Eli Manning and his New York Giants were undefeated in Cowboys Stadium. They are now winless in AT&T Stadium. Same place. Different results. Maybe a new streak has begun.
Also, the Cowboys are now 7-0 against the Giants in season openers.
But to the current situation…
The Cowboys defeated the Giants in week one. They did so on the strength of six turnovers. This from a defense that a year and a Rob Ryan departure ago forced only 16 turnovers in an entire season. Welcome to Dallas, Mr. Kiffin!
But hold on!
A team takes the ball away from its opponent six times and there ought to be a blowout afoot.
That just was not the case in Dallas on Sunday night. Despite taking the rock away from the generous Giants on the first three possessions of the game, the Cowboys only managed to get six points out of them. They had to get three more turnovers and two defensive touchdowns in order to secure a very thin 36-31 victory.
The defense looked like it was on a mission. The line in particular was sensational, harassing Eli all night. (Hello, George Selvie!) Still, Manning threw for 450 yards and four touchdowns and came this close to keeping his record in Jerry’s still shiny, but no longer new digs unblemished. The Cowboys’ defense was opportunistic, but never dominant. Manning and the ever-explosive, Salsa-dancing Victor Cruz exploited them again and again.
On offense, the Cowboys’ running game continued to struggle. As a team, they averaged under four yards per carry. But on the bright side, the really bright side, Romo was only nearly killed once and only sacked twice. Pass protection was pretty good, when you consider they threw the ball 49 times.
So, what do we make of this game?
First, you rejoice in the win. You take it. Ugly or not. Doesn’t matter. This is the NFL. There are no gimmes here. This is the two-time Super Bowl champion Eli Manning Giants. No pushover here. A win is a win is a win and a divion win is even better.
Second, you hope the Cowboys defensive backs grow into this Tampa 2 scheme, or these narrow wins may become big losses.
Third, you like the way the defense swarms to and pokes at, grabs for, rips on the football.
Fourth, you think you see progress in the pass protection from the offensive line and hope it continues.
Fifth, you understand that if the Cowboys are going to make a deep playoff run, the ground game is going to have to show improvement.
Sixth, you look at the 49ers, the Packers, the Seahawks, and maybe the Saints and understand that winning the NFC is going to take a lot better effort from a lot better team than took the field on Sunday. You also understand that, as the season progresses and the new schemes and new regime have their impact, this just might be a lot better team, ready to give a giant effort.
Seventh, you smile contentedly because there is hope for your currently undefeated Cowboys.