This article practically writes itself. O-line, turnovers, and penalties… Oh my! But there is much much more to the game on which to focus.
First, the Giants were in some serious turmoil to start the season. Tom Coughlin had 1st degree burns on his posterior (from his seat being inordinately warm)… and they turned it around. The Cowboys can follow suit and turn around their season despite a horrendous start.
Protection: Don’t pay attention to whether Romo is sacked; he has a great ability to move within the pocket and avoid sacks. However, he lacks the ability to throw the ball away while under pressure. Keep an eye on how often Romo has to move about, and how often he is hit. Kosier is out for this game and Holland has played admirably when called upon. Romo will only be as good as the offensive line will allow him to be.
Penalties: It is not how many penalties as much as when and how damaging. Giving the team a 1st and 10 when they would have failed to convert a 3rd down is every bit as damaging as a turnover. Having a 50+ yard touchdown or gain negated because of illegal motion, holding, etc. can be detrimental to a team’s psyche. Every play builds upon itself and momentum can build.
Turnovers: Earlier in the week Romo put the onus upon himself to play better. It’s laughable considering he has been playing at such a high level. Is there untapped potential he can tap into? Romo has 7 interceptions on the season, but they are excusable considering the context and circumstances of the play. I believe Romo was trying to inspire his teammates to raise their level of play.
Pride: Does this Cowboys team have any pride? Since losing to the Giants in January 2008, we have only beaten them once. In the rematch the following year we lost (yes Romo was hurt but where was the anger from the rest of the team). They lost the Cowboys Stadium opener last year. Everyone was so upset because Eli Manning scribbled on the wall. Upset is an understatement. Fans were seething, players looked forward to the rematch. And we lost the game.
Where is the emotion. You can say they are a reflection of their coach, but that is just lazy. Your boss may try and push you in a direction, but can never never shape you fully.
The Giants are mouthy. They can’t or won’t stop bad mouthing the Cowboys. They are verbal bullies, and if the Cowboys have any pride whatsoever, they will put this bully onto the ground.