That’s right, you read the headline; now put that Am-Ex away and cancel that Tony Romo jersey order. Let’s take a minute and collect our heads. Yes, football is back and it feels like second Christmas and the Dallas Cowboys look like they’re going straight to the Super Bowl, but listen, we’ve been here before; it just doesn’t feel like it.
Dr. Jekyll, Meet Mr. Romo
This isn’t going to be a another Romo bashing. I have no stake in the NFC East or any individual performer therein, but I know my football brethren can be very knee-jerk sometimes. Yes, that includes you, 9,437 people currently leering at their waiver wire screen as the page refreshes, hoping no one beats you to Kevin “I’m Jerry Rice this week” Ogletree.
Calm down, Kevin, the rest of this article is going to be all rainbows and sunshine for you. I just had to get my one dig in.
Back to Romo though. He looked phenomenal and really took a step towards silencing his critics. Going into MetLife Stadium on opening night and turning in a 76% completion percentage, 307 yards, and 3 TDs can be labeled as nothing but defying expectation with a calm, collected demeanor.
However, Cowboys fans should also remember that Romo got off to a fast start last year too. Through his first 2 games in 2011, he recorded an average quarterback rating of 109.2, which was enough to earn Dallas an 8-8 record, hold the postseason. Conversely, the New York Giants are used to losing, especially in championship seasons. During their Super Bowl runs in 2007 and 2011, the G-Men averaged 9.5 wins and the last time they lost to the Cowboys in their season opener; yep, it was 2007: the year they won it all against the demigod-like New England Patriots. Granted, Romo did post a 129.5 QB rating tonight so I’m not making the fairest of comparisons, but my point is that the regular season is a marathon, not a sprint.
Dallas can have Romo and Ogletree; how about former Oklahoma Sooner – and unquestionable starter – DeMarco Murray. It wasn’t just the yardage or the big plays, it was the fact that Murray went out there ready to hit someone. He probably blasted more Cowboys than Giants. Then again, that truck he laid on Giants LB Mathias Kiwanuka before rattling off a 48-yard run was nothing short of “cray cray”.
If Dallas head coach, Jason Garrett hasn’t gotten the memo by now, allow me to send it with fervor: give Murray the damn ball! He gets better with more carries. When Murray carries the ball 20 times or more, his yards-per-carry average is 6.12, almost three yards higher than his average when he carries less than 20 times (3.76). Also, the Cowboys are undefeated when Murray hits that magic number. That’s right, 6-and-mother-flipping-0! And they say the Cowboys go as Romo goes . . .
The Giving Ogletree
Pretty clever for half-past-midnight, I think. Disregard the dig on Ogletree earlier because he put in work tonight. With his 8 receptions and 2 TDs, he amassed 54% of his total catch production and doubled his scoring output from 2011. Also, his 14.3 yards-per-catch average was higher than any of his three previous seasons in Dallas. Watch out, Miles Austin.
Penalties and Miscues
Someone should tell the Dallas offensive line that you don’t get extra points for excessive penalties. The 70′s are over and we lost, gentlemen (Just kidding, I wasn’t born in the 70′s. Ugh, can you imagine? Kidding some more.). The Cowboys were penalized 13 times for 86 yards and nearly screwed themselves out of the winning touchdown on a drive where Austin had to bail out the offense with an uncharacteristically awesome 34-yard TD grab. I’m calling it after game one: this could be Dallas’ ultimate undoing if they don’t reach the postseason.
Speaking of uncharacteristic, how about Giants WR Victor Cruz? Three drops tonight after never dropping more than one pass in any of his previous two seasons. Many jests have been made at Cruz’s expense tonight for that reason, but who can top NFL Network’s Rich Eisen when he suggested over Twitter that Cruz must’ve had too much salsa on his fingers?
Is anyone funnier than Rich Eisen? Rich Eisen certainly doesn’t think so.
A Hokie Performance
The lights were a little too bright for first-round selection and No. 2 Giants running back, David Wilson. With no injury to blame it on, Wilson carried the ball twice for a pretty terrible 4 yards and a fumble. I expect these are just first game jitters, but man, Wilson needed to show a little more than that.
The Giant Killer
Cowboys LB Sean Lee must really take this rivalry to heart. In his last three games against Big Blue, Lee has averaged 10.7 tackles per game. However, during his last five games against other opponents, he’s only averaged 5 tackles. He’s like a reverse bull, going crazy when he sees blue.
Eli Manning . . .
was Eli Manning. He looks to be in mid-season form, showing off some finesse throws, pinpoint accuracy, and turning in a generally efficient outing. No Super Bowl hangover here.
Martellus Bennett . . .
clearly didn’t grow up a Cowboys fan. With his touchdown catch tonight, he officially has more TD grabs as a Giant than in his last 3 seasons as a Cowboy.
Okay, this was fun. We should do this again sometime. Say, this Sunday perhaps?