ago.
“We have a special team. Last year I think our season got cut a little short, but we got a lot of the same guys back” said Elliott.
DID YOU SEE THAT?
Dallas receiver Cole Beasley made a crazy catch in the fourth quarter to keep a drive alive. He got his hand on a wobbly ball as he was approaching the sideline and reached behind his head with his left hand, trapping the ball against his shoulder pads and helmet.
STILL NO RUN GAME
Just like a year ago when the Giants finished 30th in rushing offense, they couldn’t help Manning when he was under more pressure than he’s been used to in recent years against the Cowboys. Paul Perkins had 16 yards on seven carries as the Giants were outgained 129-35 on the ground.
“We felt like we had a lot to prove coming into the game with so many new guys” said SS Jeff Heath. “We had a good year last year. It’s really hard to have repeat performances like that, especially against good teams with really good players.”
Cowboys: CB Orlando Scandrick left in the second quarter with a hand injury and didn’t return.
“He’s got a fracture there” said Cowboys owner/GM Jerry Jones. “They (team doctors) are going to do a little work on it Monday. It looked to me like he’s going to be able to play with it.”
Giants: Home against Detroit (1-0) on Monday night next week.
Cowboys: At Denver on Sunday.
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