The Dallas Cowboys absolutely shocked the world with a 24-17 win over the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants on Wednesday night in prime time. Dallas got over its stage fright and found a new defensive identity while beating the team that’s owned the Cowboys the past three years. However, Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan isn’t talking about the first performance by his unit that deserves some bragging.
“We’re just getting ready for Seattle,” Ryan said. “That’s all you’re getting. That’s it. That’s all I’m thinking about.”
The Cowboys are on the road again in Week 2 to face the Seattle Seahawks and Ryan isn’t even taking advantage of head coach Jason Garrett‘s 24-hour victory enjoyment rule – he’s taking care of business. But perhaps that’s the best approach for Dallas, a team that has lacked mental toughness in recent years.
That’s been Ryan’s philosophy since the disappointing end to the 2011 season and it’s apparently a good one. The Cowboys sacked Giants quarterback Eli Manning, a two-time Super Bowl MVP, three times and held him to just 213 yards and one touchdown pass. Compared to 746 yards and five scores by Manning in two games against Dallas last year, Ryan has done his job through one week of this season. A truckload of drops by the Giants’ receivers helped, but hey, that’s football.
For the most part, the Cowboys were also stifling against the run. Giants running backs Ahmad Bradshaw and David Wilson combined for 82 yards and one score. Despite the touchdown in the third quarter and one long run in the fourth quarter, New York had nothing going on the ground.
All in all, Ryan’s unit executed his bend-but-don’t-break scheme superbly. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo threw an interception directly after the offense turned the ball over on downs, but Ryan’s defense rose to the occasion when the Giants started the drive on the Dallas 1-yard line. Bradshaw was stuffed for losses on first and second down and Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick prevented Victor Cruz from scoring on a third-down pass play. The Giants settled for a field goal.
Right after the third down play, Ryan pumped his fist on the sideline and bellowed satisfying profanity. Sure, Romo had a great game other than the interception and two delay of game penalties, but Dallas’ defense stopping the Giants on consecutive drives that followed Cowboys turnovers. That’s new for the folks in Big D.
When asked about the fact the Cowboys held the Giants to just 17 points after giving up 68 total points to New York in two games last year, Dallas linebacker DeMarcus Ware gave the perfect answer for a leader on a team still looking to improve:
“That lets us know what we can be as a defense,” Ware said. “Now it’s like, can we be consistent each week?”