Week 10 of the 2010 season may not have pitted two more diametrically opposed teams than the Cowboys and the Giants. Coming into this game, the Giants had won five straight, including a 41-7 victory the week before against the Seahawks, and were sitting at 6-2 overall. The Cowboys, losers of five in a row, were ushering in Jason Garrett as interim coach following a 45-7 setback against the Packers and were 1-7 on the year.
The first meeting a few weeks prior was a thriller that New York pulled out in Dallas, 41-35. Not much could have been expected of Dallas in this game, played at New Meadowlands Stadium. As much as the team had been through in the first half of the season, how could anyone expect a good performance in this one. Two straight blowout losses and a campaign already down the drain doesn’t tend to instill confidence in players, coaches, or fans.
It must have just been the Cowboys’ day. It’s been too long since anyone could utter those words sincerely. I don’t know if the team felt inspired by new leadership or what, but they got it done, 33-20.
It’s highlight time!
Here is a recap from Bleacher Report. I thought this kind of wrapped it up nicely:
“Garrett got the Cowboys to play with effort and conviction, something that Wade Phillips was practically begging for when still in Dallas. The Cowboys ran the ball, they created turnovers, they had big pass plays and they kept their penalties down, and even when it seemed like the Giants were making a push to comeback, the Cowboys put their heads down and kept fighting instead of saying, ‘Here we go again.'”
Probably the biggest stat from this game was turnovers. Dallas forced three and only committed one. More importantly, it was when they took place that made the bigger difference. One of them, an Eli Manning interception, was returned 101 yards for a touchdown by Bryan McCann. At the time, the Cowboys lead 9-3 in the second quarter, and New York had the ball at the two yard line. A touchdown there would have given the Giants the lead and the momentum to go with it.
A sequence of plays in the fourth quarter greatly impacted the game. First, a 48-yard Manning touchdown pass was wiped out by a holding penalty. Dallas was ahead 33-20 at the time, with under eight minutes to play. The next play, a bad snap led to a turnover, and the Cowboys were in business. They missed a field goal a few plays later, but the damage had been done. Then, with under three minutes to go, Eli Manning threw another red-zone interception, and that was all she wrote.
There were a lot of positives to take away from this game, aside from the fact it was a victory. The running game was better, if not spectacular. As a unit, the running backs gained 100 yards rushing, although the 3.6 yards per carry is a bit anemic. Felix Jones contributed in the passing game as well, taking a screen pass 71 yards to paydirt.
Dez Bryant again played very well, gaining 104 yards on three catches, with one score, which was an acrobatic play he made around the goal line. Not to forget anyone, Jon Kitna had a good game, with 300+ yards and three touchdowns and only one interception. He also averaged almost 15 yards per attempt, compared to fewer than eight per attempt for Manning. For the defense, a couple of unheralded defensive backs made big plays with the aforementioned interceptions.
The only real negative was the play of kicker David Buehler, who missed an extra point and a field goal, but still managed nine points.
It was as good a start as Jason Garrett could have hoped for, and a better one than most Cowboys fans probably expected.
Record to this point: 2-7