The New York Giants didn’t fare too well in their season-opener at Dallas on Sunday night. Six turnovers, including two that were returned for Cowboys’ touchdowns, resulted in a 36-31 loss for “Big Blue” at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX.
New York looked mostly out of synch and out of rhythm for portions of the contest. In fact the Giants on their first possession of the game proved to be a sign of what was to come. On their first play from scrimmage, New York quarterback Eli Manning dropped back to throw a screen pass to running back Davis Wilson, but the ball landed right in the hands of Dallas defensive end DeMarcus Ware. The Giants defense, however, held firm in keeping the Cowboys out of the end zone as the home team settled for a short field goal and a 3-0 advantage.
New York then committed their second turnover of the game, this time on a Wilson fumble. After moving the ball with efficiency down to the Cowboys 8 yard line, Wilson lost the handle and Dallas recovered. It was the first of two fumbles by the Giants’ running back, who was later removed in the second half because of his struggles.
The Giants finally got on the scoreboard late in the first quarter, fueled by a Ryan Mundy interception of Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, who nearly turned the play into a “pick six” before being stopped at the one yard line. However, New York was unable to punch it in the end zone and had to settle for a Josh Brown 20-yard field goal to even the score at 3-3.
Romo, who has been questioned for his inability to lead the Cowboys to a Super Bowl championship and signed a hefty contract extension during the offseason, hooked up with tight end Jason Whitten for a 15-yard score late in the half and a 13-3 advantage.
“Big Blue” woke up moments later, as Manning hooked up with Victor Cruz for one of his four touchdown passes when he found the star received on a slant play that resulted in a highlight-making 70-yard score and a 13-10 deficit at the half.
Cowboys’ fans received a scare late in the half when Romo took a hard hit from several Giants’ defenders while attempting a pass. As backup quarterback Kyle Orton began warming up, team officials confirmed that Romo only had the wind knocked out of him and remained in the game.
Remarkably, despite the Giants’ six turnovers, New York still had a chance to take the lead late in the fourth quarter. Trailing 30-24 with less than two minutes left and with Manning poised to lead the Giants on another memorable comeback, the two-time Super Bowl MVP was picked off by Brandon Carr on a screen pass. Carr returned the ball 49 yards for the score to ice the game and help the Cowboys prevail over their NFC East rivals for the first time in five tries at their new digs.
The six turnovers were the most for the Giants since 1987, when they had seven against New Orleans. Conversely, it was the most Dallas has forced since 2003.
“We turned the ball over five times and muffed a punt,” Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. “Six times we gave the ball away tonight. Six times - that’s my fault. I’m totally, totally disappointed and embarrassed by that kind of football. That’s sloppy, sloppy football. We have control over ourselves. We have to recognize situations that are going to lead to those kinds of things and then you can’t turn the ball over.”
Manning completed 27 passes for 450 yards to go along with three interceptions. Romo had a solid game for Dallas, completing 36 passes for 263 yards and two TD’s. Cruz caught five balls for 118 yards and three scores, becoming the first Giant with a “hat trick” since Wilson did so against New Orleans in 2012.
“We played hard,” Coughlin said. “We believe in each other. We fight for each other. There’s no finger pointing. It’s a good team. We have good leadership. The captains are good. They are saying the right things in there.”
The Giants will have to regroup quickly as Eli’s brother Peyton and the high-scoring Denver Broncos invade MetLife Stadium next Sunday night on NBC. Check out game highlights here.