Daily Archives: September 6th, 2012

INJURY UPDATES: Felix Jones | Phil Costa | Jason Witten

IRVING, Texas — Dallas Cowboys running back Felix Jones suffered a rib injury during Wednesday night’s victory over the New York Giants.

Jones missed a few snaps but returned after going to the locker room to get examined. He didn’t have any carries for just the third time in his career when active.

On kick returns, Jones finished with 61 yards on three returns. His longest was for 25 yards.

Cowboys officials don’t believe Jones’ rib injury is serious, considering he returned to the game. But Jones, who was targeted twice on passing plays, didn’t contribute any yards to the offense.

The Cowboys have instead focused on starting running back DeMarco Murray, who rushed for 131 yards on 20 carries. When Murray left the game to catch a breath, Jones wasn’t inserted. He was in the locker room getting treatment, which enabled Phillip Tanner to get the call. But a timeout pushed him off the field and Murray returned to the game.

RELATED: Phil Costa has MRI, but spot not open yet

IRVING, TexasPhil Costa had an MRI to determine the severity of the back injury that tightened up after three snaps in Wednesday’s win against the New York Giants, but Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett was not ready to say the center position is open for competition.

“I don’t want to get into that right now,” Garrett said. “We want Costa to get back. Costa’s been our starting center for a reason. We like him a lot. But at the same time, we want to make sure he’s healthy. I thought he did a really good job working to get back and it just shows you the kind of mental toughness that he has. He was determined to play, and his back really wasn’t quite right. We really found out about it on the first play. He tried to gut it out on plays two and three, but then we had to put Ryan in on the second series.”

Costa missed the first three preseason games because of a low back strain but was able to get 12 snaps of work in the Miami preseason finale. The Cowboys acquired Cook in a trade from the Dolphins after the game, but he had just a handful of walkthrough snaps with Tony Romo before being forced on the field.

“One of the reasons we liked him is he’s a veteran player,” Garrett said. “He’s been a center in this league. He’s also played guard and tackle and we felt like he could go into a game with short notice. He picked things up fairly well last week in the practice reps that he did get.”

The Cowboys had five false-start and two delay-of-game penalties against the Giants that could partially be attributed to Cook’s unfamiliarity with Romo and the offense.

“Obviously communication is really important for those guys up front, but he’s a smart guy,” Garrett said. “I think he understood the concepts right from the start. The biggest thing was the communication, using our language, but I think he studied hard at it. They communicated well together. There weren’t a lot of busts that way in the ballgame.”

RELATED: Jason Witten OK the day after

IRVING, TexasJason Witten reported no problems Thursday from playing against the New York Giants 23 days after lacerating his spleen in the preseason opener at Oakland.

The day after getting hurt against the Raiders, Witten went to the hospital in Oxnard, Calif., where the laceration was diagnosed.

Witten played in 49 snaps and caught two passes for 10 yards after receiving medical clearance Tuesday. With 10 days to get ready for Seattle, the Cowboys’ hope is that Witten will be able to return to a normal practice schedule after he was limited in three days of practice leading up to the New York game.

“He seemed good after the game,” Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “In terms of using him, we wanted to make sure we didn’t overuse him. We felt like communication was really, really important. He was going to tell us how he was feeling. We were going to check in with him as much as we could. The thing that we wanted to make sure that we did, though, is let him play with the normal playing rhythm that he typically plays with. He’s been starting for a long, long time. So we wanted to make sure we weren’t spot playing him, so he’s in for one play; he’s out for three plays; he’s in again. He wouldn’t really get into any kind of rhythm that he’s used to playing with.”

Statistically, the game did not compare to some of the best in Witten’s career, but Garrett said this might be the most memorable.

“He’s been as good a player as I’ve been around in my career,” Garrett said. “He’s just outstanding. He’s so productive and he does everything the right way as far as his preparation and performance. Last night’s game is going to be one that I remember more than any other game that he’s played when I’ve been around him just for all the different circumstances and his approach to it and his determination and a willingness to be a part of it. We just need to adjust as coaches whether he’s available or not available and make sure we have enough stuff in the plan to just go down the next road really kind of seamlessly.”

RIVAL NEWSPAPER COVERS: New York papers blast NY Giants for loss to Dallas Cowboys

New York Giants fans leaving the stadium in defeat - The Boys Are Back blog

Highlights of what the New York media and national media said after the Cowboys’ 24-17 win over the Giants:

Sports cover of the New York Post - The Boys Are Back blog

Steve Serby (NY Post): When your elite quarterback is outplayed by Jerry Jones’ quarterback, you find yourself answering too many questions about a Super Bowl hangover when fans exiting MetLife Stadium were more ticked off about the Replacement Giants than the replacement refs.

Manning kept trying to win his chess game with Ryan, and found himself checkmated much too often for an elite quarterback to be checkmated.

On this opening night, the lasting image: Romo takes a knee.

“He’s a tremendous competitor, and a good quarterback and he made some great throws buying time, running around … he played well enough to win the game and made some big-time throws,” Manning said.

And kicked the Giants’ butts.

Sports cover of the New York Daily News - The Boys Are Back blog

Gary Myers (NY Daily News): Tom Coughlin introduced his battle cry of “Build The Bridge,” during training camp, to build from the Super Bowl and carry the Giants right over into this season.

It was evident Wednesday night in the Giants’ season-opening loss to the Cowboys that, like most construction projects in New York, this one is way behind schedule. The lack of intensity the Giants showed against Dallas proved that this team needs an immediate attitude adjustment.

The Giants won the Super Bowl by getting their hands dirty; the way they played in the 24-17 loss to the Cowboys made it seem as if they still had their glitzy Super Bowl rings on their fingers.

If there was ever a case of a team playing with a Super Bowl hangover, this was it. By the time they decided to play and close to within seven points with 2:36 left, it turned out to be too late. The defense allowed Tony Romo to convert a crucial third-and-10 to Kevin Ogletree — he also scored two touchdowns — on the last play before the two-minute warning. Eli Manning never got the ball back in his hands to perform any last-minute magic.

Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, right, talks to New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning - The Boys Are Back blog

Don Banks, SI.com: Make no mistake, this first night of the 2012 NFL season was a huge litmus test for the hotly debated Dallas quarterback. He needed to confront the recent demons that have haunted him in this stadium and against these Giants, and he needed to prove that his third trip here in the span of a mere 17 regular-season games would be the charm. All that hung in the balance was the Cowboys’ sense of self-respect in an NFC East rivalry that had grown lopsided of late, and perhaps Romo finally taking a vital step in erasing his reputation for not being able to win the biggest games, or get it done in crunch time.

VIDEO: Did Dallas Cowboys coordinator Rob Ryan swear on national TV?

Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is making headlines for his alleged swearing during the Cowboys win over the Giants.

You can watch the video above and judge for yourself (while the video lasts on YouTube).

Lip sync swearing isn’t a crime, though NBA Kobe Bryant was fined $100,000 for what it calls "inexcusable" homophobic language used against a referee. We only saw a lip syncing on TV.

I’M GOING TO JERRYLAND: Cost for four to attend a Dallas Cowboys game ranks highest in NFL

daniel snyder looking up to jerry jones dallas cowboys

A Sept. 2012 team marketing report from fancostexperience.com indicates that the Dallas Cowboys have the NFL’s highest fan cost index to attend a game.

The report describes fan cost index as follows: The Fan Cost Index™ comprises the prices of four (4) average-price tickets, two (2) small draft beers, four (4) small soft drinks, four (4) regular-size hot dogs, parking for one (1) car, two (2) game programs and two (2) least-expensive, adult-size adjustable caps.

The Cowboys’ FCI is $634.78. The New York Jets’ FCI is $617.25. Only four teams – the Cowboys, Jets, Bears and Patriots – have FCIs of more than $600.

Those same four teams, plus the New York Giants, are the only franchises with an average ticket price of more than $100.

The reason the Cowboys – and not the Jets – have the highest FCI is parking. The report lists parking at Cowboys Stadium at $75. Parking for Jets’ games is listed at $25. The report lists no other NFL team with parking that costs as much as $50 (Chicago Bears, $49).

The NFL average FCI is $443.93. The Cowboys’ prices for beer, soft drinks and hot dogs are pretty much in line with the other franchises.

Here are the FCIs for the Cowboys’ NFC East rivals: Giants, $592.24; Eagles, Redskins, $461.53 and Eagles, $397.48.

Philadelphia is one of only 11 teams with FCIs that come in below $400.

The lowest FCI? That would be the Jacksonville Jaguars at $342.70.

You get what you pay for I guess.

RIVAL HEADLINES: New York Times – ANALYSIS: Cowboys’ Romo Wins Signature Victory

Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant caught four passes for 85 yards - The Boys Are Back blog

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — There is often something cartoonish about the Dallas Cowboys, whether it is their shocking decision to allow Jason Witten and his tender spleen to play in the season opener Wednesday night, or the giggle-worthy television shot of someone else apparently cleaning Jerry Jones’s eyeglasses before delicately handing them back to him.

This summer, the former Giants receiver Amani Toomer added to the comedy when he said that Tony Romo was a better quarterback than Eli Manning. That, of course, is ridiculous, considering that Manning is a large reason that the Cowboys and Romo had to endure a brief celebration of the Giants’ latest Super Bowl victory before the first game of the season began. But by the time it was over, and the Cowboys had won, 24-17, Toomer at least had a little more ammunition for his argument, and it was time to retire one joke that had attached itself to the Cowboys during Romo’s career.

Now entering his ninth season, Romo really can win the big game after all. He has just one playoff victory in his career. But no opening game could have meant more for a team than this one did for the Cowboys, and Romo played what might have been the game of his career, to perhaps finally silence the whispers that he wilts at the biggest moment, that the Cowboys’ failures have been mostly his.

They were not Wednesday night. Romo moved away from the Giants’ defensive pressure and, with the exception of one awful interception early in the second quarter, he was nearly flawless, completing 76 percent of his passes. With three dazzling touchdown passes and a handful of other spectacular throws, including a laser to Dez Bryant into tight coverage down the right sideline for 38 yards on third-and-one late in the second quarter, Romo led the Cowboys to becoming the first team to beat a defending Super Bowl champion since the N.F.L. began staging a kickoff spectacular in 2004.

The Cowboys lost twice to the Giants last season, including in the season finale, when the Giants clinched the playoff spot that propelled them to the Super Bowl. Considering the weight Jones, the Cowboys’ owner, had placed on beating the Giants, this might count as Dallas’s biggest victory since Romo’s lone playoff win in 2009.

In the locker room afterward, where Jones held court, he proclaimed it “a very significant win for our franchise.” Then, he added: “I’m not so sure this was as big a deal to the Giants as it was to us.”

For the Cowboys to string a few more of these together to overtake the Giants in the N.F.C. East this season, they will rely on Romo more than ever. They struggled to run in the first half — the Giants struggled the entire night — and Romo will be responsible for managing a gaggle of potentially high-maintenance and injury-prone receivers (Bryant and Miles Austin, who caught one of Romo’s touchdown passes) and inexperienced projects (Kevin Ogletree, the Queens product who had caught 25 passes, none for touchdowns, in his previous three seasons, before catching two touchdown passes Wednesday night).

The pass is the way teams win in the N.F.L. now, with wide-open offenses and multiple receivers sets. And if Romo is not yet in the most elite class of quarterbacks — Manning is — he is certainly in the top 10. This victory affirms that he still has the potential to outduel even the very best of them, especially against a Giants secondary that, as it did early last season, looked injury-ravaged and shaky. Even if Romo’s most important security and surest weapon, Witten, acted largely as a well-padded decoy.

On Wednesday, Romo was good enough to erase the past failures of the defense. They had become famous for blowing fourth-quarter leads, but with the Cowboys clinging to a touchdown margin and the offensive line just called for holding, Romo kept his defense off the field, completing a quick pass under pressure on third-and-12 to Ogletree at the two-minute warning. With that, the Giants’ fans headed for the exits, and Romo cleared some psychic space between himself and his critics.

After the game, Romo spoke on the field to NBC about knowing that he had to disregard the interception “whether you’re playing in the parking lot or in Giants Stadium against the world champions.”

After the first touchdown, he said, he wanted to have a killer instinct, because he expected the Giants and Manning to come back. They almost did. But in the biggest first game the Cowboys have ever played, it was Romo’s reputation that had the bigger revival.

JUDY BATTISTA | New York Times

RIVAL HEADLINES: New York Times – After pregame pomp, a pratfall

The Giants’ Eli Manning being sacked by the Cowboys in the fourth quarter - The Boys Are Back blog

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Giants players and coaches were adamant this past week that they had moved on. The Super Bowl victory was months ago, they said, and last season was in the past. Coach Tom Coughlin even invoked his pithy phrase-of-the-moment, “Build the Bridge,” more often than usual to remind everyone that the goal now is to link the 2011 title season to this one.

One can only imagine this was not exactly what he had in mind. After an odd pregame tribute to the Giants’ previous title teams that featured loud music, an inordinate amount of smoke and a ceremony that seemed to last barely more than a minute, the current version of the team put on a show that was eerily similar to the worst parts of last season.

A stilted running game. A porous offensive line. A battered secondary. Giants fans can surely be forgiven for finding it all a little bit too familiar. The only difference, it turned out, was that this time the Giants could not beat the Dallas Cowboys. And so nine months after knocking off the Cowboys twice on their way to a surprise Super Bowl championship, the Giants began their title defense with a dispiriting 24-17 loss to their rivals at MetLife Stadium.

“It takes a bite out of humble pie,” Coughlin said.

The game was supposed to be a coronation. Defending champions had been 8-0 in these special weeknight season openers, and the Giants had won seven of the last nine games between the teams. A stadium-record crowd of 82,287 showed up to celebrate former champions like Ottis Anderson, Phil Simms and Michael Strahan — all of whom appeared, albeit briefly, during the pregame pomp — but also to rejoice in the start of the chase for a repeat.

Instead, the fans left frustrated. Dallas quarterback Tony Romo passed for 307 yards and 3 touchdowns, including a sparkling hookup with Miles Austin late in the fourth quarter that essentially sealed the victory. Romo connected with Kevin Ogletree, a Queens native, for Dallas’s other two touchdowns on passes of 10 and 40 yards.

Continue reading →

RIVAL HEADLINES: New York Times – Manning fails to solve Cowboys’ new look defense

Eli Manning being sacked by DeMarcus Ware in the second quarter - The Boys Are Back blog

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Eli Manning got a different look when he surveyed the Dallas defense in the season opener. For the most part, he did not like what he saw in a 24-17 loss to the Cowboys on Wednesday night.

Jerry Jones, the Cowboys’ owner, used the off-season to bolster a secondary that Manning had exploited in leading his team to victories in six of the previous eight meetings between the teams. Jones signed cornerback Brandon Carr to a five-year contract worth $50 million. Jones was so determined to pair him with the highly rated Morris Claiborne that the Cowboys traded up eight positions to draft Claiborne sixth over all.

Manning completed 51 of 80 passes for 746 yards and 5 touchdowns with 1 interception when the Giants downed their N.F.C. East rival twice in the final four weeks in 2011, including a 400-yard effort when the Giants prevailed, 31-14, to wrest the division from the Cowboys in the regular-season finale.

This time, Manning, the two-time Super Bowl most valuable player, found limited opportunities. He finished 21 of 32 for 213 yards and 1 touchdown, on a 9-yard strike to tight end Martellus Bennett with 2 minutes 36 seconds left. He went 8 of 14 for 83 yards in the first half, and the Giants trailed, 7-3, at halftime.

Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, Manning’s top passing targets, also are accustomed to rousing performances against Dallas. Cruz turned six catches into a career-high 178 yards and danced the salsa after his touchdown grab in last year’s clincher.

Carr vowed after joining his new team that there would be no fancy stepping. For one game, at least, he backed up his braggadocio. Cruz totaled 6 receptions for 58 yards. Nicks, who made 8 catches for 163 yards when the visiting Giants outscored Dallas, 37-34, in Week 13, was held to 4 receptions and 38 yards.

Nicks appeared to be limited by more than the Cowboys. He continues to recover from a broken bone in his right foot. The injury kept him from preseason action until he participated in two series in the final tune-up for the regular season. Soreness in his foot also cost him practice time in the days before the opener, and the Giants’ offense was unusually quiet against Dallas.

Courtesy: TOM PEDULLA | New York Times

COWBOYS-GIANTS VIDEO RECAP: Cherish the Dallas Cowboys win on The Boys Are Back blog

As a courtesy, The Boys Are Back blog wants to share the video highlights and special interviews associated with last nights Dallas Cowboys victory over the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants. When you click on each link, the video should open in a separate window. Enjoy!

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Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants Highlights (Courtesy: NBC)

Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo found WR Kevin Ogletree for 114 yards and 2 TD’s as the Cowboys took down the Giants in the first game of the 2012 season, 24-17.



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Dallas Cowboys Today Postgame Report (Courtesy DC.com)

The Dallas Cowboys crew recaps the season opener win against the New York Giants.




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Dallas Cowboys Postgame Press Conference

Coach Jason Garrett and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo speak after the New York Giants game.




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Jason Garrett’s Postgame Locker room Speech with Players

Join Mickey Spagnola as he listens in to Jason Garrett’s postgame speech after Wednesday nights victory over the NY Giants




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VW Quick Snap – Cowboys vs. Giants (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!)

Presented by Volkswagen. Experience the sights and sounds of the Cowboys victory over the Giants in their season opener. If you only watch one video, watch this one! Brad Sham, the Voice of the Dallas Cowboys, captures moments unlike anyone in sports. Check it out!


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Talkin’ Cowboys: Game Recap (Duration 57:43 – Surf and Listen)

Join Derek, Nick, Josh, and Blair as they breakdown last nights thrilling victory against the Giants.




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Tony Romo Postgame (In-depth; duration 9:01)

Tony Romo addresses the media after the Dallas Cowboys beat the New York Giants in NFL season opener.




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Cowboys Break: A Sign Of Things To Come? (Duration 58:40)

It’s Glory Hole Thursday! haha The Break takes a look at the Dallas Cowboys victory over the New York Giants and if the result could possibly carry over to the rest of the season.



BONUS VIDEOS: Know The Enemy – Jason Pierre-Paul and Victor Cruz

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Know The Enemy – New York Giants Jason Pierre-Paul

In the second portion of this weeks "Know The Enemy", Bryan Broaddus takes a look at the Giants most powerful weapon on defense

Posted: Sep 5, 2012 (posted before the game)



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Know The Enemy: Victor Cruz

In the first portion of this weeks "Know The Enemy", Bryan Broaddus takes a look at one of the Giants most powerful weapons on offense

Posted Sep 4, 2012 (posted day before the game)



INSPIRED BY TENACITY: Win over Giants provides ‘Boys a measure of redemption, confidence

VIDEO - Dallas Cowboys Owner - General Manager Jerry Jones press conference - The Boys Are Back blog

Jerry Jones: Very Meaningful To Our Season (Click HERE to watch video)

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones speaks about Jason Witten, the New York Giants, and what the victory meant for the team.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.Wednesday night was the first game of the NFL season, but for the Dallas Cowboys it was a second chance.

The 24-17 win didn’t make up for 2011’s Week 17 loss to the same Giants, which ended the Cowboys’ season, or the Week 14 debacle versus New York at home, or even last year’s season opener at the Meadowlands against the Jets. But it was an opportunity to prove to themselves they could win in such circumstances. Ultimately, they solved a problem that plagued them last year, holding a lead in the final minutes.

At long last, this is a new year.

“It’s fresh on our memory,” owner Jerry Jones said of last season’s loss at New York that knocked the Cowboys out of playoff contention. “The areas that they, in addition to Philadelphia exposed for us, in our secondary, our coverage, our interior of our offensive line, we certainly went to that area and tried to address them. We had everything here, a test, for everything we had done (in the offseason).”

Now alone for three and a half days with the best record in football, the Dallas Cowboys can savor their victory over the NY Giants, a group that has seemed to have their number over the last half decade. The Cowboys become the only NFL team to have ever won a game on a Wednesday, and the first team to beat the defending Super Bowl winners in the league’s Kickoff Game, which for eight years has been held before opening Sunday as a showcase for the champions.

“We talk a lot about demeanor,” head coach Jason Garrett said. “You play the world champs at their place on opening night in the NFL season, there are going to be some things that go well for you, but there’s going to be some adversity you’re going to have to deal with, too … They didn’t blink when things didn’t go well for us, and when things did go well for us, we just kept going, knowing that team was going to come back.”

The Cowboys’ heart was apparent all night, beginning with Jason Witten’s fight to get back from an internal injury in time to play in the game, to Kevin Ogletree stepping up as a solid No. 3 receiver. There was heart in DeMarco Murray’s return for a big game against the team that ended his rookie season early, in the defense playing without one of its leaders, four-time Pro Bowl nose tackle Jay Ratliff and on the remade offensive line, which suffered an injury to Phil Costa mid-game and struggled with penalties, but kept making the blocks they had to make to allow for the plays that won the game.

“To come out here and overcome mistake after mistake, against a team that you can’t make mistakes with, that’s a character builder,” Jones said. “It will help us have a better season to have this win.”

The offense struggled for most of the first half, but took a 7-3 lead on a 10-yard Tony Romo pass to Ogletree with just over a minute to play in the second quarter. Romo found Ogletree again for a 40-yard score early in the third, starting to take advantage of a New York secondary that was ravaged by injury. Romo finished 22-of-29 for 307 yards and three scores, the final one coming to Miles Austin, back from a preseason-long hamstring injury, to put the Cowboys up by two touchdowns with just under six minutes to play.

Just as they had when facing a two-score deficit late in last year’s first meeting, New York answered back quickly, Eli Manning driving for a touchdown to former Cowboys tight end Martellus Bennett that put pressure on the Cowboys’ offense to convert a first down or give Manning a shot at tying the game.

This time the Cowboys moved the sticks, overcoming their 13th penalty of the game with a slant to Ogletree, giving him eight catches for 114 yards on the night.

“Certain things were different,” Romo said of this season opener, as opposed to other losses, including Week 1 of last year, when he had crucial mistakes in a collapse against the Jets. “We executed on offense and defense when we needed to, and put them in a hole.”

The Cowboys now have extra time to relax and heal up injuries to several of their key veterans before traveling to Seattle for Week 2. The first thing, though, is to revel in a fine start to 2012.

“This bunch persevered,” Jones said. “It was a very significant win for our franchise.”

RELATED: Jerry Jones says he’s never selling the Dallas Cowboys

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Cowboys are the first American sports franchise to be appraised at more than $2 billion. Forbes Magazine priced the Cowboys at $2.1 billion, 14 percent higher than the previous valuation it gave America’s Team.

Only English soccer club Manchester United, listed at $2.24 billion, is worth more.

But don’t think Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is planning to sell his cash cow now or ever.

“I have always thought that it was tribute to the Cowboys and our fans and the visibility,” Jones said after Dallas’ 24-17 victory over the New York Giants. “I know it doesn’t make one more first down for you. It is really I think a plus for the franchise to be thought of that highly. We all know that no one ever knows until you see something sold with the market and I’m fortunate to say that won’t ever be the case with me or the family, so we’ll never know what it’s worth.”

The Cowboys, the most valuable NFL franchise for six consecutive years, continue to be one of the most popular brands in sports despite the fact they haven’t won a Super Bowl since the 1995 season. Jones has created a marketing monster with his team. And on a day when the Cowboys won the season opener, their status as an elite franchise was re-affirmed when Forbes said it was worth approximately $1 billion more than the average NFL team, which is valued at $1.11 billion.

Things are looking up for Jones and the ‘Boys.

THE HEAT OF THE BATTLE: Key game changing plays that lead to Dallas victory over NY Giants

Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray (29), led by Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88), rushes for 48 yards - The Boys Are Back blog

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Dallas Cowboys had plenty of highlights in their 24-17 win over the Giants Wednesday night at MetLife Stadium. But like always, there are some hidden plays that will get overlooked, but yet played a big part in the final outcome.

Here is a handful of plays that changed this game.

1. Lee’s Force – The Giants were threatening to score in the first quarter and had moved the ball to the Cowboys’ 29. But Sean Lee darted through the blockers and smashed Giants rookie David Wilson, jarring the ball loose for a fumble, which was recovered by Barry Church. That likely saved three points for a field goal, and possibly more.

2. Tackle’s Tackle – Tyron Smith’s debut at left tackle won’t go down as one of his best games. There were plenty of rough moments for him, especially from a penalty standpoint. But one of his penalties gave the Cowboys four points. After Romo’s interception to Michael Boley, it looked like the Giants linebacker was headed for six. That’s until Smith stuck his left arm out and tackled him, getting a personal foul horse collar penalty in the process. It put the ball on the Cowboys’ 2, but the defense stiffened and forced a field goal for a 3-0 lead.

3. Third-and-1 Pass – The Cowboys had trouble running the ball early in the game and facing a third-and-1 from their own 47, they opted to take it to the air. Romo hit Dez Bryant on a deep ball down the right side line for 38 yards. It set up the first score of the game just two plays later.

4. Murray Keeps Going – On a second-and-3 play midway through the third quarter, it appeared DeMarco Murray was headed for a three-yard loss. Instead, he managed to not only sneak away, but dart down the sideline for a 48-yard run. It’s hard to think the longest play of the game would be forgotten, but it only led to a field goal. Still, after the Giants had scored to cut the lead to 14-10, a big run like that changed the momentum back toward the Cowboys.

5. Hatcher Avenges Penalty – With the Cowboys up 17-10, it appeared the defense was getting off the field on a third-down stop, but Jason Hatcher was flagged for a personal foul penalty, hitting Eli Manning in the head and late. It kept the Giants on the field, but three plays later, Hatcher sacked Manning to give the ball back to the Cowboys early in the fourth.

Honorable Mentions:

– A five-yard offside penalty on the Giants gave Cowboys a first down early in the fourth quarter, setting up a TD pass to Miles Austin.

– Kevin Ogletree’s 13-yard catch on third-and-10 to seal the game. It doesn’t make the list because it’s likely not forgotten, but still worthy.

RELATED: Jerry Jones thrilled by Dallas Cowboys’ tenacity

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) shakes his fist to the Cowboys fans following a 24-17 win against the New York Giants - The Boys Are Back blog

Jerry Jones said the win over the Giants “can be inspirational,” but he has no trouble remembering that the story of the season for them or the Cowboys is a long way from being told.

“The Giants have shown us that you can have a marathon here,” the Cowboys owner said after Wednesday night’s 24-17 victory. “They’re the role model on how to adjust and go home with the trophy. The Cowboys and Giants, neither of us is happy unless we end up in that Super Bowl and get a win.”

When the game got tight at the end, Jones admitted to nervous thoughts.

“What I didn’t say and didn’t know – would this team have the courage to play against a quality team like that, on the road, and have the courage to stay in there and win a ballgame?” he said. “And I really was concerned there late in the game that we were going to fool around here, get them to get back in it. But this bunch persevered. It was a very significant win for the franchise.”

Jones said the Cowboys did show courage in the win, but he didn’t doubt it was there.

“Not their courage, just the tenacity to overcome those mistakes,” he said. “That takes a lot out of  you. I think we might have had like four first downs or four second downs and then had them reversed on penalties there – I’ve lost count. But the point is, I like the way that we won the game. We made a lot of mistakes against a good team that maybe should have beaten us and didn’t because this bunch played and stayed the course.”

CENTER OF ATTENTION: Late trade for depth already pays dividends, Ryan Cook steps up

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) notes to the officials the spot of the ball after a short rush - The Boys Are Back blog

IRVING, TexasFor all the talk about the Dallas Cowboys’ starting offensive line not having time to work together in practice enough heading into Wednesday’s opener at New York, at least they had a week.

But after starting center Phil Costa went down with back tightness, the new front five really did have zero experience together, with new addition Ryan Cook taking over the duties, really only five days after being acquired in a trade from Miami.

However, Cook finished the game and held his own against the Giants’ dominant pass rush. Tony Romo was sacked only once after Costa went down, and DeMarco Murray was given the room to run for 131 yards.

Some coaching staffs would have been hesitant to activate a player who was barely familiar with the offense in the middle of a crucial Week 1 game. In the locker room after the 24-17 win, the 29-year-old Cook explained that in his few practices, the Cowboys staff watched closely to determine if he would be ready to have his name called if needed.

“I think they gauged it in practice the first couple days of me being in the facility,” Cook said. “I guess they were comfortable with me and my progress thus far.”

Cook’s ability to jump in at center is all the more impressive when he revealed how few snaps he had taken with Tony Romo prior to the game.

“The first day I was here I took two or three in the walkthrough,” Cook said. “But that’s about it.”

As Costa’s cramping on Wednesday was simply an aggravation of the injury that knocked him out of the first three preseason games, the Cowboys need reliable depth at center.

While the bottom line shows Cook he was able to get the job done, he was surprisingly not very pleased with his own performance. When asked to rate his time on the field, he was not exactly quick to pat himself on the back, calling it instead “average at best,” and indeed the game was not flawless, but Cook and the Cowboys overcame the situation

“The adversity issue comes up when your starting center goes down after play three and you bring a guy in who just got here,” head coach Jason Garrett said. “I thought our team handled that well.  First of all, that’s the reason he is here. He is a veteran player, he is a smart guy, he has handled the ball a lot in his career, so we thought that was an important thing for us and he went in and played like a veteran. I think the guys around him played well and communicated well. It wasn’t perfect, but I thought they handled it as well as they could.”

Cook, too, chose to defer some of the credit to his fellow offensive linemen, who along with Tony Romo took over a significant part of making the pre-snap calls.

“Communication is a huge factor,” Cook said. “The other guys did a great job of helping me out with certain situations and we made sure that everyone was on the same page.”

A seemingly small move like the trade of a seventh-round pick for Cook shows ample foresight in the Cowboys’ front office.

Though an under-the-radar trade, the move already has provided depth, was exactly what the Cowboys needed to help them start off the season 1-0.

RELATED: Phil Costa hurt, Arkin inactive, newcomer Ryan Cook holds his own

The Dallas Cowboys chose to make offensive center/guard David Arkin, who started three preseason games, inactive. That left newcomer Ryan Cook to play most of the game after starting center Phil Costa re-injured his back.

Costa strained his lower back Aug. 10. He returned to practice Aug. 27 and played 12 snaps of the preseason finale against the Dolphins. But he lasted only three plays Wednesday.

Cook, acquired in a trade from the Dolphins on Saturday, played the rest of the game at center. He had been beaten out for the backup center job by undrafted rookie Josh Samuda in Miami and was destined for the waiver wire before the Cowboys relinquished a seventh-rounder for him.

"I thought our team handled that well," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "First of all, that’s the reason he is here. He is a veteran player. He is a smart guy. He has handled the ball a lot in his career, so we thought that was an important thing for us, and he went in and played like a veteran. I think the guys around him played well and communicated well. It wasn’t perfect, but I thought they handled it as well as they could."

RELATED: Phil Costa hurts his back again; Jerry Jones says it’s cramps

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Dallas Cowboys starting center Phil Costa lasted only three plays Wednesday night against the Giants, leaving the game after the first offensive series after he aggravated a back injury.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Costa is “fine” and he only had back cramps.

“I would assume it’s the same thing he had and we’re going to have to continue to work through it so he doesn’t continue to get that back cramping up,” Jones said.

Costa injured his back during training camp and missed the Cowboys’ first three preseason games before starting and getting in for 12 plays in the preseason finale against Miami.

Costa was replaced at center by Ryan Cook, who joined the Cowboys on Friday via a trade from Miami for a seventh-round draft pick in 2013. Cook had only three practices with the Cowboys last week.

GOOD COMPANY: DeMarcus Ware’s career sack milestone keeps him on Hall of Fame track

Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware (94) pursues New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning - The Boys Are Back blog

After the game, Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware called it "an honor" to reach the 100 sack milestone in his career and do it faster than any NFL player other than the late Reggie White since sacks became an official NFL statistic in 1982.

Ware had two sacks in Wednesday’s 24-17 victory over the New York Giants, giving him 101.5 for his career and making him the 28th player in league history to hit triple digits in the sack department. The kicker: Ware did it in his 113th career game. Only White, who played for the Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers during a Hall of Fame career, reached 100 sacks faster. White did it in 96 games.

The five pass rushers in NFL history who needed the fewest number of games to reach the 100-sack plateau: Reggie White (96), DeMarcus Ware (113), Bruce Smith (115), Jared Allen (122) and Leslie O’Neal (127).

It should be noted that the two guys bracketing Ware on that list — White and Smith — are both in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


    NOT THE SALARY CAP: Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ latest commercial

    INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Milestones achieved during the Dallas Cowboys vs. NY Giants game

    Here are the Dallas Cowboys notes compiled after tonight’s game:

    The win upped the Cowboys all-time record on opening day to 35-17 and snapped a two-game kickoff weekend losing streak.

    Miles Austin’s four catches tonight upped his career total to 215 to pass Timmy Newsome (212) for 17th on the club’s all-time receptions list.

    Josh Brent earned his first career start, taking over for Jay Ratliff (ankle) at nose tackle.

    Bruce Carter made the first start of his career as one of Dallas’ inside linebackers.

    Morris Claiborne made his NFL debut as one of Dallas’ starting cornerbacks tonight.

    DeMarco Murray rushed for 131 yards to give him his fourth career 100-yard outing and the fourth-most rushing yards in a game in his career.

    Murray upped his career rushing total to 1,028 to pass Chris Warren (948) Scott Laidlaw (997) and Troy Aikman (1,016) for 23rd on the Cowboys all-time rushing yards list.

    Kevin Ogletree established career-highs in catches, yards and touchdown passes tonight. He finished with eight catches for 114 yards and two touchdowns. It was also his first career 100-yard performance and touchdown catches

    As Murray rushed for 131 yards, Ogletree had 114 receiving yards and Romo threw for 307, it was the second straight games against the N.Y. Giants the club had a 100-rusher, 100-yard receiver and a 300-yard passer – vs. New York (12/11/11).

    Tony Romo completed 22 passes tonight to give him 1,694 career completions. He is now third on the club’s all-time completions list, passing Roger Staubach (1,685) this evening. He trails Danny White (1,761) by 67 for second.

    Romo threw three touchdown passes tonight to up his club high of three-plus touchdown games to 25.

    Romo had a passer rating of 129.5 tonight. It was his 44th career game with a rating above 100.0 to tie Troy Aikman for the most 100-plus rating games by a quarterback in franchise history.

    It was also the fifth time – out of six – that Romo had a rating above 100.0 on opening day – Romo’s five are the most in team history (Troy Aikman, 4), tied for seventh and represent the fourth-highest figure in NFL history:

                              Opening Day Passer Rating Above 100.0

                Player                       Games         Player                       Games

              Brett Favre……………….. 8              Ken Anderson………… 5

                Frank Tarkenton………. 7              Len Dawson…………… 5

                Tom Brady……………….. 6              Joe Ferguson…………. 5

                Drew Brees……………… 6              Sonny Jurgensen…… 5

                Dan Fouts………………… 6              Vinny Testaverde……. 5

                Dan Marino………………. 6              Tony Romo……………. 5

    Below is Romo’s stat line for season-opening games:

                         GP       Att       Comp       Yds           Pct       TD     Int            Rating          Record

    Romo………. 6      195         138       1,949         70.8      14         4             118.1               4-2

    DeMarcus Ware had two sacks tonight to give him 101.5 for his career and make him the 28th league defender with 100-or-more career sacks. Ware reached the milestone in 113 career games – the second fastest league defender to attain 100 sacks:

                Player                     Games

                Reggie White………… 96

                DeMarcus Ware… 113

                Bruce Smith………… 115

                Jared Allen………….. 122

                Leslie O’Neal……… 127

    Ware’s two sacks tonight also upped his streak of consecutive games with a sack to four games – the eighth streak of four-or-more sacks in his career.

    Ware’s two sacks tonight also upped his club record of multiple sack games to 24. He now has three multi-sack games against the Giants and a career total of 14.5 sacks against New York.

    It was also Ware’s second career and second consecutive multi-sack season opener.

    Jason Witten’s 10 yards gave him 7,919 for his career and allowed him to overtake Jackie Smith (7,918) for fourth on the NFL’s all-time tight ends receiving yards list.

    Dallas Cowboys take the bacon back from New York Giants

    The National Anthem is performed before Dallas Cowboys vs. the New York Giants game - The Boys Are Back blog

    EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) – The Dallas Cowboys waited all year for another shot at the New York Giants. When they got it in the 2012 season opener, they were ready.

    So were the replacement officials, who barely were a story with Dallas dominating the Super Bowl champions for much of a 24-17 victory Wednesday night that wasn’t nearly so close.

    It won’t make up for the New Year’s Day loss that cost the Cowboys the NFC East title and sent the Giants on their way to the NFL championship. It sure could provide impetus for this season, though, particularly with the discovery of a new game-breaker, Kevin Ogletree.

    Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Kevin Ogletree (85) scores on a 40-yard touchdown pass from Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo - The Boys Are Back blog

    While the officials were expected to be a big factor with the league’s lockout of the regulars, there were no controversies, no blatant mistakes or rampant confusion. The spotlight belonged squarely on the Cowboys, from Tony Romo’s three touchdown passes and 307 yards in the air to DeMarco Murray’s 129 yards rushing to Ogletree’s two scores.

    "A huge emphasis for us was big plays," said Ogletree, who enjoyed his big night not far from where he grew up in the New York borough of Queens. "I don’t want the focus to be on me too much, but I am very, very humbled and appreciative of how we played today."

    Dallas’ defense frustrated Eli Manning and his offense with three sacks and a half-dozen pressures, all before the largest crowd at MetLife Stadium for a Giants game. The 82,287 saw the defending league champs lose in the now-traditional midweek kickoff contest for the first time in nine such games.

    Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware (94) sacks New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning in second quarter - The Boys Are Back blog

    "We let them know where we are as a defense, and that we’ll play that way every week," DeMarcus Ware said after getting two sacks to give him 101 1-2 for his career, now in its eighth season.

    When the Cowboys were threatened late – a spot they often have folded in against the Giants – Romo hit Ogletree for 15 yards on third down to clinch it. That gave Ogletree 114 yards on eight catches; he had 25 receptions for 294 yards and no scores entering the game.

    "I’m close to home, so it’s a good feeling," Ogletree said. "But Dallas is my home now."

    The Cowboys’ big-time receivers – Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten – were eclipsed by Ogletree, who sure didn’t resemble a backup. In the first half, he had five catches for 47 yards and a TD, and broke free for a 40-yard reception early in the third quarter.

    Ogletree thoroughly fooled New York’s top cornerback, Corey Webster on his long score to start the second half – the kind of big play the Cowboys couldn’t make enough of in that Jan. 1 showdown that ended their season. And they got another huge play from Murray, who broke two tackles in the backfield, scooted down the right sideline for 48 yards, and set up Dan Bailey’s 33-yard field goal for a 17-10 lead through three quarters.

    After Manning connected with former Cowboys tight end Martellus Bennett for a 9-yard touchdown with 2:36 remaining, Dallas never gave the ball back.

    "Take a bite out of humble pie, that’s basically what it is," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "It brings you right back down to earth."

    Murray’s counterpart with the Giants, Ahmad Bradshaw, scored on a 10-yard run – New York’s first effective rush all game – for the hosts’ first touchdown. And Ogletree’s opposite number, Giants third wideout Domenik Hixon, made a spectacular leaping grab for 39 yards over two defenders to set up that score.

    Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray (29) rushes for 48 yards in the third quarter of the Dallas Cowboys vs. the New York Giants game - The Boys Are Back blog

    Dallas overcame its sloppiness late in the opening half basically on two big plays. Romo hit Bryant in stride over Webster down the right sideline for a 38-yard gain on third down. Two plays later, he sidestepped the pass rush and lobbed to a wide-open Ogletree for a 10-yard score.

    America’s thirst for football hardly could have been quenched by the first half – unless you enjoy strong defensive line play. Each team had one solid drive that was stymied in scoring position, and the only players moving the ball with consistency were punters Steve Weatherford for New York and Chris Jones for Dallas.

    Sean Lee, the Cowboys’ rising star inside linebacker, slammed into first-round draft pick David Wilson and the running back fumbled at the Dallas 29. Then the Cowboys moved 29 yards to fourth-and-inches at the Giants 37. Rather than try a quarterback sneak, Romo handed to fullback Lawrence Vickers, who never got close to converting.

    Dallas showed similar strength after Michael Boley’s 51-yard interception, throwing Bradshaw for losses on consecutive runs on which New York’s line was overrun. Lawrence Tynes’ 22-yard field goal made it 3-0 moments after the first murmur of officiating controversy.

    Manning threw to Victor Cruz in the middle of the end zone and Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick arrived along with the ball. Manning and Cruz motioned for a flag, but it did not come, perhaps because the ball was thrown a bit behind Cruz.

    Otherwise, the feared flops by the replacement officials didn’t materialize, although Dallas couldn’t have been happy with 13 penalties for 86 yards.

    The Cowboys could be happy with just about everything else, including Witten playing despite having lacerated his spleen last month.

    GAME BALLS: Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants

    GAME BALLS - Dallas Cowboys vs New York Giants - The Boys Are Back blog

    Kevin Ogletree: The Dallas Cowboys’ No. 3 receiver had the best game of his career with eight catches for 114 yards and two touchdowns. He had a game-clinching 15-yard catch on third-and-12 in the final minutes to help run out the clock.

    Tony Romo: The Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback improvised enough to extend plays with his feet while completing 22 of 29 passes for 307 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception. His passer rating was 129.5

    Miles Austin: He had four catches for 73 yards, including a 34-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown to put the Dallas Cowboys ahead for good.

    DeMarco Murray: The second-year back pounded the tough New York Giants’ interior for 131 yards on 20 carries. He had a long run of 48 yards, but most of the tough yards came through the middle.

    DeMarcus Ware and Sean Lee: Ware, had two sacks to go past 100 sacks in his career. Lee led the Cowboys with 12 tackles.

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