There is no better way to start the Jason-Garrett era than by beating the Giants in the Meadowlands 33-20.
I wrote the above lede about the Sunday night rivalry game right after cornerback Bryan McCann returned a 101-yard interception to stop New York’s time-sucking drive, and to put Dallas ahead by two scores. At that moment, the Cowboys were on pace to upset the Giants and to start their new season. Even New York knew that it was in trouble, at the beginning of the second half they tried to shut the power and call it quits early. (Just kidding, the power accidentally went out temporarily).
The Giants drew first blood with a 43-yard field goal in the first quarter. But quarterback Jon Kitna led Dallas down the field and capped off the drive with a touchdown pass to receiver Dez Bryant. The circus-like catch was initially ruled incomplete, but after Bryant ran to the sideline in disagreement, Garrett threw his first-ever challenge flag and had the call reversed.
The Giants had a few drives in the first half that were polished with potential. But the best they could do was a field goal.
As the second half elapsed, the lights in the far end zone went out. Even that couldn’t stop a momentum driven Dallas squad as running back Felix Jones housed a 71-yard pass from Kitna. It took him just a few agile moves and he was off to the races.
The Cowboys showed a lot of improvement under Garrett. Most significantly was the change in play calling. After much criticism, Garrett used his running backs. Dallas had103 yards on the ground.
The defense also showed improvement. The secondary stayed home and played very conservatively. That’s not to say the Giants couldn’t throw the ball. They had 373 passing yards, so by no means was Dallas flawless. But the secondary has two interceptions and made tackles when they had too, something that the Cowboy’s defense has been struggling with this season.
Dallas sat comfortable in the second half. But the Giants showed sparks of momentum that were quite frightening at times. New York cut the lead after a touchdown pass from quarterback Ely Manning to receiver Mario Manningham but then Dallas scored again. After that, Giants tight end Kevin Boss scored after the coverage collapsed. But the Cowboys answered that too with a three-and-out.
Even after Kitna threw an interception in the fourth quarter, and it looked like the Giants were driving down the field, Manning made a bad play on a fumbled snap and the Cowboys regained possession again. It just seemed as if the Cowboys played with a new mentality — that the season starts now.
Some notable offensive contributions came from Bryant who had 104 receiving yards with a touchdown and Jones who notched 85 yards and a touchdown of his own.