What a way to start the season! While it wasn’t the prettiest of games, the Dallas Cowboys opened up the season with a W against a divisional opponent that they failed to defeat last season - their arch-nemesis: the New York Giants. Heading into the week, the talk surrounding the game included Ezekiel Elliott’s case, whether or not Odell Beckham Jr. would play, and if Dak Prescott would be able to pick up where he left off after a historically impressive rookie campaign.
Odell ended up sitting this one out, a huge break for a young secondary in week one. While Dak didn’t look as sharp as we are accustomed to seeing, he still threw for more than 250 yards and a touchdown against one of the better defenses in the league. He used his legs to extend plays, led critical drives, and was turnover free again. Zeke eclipsed the 100-yard mark against New York’s monstrous front seven for the second consecutive time.
Who stood out the most from the Cowboys’ victory over the Giants? I want to say the entire defense for getting to Eli Manning and holding the Giants to just a field goal. Demarcus Lawerence practically lived in the backfield all night long, the secondary made Brandon Marshall a non-factor, and Anthony Brown came up with a huge interception to seal the game in the fourth quarter. But if I have to go with one player, I would give the game ball to the leader of the defense: Sean Lee.
Sean Lee is the captain of the defense. The one who makes sure everybody is lined up correctly, in the correct positions, and seems to always know where the ball is going on each and every play. Always. On Sunday night, the Pro Bowl linebacker was involved on seemingly every tackle in the Cowboys’ defensive domination against the Giants. The General led the team in tackles, but it was more about his impact on the game. The opposing offense could not do a thing without Lee flying in from just about anywhere on the field.
The defense as a whole played with a chip on its shoulder. Maliek Collins, DeMarcus Lawrence, and the defensive line were able to get into the backfield all night long and make things uncomfortable for Eli Manning. The young secondary made it tough on the receivers to get open, and even Jaylon Smith played with aggression.
It all started with Lee. From the opening possession, 50 led the charge and made sure his guys were prepared for battle. Lee read Manning’s eyes, knew where each play was going, and made sure to leave his imprint on the game. When the Giants go back home, they will be thinking of Sean Lee.
Sean Lee has been all over the field this half. Same with Lawrence on the D-Line. #cowboyswire— Rob Phillips (@robphillips3) September 11, 2017
How impressive was Lee’s night? According to Pro Football Focus, Lee was dominant against the run in the first half. On a third of the Giants’ first fifteen snaps of the season, Lee was in there for the stop. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Sean Lee is already in mid-season form pic.twitter.com/RVKaKPi7CK— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) September 11, 2017
Here he is in the fourth sniffing out another run play:
Sean Lee looked really, really good last night. After playing a healthy season and reaching the Pro Bowl a season ago, Lee appears to have picked up where he left off. The Cowboys played with aggression and determination all night long. You can thank Sean Lee for setting the tone for the night — and hopefully the season.
Gold Jacket Witt set another Dallas Cowboys franchise record. In the first half of game, the future Hall of Famer broke Michael Irvin’s Cowboys record for most career receiving yards.
88 made sure to give a shout out for the big accomplishment.
Later in the game, Dak hit Witten for six — the only touchdown of the contest. The legend ended the season opener with 7 receptions for 59 yards. It was just so fitting it happened against the Giants.
What a day for number 54! After almost having his career ended during his final collegiate game, Smith did the unthinkable and recovered from a horrific injury in time for his second professional season. Smith played sparingly in the preseason, but the former Notre Dame linebacker made his first career start in his first career regular season game on Sunday.
To top if off, Smith had a big impact on the game, too. He played fearlessly, aggressively, and passionately. Knowing his dream of playing professional football was nearly gone before it even started, Smith played all out. He ended his first professional game with seven tackles, including four solo. You cannot write a better script than that.
What stood out to you in the Cowboys’ season opening game?