The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly might be the first movie that comes to mind if you are thinking about one to represent the Dallas Cowboys victory over the New York Giants to open the season, but I think there is another that is more appropriate: True Grit. And that is largely because of one play in the first quarter, which on the surface looked like a horrible one for Dallas, but which turned into something that I think may have set the tone that led to the win.
After Will Allen intercepted Eli Manning for the third of the six turnovers Dallas forced in the game (just let that wonderful stat settle in your head for a moment), Dallas was driving to try and build on a paltry 3-0 lead. After a miscue on the snap exchange and after an incomplete pass, Dallas faced a third and 11 at the Giant's 14 yard line. Tony Romo attempted a pass to rookie Terrance Williams, but Williams ran a bad route (which seems clear from the shot of him on the bench, where he looked very upset with himself). The ball was picked off at the eight by Ryan Mundy, after a carom off Prince Amukamara, and he was off to the races. It looked like he was going to score and give the Giants the lead.
But a couple of Cowboys had something to say about that. Romo, who is a man among men where quarterbacks are concerned, went after him, and despite blockers, he threw himself into the fray. He was unable to stop Mundy, but he slowed him down. And DeMarco Murray came charging up and caught Mundy at the one. A mere yard away from the goal line, but it showed a determination to not give up, to contest every last inch.
Then it was up to the defense, and they more than rose to the occasion. They stopped David Wilson for no gain. George Selvie, who was impressive filling in for the injured Anthony Spencer, got a sack. Then they kept Brandon Myers out of the end zone and forced the Giants to settle for a field goal. Instead of being down four, the Cowboys had a tie. And they would never be behind the entire game.
All because Romo and Murray refused to concede that score. Murray's tackle was huge, but Romo, fighting the blockers where many if not most NFL quarterbacks would have made a business decision and not stuck their noses in was just as important.
With the ensuing stand, the Cowboys made a clear and unequivocal statement. They are not giving up. They are not quitting. They are going to fight and scrap for every inch of field. There were a lot of warts on this win, but in the end, it is a win. The team has something to build on. And it is possible that turning seven points into three for the Giants at that early point in the game may have been the difference in what wound up being a much closer game that it should have been, the way the defense and special teams were stealing the ball. Of all the things that the Dallas players may take away from this game, I think that is the most valuable.
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