With the 2016 season finally here, it was a big day for football fans. But it was even a bigger day for Americans.
"Football brings together Americans from all walks of life."— NFL (@NFL) September 11, 2016
Football Is America. https://t.co/IoRO1YH2Iu
Our own Tom Ryle gives his game recap, including his quick assessment of the team’s rookie quarterback.
For Dak Prescott, it was neither the dominating performance many wanted nor the sudden crash to reality that some predicted for the rookie in his first real NFL game. He was able to convert many third downs in the game, and stayed cool and collected in the pocket (helped by generally excellent protection). However, he clearly had some favorite targets, as he continuously looked for Cole Beasley and Jason Witten. His only problem was in the red zone, and it has to be admitted that Beasley and Dez Bryant both failed to handle passes that would have been touchdowns, forcing the Cowboys to settle for 3 on both occasions when they could have had 7.
The Cowboys staff writers offer up their initial thoughts on the game.
David Helman: You can talk about Terrance Williams or the defense if you want to, but I’ll remember this game for the Cowboys’ inability to run the ball. I knew all about Johnathan Hankins and Damon Harrison going into this matchup, but I severely underestimated their ability to stonewall this rushing attack. Ezekiel Elliott averaged a measly 2.6 yards per carry, and the Cowboys needed 30 attempts to crack 100 yards. It was far tougher sledding than I expected, and I think it limited what the Cowboys were willing to do in the passing game. Aside from that, though, this looked familiar. Dak Prescott looked solid, if a bit conservative, and the Dallas defense made enough plays to limit Eli Manning and his receivers. But when push came to shove, Manning moved his team downfield and got in position for the go-ahead score. The Cowboys gave it a solid effort, but they just couldn’t match up. The Cowboys needed to be better on the ground to help Dak, and it didn’t work out that way.
Oh, the humanity. Terrance Williams had an instinctive reaction, but that reaction took him the wrong direction.
Dallas was driving, desperately trying to get into Dan Bailey field goal range, but Terrance Williams made a huge mistake with the clock winding down. Williams caught a pass and instead of heading for the sideline, cut in to try and get extra yards. He did, but the team was unable to get to the line of scrimmage and time ran out on the comeback attempt.
Troy Aikman was calling the game on FOX and had this to say about TWilly’s miscue.
"Terrance Williams has to know you have to get out of bounds as soon as it's caught to stop the clock. No way you are going to stop the clock otherwise and get a field goal team on the field."
What was Williams thinking? Well, here is what the Cowboys receiver had to say about it:
"I was clearly aware of the time," Williams said. "It was something that I was just thinking of. It was just a bang-bang moment. Now that I have the chance to sit back and think on it I should've just went out of bounds."
Williams added: "It's still a poor decision for me. ...Just looking back, I'll never do it again."
But not everyone is pointing fingers out Terrance Williams. The Cowboys leader on defense has a different take on it.
"To be honest, defensively we should have given the offense more timeouts," Lee said. "We should’ve got off the field sooner, so we shouldn’t have put them in a situation where they had to clock the ball. For us, I see that more as a defensive situation where, ‘Hey, we need to give them more time and more timeouts.’"
It’s moot now, but inquiring minds want to know - could Bailey have done it?
"In those situations, I think really any number is reasonable," Bailey said. "I don't think anything is unreasonable. You're trying to win the game. It's my job to be ready, whatever the yardage is. If my number is called, I go out there and we got to do our best to knock it through."
Bailey said his career long in practice has been 64 yards "with a little wind."
The Giants shut down the Cowboys prize running back, but what does that mean exactly?
With all the uncertainty around this Cowboys team on defense and in having to ride with a rookie quarterback, the running game with Elliott and this powerful young line was supposed to be the constant. Instead, it was ultimately the Cowboys' downfall because it never became a weapon they could rely upon to move the chains.
What does the rookie think of his debut? Here is what he had to say:
Elliott said: "I think I was average, you know. Average. That’s not why I was brought here to be average, so we’ve got a lot of work to get done. A lot to work on. But, you know, it’s the NFL. You can’t win every game, so I’ve just got to get back to work and get better next week."