I’m just going to be all over the place here, but I have a lot of initial thoughts on tonight’s game. I’ll take a closer look at the game at some point, but here are my quick-twitch observations:
• First off… Congrats, Cowboys fans. Bigtime win.
• All offseason, I heard from Cowboys fans that their improved secondary would have a significant affect on the pass rush. Personally, I’m of the belief that a great pass rush does wonders for the secondary, but rarely the other way around. Well… it sure looked a lot to me like the secondary did a great job blanketing receivers downfield, causing Eli Manning to hold onto the ball longer than he normally would have.
• Tony Romo was excellent. The drive where he hit Dez Bryant on the deep ball down the sideline was a gorgeous pass. I didn’t think Corey Webster’s coverage was all that bad on that play. Romo simply put the ball where it had to be. That’s the one play that really stood out.
• A key player for the Cowboys this season will be Barry Church. So far so good for him. He did an excellent job reading Eli Manning’s eyes and almost jumped a short route for a pick 6, but was just a hair late. I still have to go back and watch the tape a little more closely, but from what I saw of him, I saw a confident player.
• I shouldn’t have to mention Kevin Ogletree. We all saw it. Impressive performance. The Cowboys neded a 3rd receiver to step up. Ogletree did exactly that this week. His confidence will be bubbling heading into Week 2. To be determined if that’s a good thing or not, but obviously, this was an enormous game for him.
• Miles Austin was invisible for a half, and then he made one of his patented “jump in between two defenders, make the catch, and score” plays. It looked a lot like the catch he made last year against the 49ers, minus the crazy-impressive job of keeping his knee off the ground while stumbling into the end zone. This one was a walk in, but the way he leaped for the catch looked very familiar.
• DeMarco Murray: Wow. Beast. He was looking for contact. Ran very hard. At the end of the game, he lowered his head into Chase Blackburn’s chest, and fell forward for an extra 2 yards, leading to a very manageable 3rd and 1. Blackburn had to leave the field. Then, on the next play, he got the first down, and once he knew he had the yardage he needed, he slid, staying in bounds so the clock would keep running. There wound up being a penalty on the play, but Murray’s head was in the right place. And then of course there was his highlight run. He ran into Mathias Kiwanuka (who in fairness was already being blocked by Doug Free, I believe), and put Kiwi squarely on his backside. Then he made a move, bounced it, and once he had some breathing room immediate got north-south. Impressive game.
Much more after the jump (and it’s not all Cowboys)…
• Both of these offensives lines are not good:
- Cowboys: Tyron Smith had 3 false starts and whiffed on a few occasions trying to block Jason Pierre-Paul. Mackenzy Bernadeau whiffed on Rocky Bernard (not really a good pass rusher) and had an illegal hands to the face penalty. Doug Free had a false start and a terrible hold on a run play that would have ended the game. Jason Witten (OL extended) had a false start and a hold. That needs to get cleaned up. I didn’t notice anything bad from Nate Livings or Ryan Cook, so a temporary gold star for them until I take a longer look at the tape.
- Giants: The Giants’ run game is still really bad. The stat sheet will say that Ahmad Bradshaw ran for 4.6 yards per carry, but that was largely on the strength of a 33 yard run on a draw play. The offensive line simply cannot get any kind of push whatsoever, and can’t open up holes. Pass pro wasn’t horrible, but wasn’t exactly good either.
• David Wilson is not off to a good start attaining his goals for the season:
- “Five yards per carry”
- “Score at least 10 touchdowns”
- “No sacks” allowed on “my behalf”
“A play of at least 20 yards” in every game
- “At least six 100-yard games”
• Victor Cruz had a brutally bad game:
- 3 drops. Bad ones.
- False start penalty.
- Block in back penalty (although in fairnss to Victor, that was a ticky-tack call).
- He appeared to miss a block on a screen pass in which the Giants had the perfect call for a Cowboys blitz. I’ll be taking a second look at that one.
• Hakeem Nicks didn’t look right. I highly doubt he’s fully healed (not that anyone ever made that claim).
• Morris Claiborne does not seem like he’s all that enthusiastic of a tackler. I saw glimpses of that in the preseason (against the Chargers, I believe). But on one drive, Claiborne dove at the ankles of lead blocker Henry Hynoski. That’s BS effort. Hynoski made him pay anyway. When Claiborne dove at Hynoski, the Hynoceros simply put his shoulder into Claiborne’s back and drove him into the ground. Then, later in the drive, Claiborne got stiff-armed with ease by Ahmad Bradshaw on his TD run. It can’t be that easy. However, Claiborne survived his first game in the bigs without giving up any big plays in the passing game. I’m sure the Cowboys will take it.
• Justin Tryon got abused. The look on Tom Coughlin’s face when his assistant informed him that Michael Coe would not return to the game said it all. Coughlin wanted no part of Tryon seeing the field.
• Rough night by Corey Webster too. Big surprise there. I figured the Cowboys would just stay away from him. Not so. They attacked Webster and did so successfully.
• Some good things from Martellus Bennett tonight. He used his size to bring in the TD pass from Eli Manning, and made a few short catches earlier in the game. He did have a drop in which it looked to me like he didn’t know where he was on the field. He did a little stutter step trying to get his feet in bounds on a key 3rd down, which slowed him up, causing him to miss the pass. He didn’t need to do that – had plenty of room. But again, I thought he showed some positive things.
• Felix Jones… Where are you?
• Terrible call (or rather non-call) by the officials on Orlando Scandrick’s hold on Victor Cruz in the end zone. Clear as day. Otherwise, I thought the replacement refs did a good job.
OK, that outta do it for the night. I’ll have more in the morning.