The Dallas Cowboys open the 2013-2014 season against an old and familiar nemesis, the New York Giants. Dallas had a busy off-season, overturning its coaching staff, giving quarterback Tony Romo a contract extension, reshuffling its offensive line and switching play-callers. All in hopes of getting the Dallas Cowboys over the hump of consecutive 8-8 seasons.
Here is a look at the Dallas Cowboys’ keys to victory:
Invade the backfield
Eli Manning has his share of success against the Cowboys in the past. But in 2012 his stat line and 77.6 passer rating against Dallas were fairly pedestrian, in part, because the Cowboys’ defense was able to apply pressure – sacking him four times. The Giants’ line has been weakened by injuries to center David Baas and right tackle David Diehl. That will affect a team that had the fewest negative plays in the NFL last season. The Cowboys’ patchwork defensive front needs to take advantage.
When the Cowboys dumped defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and replaced him with Monte Kiffin, they made it known that the move was born out of the desire to force more turnovers. Last season, the Cowboys generated 16 takeaways. Only three teams had fewer. Dallas’ defense has spent the preseason trying to create more game-changing plays. They need to be opportunistic against the Giants, who coughed up the football 21 times last season and had the ninth-fewest giveaways.
Jump out to fast start
Last season, the Cowboys’ offense procrastinated, waiting until a decent chunk of time had expired before kicking into high gear. Only three teams scored fewer points in the first halves of games in 2012 than the Cowboys, who were notorious slow starters. Case example was a loss to the Giants last October, when Dallas trailed 23-0 early in the second quarter before staging a furious comeback that ultimately fell short. On Sunday, the Cowboys will have to get on track early against the Giants.
Get running game going
The Cowboys spent the off-season and training camp trying to resuscitate a running game that was historically bad in 2012, when Dallas rushed for 1,265 yards – a franchise low for a 16-game season. The Cowboys have installed zone-blocking schemes and stretch plays designed to boost the ground attack. Tailback DeMarco Murray is confident the changes will help as he tries to bounce back from a disappointing season. He’ll find out Sunday while facing the team that was the opponent in the last game he accumulated 100 or more rushing yards.
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Listen to the “Voice of the Dallas Cowboys” Brad Sham on KRLD in Dallas.
GAMEDAY RESOURCES: Watch the game
To watch on TV tonight, tune to:
KXAS (Channel 5) in Dallas/Ft. Worth | WNBC in New York City
Out of market? Click HERE to watch online (NFL Sunday Ticket)
When: Sunday, September 8th, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. (Dallas time)
Where: AT&T Stadium (formerly Cowboys Stadium), Arlington, Texas
Watch on TV: NBC’s Sunday Night Football; check local listings
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