The city of Dallas and Cowboys fans everywhere can rejoice, as their beloved Cowboys dramatically defeated the New York Giants in the season’s first game of Sunday Night Football. The city of New York, of course, will be questioning the football IQ of the entire “Big Blue” Giants squad all week, after an embarrassing display of clock management at the end of the game.
The Giants possessed a three point lead late in the fourth quarter but had the chance to cash in on a costly penalty committed by Jeremy Mincey. After a pass to their star wide receiver, Odell Beckham Jr., the Giants were sitting pretty at their 4 yard line. They ran the ball on back to back plays, trying to safely run down the clock, but to no avail. Reports came out shortly after the game that Eli Manning relayed a message to the Giants’ running back, Rashad Jennings, suggesting that the running back actually try not to score in an effort to wind down the clock. On third down, the Giants elected to throw the ball, resulting in an incompletion and a crucial stoppage of time.
With only a measly field goal to show for their work, the clock showed 1:37, and the Giants’ lead was still less than a touchdown. Ninety seconds later, the Cowboys led the Giants 27-26, and the game was all but wrapped up. Tony Romo, despite the injury of his favorite target, Dez Bryant, was able to march down the field and hit tight end Jason Witten over the middle for a game-sealing score, giving the Cowboys quarterback the 24th game winning drive of his NFL career.
On Monday, I was able to coax a few words from the University of Dallas’ very own English professor, Dr. Kevin Saylor, an avid Cowboys fan. He was more than happy to share his analysis of the game and to respond to a few questions I had about the team’s performance.
“Quite the game, wasn’t it,” Saylor said. “I thought the Cowboys were, by far, the better team on the field last night, but they had a -3 turnover differential.”
Saylor was even kind enough to provide some statistics to support his claim, noting that “over the past few years, only 4 percent of games are won by a team with a -3 differential.”
The turnovers, however, may not have been the scariest part of the game, which was highlighted by the injury of all-star receiver Dez Bryant, who is expected to miss at least the next four weeks.
“Losing Dez changes the dynamic because no other receiver demands double coverage,” Saylor remarked. “But we saw last night that the Cowboys have a lot of weapons: [Terrance] Williams is a big, fast receiver, [Cole] Beasely is tough to cover and [Jason] Witten is still [Tony] Romo’s security blanket.”
Despite the obvious disappointment of the Bryant injury, the Cowboys expect to have a very deep roster this year, something that may come in handy as the season wears on and the injuries begin to accumulate. While the first game rarely tells the tale of an entire season, Sunday’s test against their division rival proved that the Cowboys have the depth and determination to stay focused throughout challenging games. If the team can manage to keep up this trend throughout the season, Cowboys fans such as Dr. Saylor will be grinning come playoff time in January.