Where does one even begin to react to what went down in the Dallas Cowboys bite your nails, jump up and down, scream at the TV 27-26 victory over the New York Giants on the opening Sunday Night football game of the season?
Before we get to the craziness of the first-half, we have to start with arguably the most bizarre first half of football I’ve ever witnessed. Just take a moment to digest these stats: The Cowboys had the ball for 22:06 of the 30 first-half minutes, while the Giants had the ball for just 7:54. Dallas accumulated 202 yards of total offense in the half, and the Giants had just 86 yards.
When you see a half play out like that, it would be more than reasonable to assume the Cowboys would be winning by more than two scores.
Instead, the Giants went into halftime up 13-6 thanks to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie returning a Cole Beasley fumble 57-yards for a touchdown with just over a minute to play, and on the first play of the ensuing drive, Giants linebacker Uani Unga intercepting Tony Romo after his pass deflected off Jason Witten’s hands. That led to a Josh Brown field goal and a seven-point lead heading into the break.
Things continued going the Giants way as the game moved into the fourth quarter. After a Galvin Escobar touchdown cut the Giants lead to 16-13, the Cowboys got the ball back down three with a chance to take the lead.
Instead, Romo was picked off by Trumaine McBride who returned the ball to the Cowboys one-yard line and Rashad Jennings capped off the interception by running for a one-yard touchdown to put the Giants up ten.
Dallas quickly responded with a six-play, 76-yard touchdown drive, but the Giants got the ball back and had a golden opportunity to put the game on ice. For 11 plays and 79 yards, the Giants were doing everything right.
Then on a 3rd down and 1 from the Dallas one-yard line, Eli Manning rolled to his right and inexplicably threw the ball away.
The play call was fine. If the Giants scored a touchdown in that spot, the game is over and Dallas has no shot.
I have no problem with Eli looking to find his best weapon Odell Beckham Jr. in the end-zone, but he wasn’t open, and neither was anyone else, so Eli threw the ball away instead of simply falling down and letting an additional 40 seconds come off the clock. This was an inexcusable, unforgivable, rookie mistake by a 12-year NFL veteran.
Instead of getting the ball back with under 50 seconds to play and no timeouts, Romo and the Cowboys got it back with 1:27 left, which is an eternity for an NFL team to rush down the field and score.
In the blink of an eye, the Cowboys had the ball at the Giants 11-yard line when Romo found Jason Witten for a touchdown with seven seconds left, and Dan Bailey hit the now not as automatic extra-point to give Dallas the 27-26 win.
So the Cowboys were lucky to escape with a win in a game they dominated, yet should have lost, and the Giants lost a game the Cowboys put on a silver platter for them and wouldn’t take it. The Cowboys said ‘Here, you take this win’, and the Giants weren’t having any part of it. Just another day in Jerry World.
In the end though, there are still 15 more games for these teams to play and to say this is a season altering win for the Cowboys, or loss for the Giants is having a classic week one overreaction.
By the time these teams meet again on October 25th, the circumstances surrounding these teams could be astronomically different.