Cowboys deal champions opening loss

Posted: September 06, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Whether it was opening-game jitters or simply rust, it took nearly two quarters for the Dallas Cowboys offense to get going. The second half was a different story.

Scoring on their first three possessions after halftime, the Cowboys opened the NFL season by defeating the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, 24-17, Wednesday night at MetLife Stadium.

The Cowboys have begun this season in much better fashion then they ended the last one. Dallas concluded the 2011 campaign with a 31-14 loss at MetLife Stadium that handed the NFC East title to the Giants.

The Giants won't panic. They also began last season with a loss, a 28-14 defeat at Washington.

Dallas began its offensive ascent late in the first half Wednesday when Kevin Ogletree caught a 10-yard scoring pass from Tony Romo to give the Cowboys a 7-3 lead with 1 minute, 1 second left.

Ogletree, who had 15 receptions last season, none for touchdowns, added a 40-yard touchdown reception on the Cowboys' first possession of the second half, extending their lead to 14-3. A wide receiver who hails from Queens, he finished with eight catches for 114 yards.

"I was not the primary receiver," Ogletree said of his 40-yard connection with Romo. "Execution was key to that play and the key tonight."

The Giants got back in the game, making it 14-10, on Ahmad Bradshaw's 10-yard touchdown run with 5:11 left in the third quarter.

Eli Manning, known for his ability to throw in tight quarters, did exactly that by finding Domenik Hixon for 39 yards the play before Bradshaw scored.

Dan Bailey kicked a 33-yard field goal on the Cowboys' next possession, a score that was set up by a spectacular, 48-yard run by DeMarco Murray, who broke several tackles, reversed fields and sped down to the Giants' 25-yard line.

Murray ran for 131 yards on 20 carries.

The Cowboys kept moving. Romo found Miles Austin for a 34-yard touchdown reception, increasing the Dallas lead to 24-10 with 5:57 left in the game.

New York got to within 24-17 on a 9-yard touchdown reception by former Cowboy Martellus Bennett with 2:36 remaining.

Romo then made one of the biggest plays of the game. Facing a third and 12 from the Dallas 24, he found Ogletree for 15 yards and a first down at the two-minute warning with the Giants out of timeouts.

Romo was 22 of 29 for 307 yards, with three touchdowns and an interception. Manning completed 21 of 32 passes for 213 yards and a touchdown. He was not intercepted.

The Cowboys played most of the game without starting center Phil Costa, a graduate of Holy Cross High in Delran. Costa left the game early in the first quarter with a back injury.

Dallas received an emotional boost when tight end Jason Witten was in the starting lineup.

Witten suffered a lacerated spleen during a preseason game against Oakland on Aug. 13.

The Giants scored first, settling for a 22-yard Lawrence Tynes field goal with 9:10 left in the second quarter. The field goal was set up by a 51-yard interception return by linebacker Michael Boley to the Dallas 2-yard-line.

Contact Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225, or @sjnard on Twitter.


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