Dallas Cowboys

JUST CHILL: Cowboys Grades vs. the Giants

Quarterback Tony Romo threw two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter to rally the Cowboys to a 27-26 comeback victory against the Giants in the season opener Sunday night.
Quarterback Tony Romo threw two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter to rally the Cowboys to a 27-26 comeback victory against the Giants in the season opener Sunday night. AP


PASSING OFFENSE: A- – What more can be said about Tony Romo’s heroic effort. He was intercepted twice, but only one was his fault. The other was the result of a drop by Devin Street. Two other passes were dropped by Terrance Williams and Dez Bryant. Still, Romo only missed nine passes, completing 36 of 45 for 356 yards with two touchdowns. He was almost perfect on the final two drives, completing 11 of 12 passes and two touchdowns, to rally the Cowboys to victory. Romo had a clean pocket as he was not sacked and only suffered one quarterback hit.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C – At least for the first time out, the Cowboys didn’t run the ball with the same commitment or the same success as they did last year when DeMarco Murray had a league-leading 1,845 yards. The Cowboys ran the ball 23 times for 80 yards. That includes 16 carries 65 yards for Joseph Randle and six carries for 16 yards for Darren McFadden. They didn’t run it much if at all in the red zone. The Cowboys got away from the physical style that had been their calling card. Yet, the running backs combined for 131 yards passing on 12 receptions combined so they were effective. Lance Dunbar had the best night of all the running backs. He didn’t have one carry, but he had a team-leading eight catches for 70 yards.

PASS DEFENSE: A – In what was the first game without top cornerback Orlando Scandrick, the pass defense held up, giving up just 193 yards passing and no touchdowns to two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback Eli Manning. Star receiver Odell Bechkam Jr. was held in check, catching five passes for 44 yards. It was a huge win for cornerback Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne and nickel back Tyler Patmon. It was especially a big night for Carr, who had to hear all year about the one-handed catch Beckham made last season against him. According to Pro Football Focus, Beckham was targeted three times when covered by Carr. He ended up with two catches for 8 yards.

RUSH DEFENSE: B – The Giants rushed 24 times for 99 yards. But in the end, they didn’t do enough on the ground to hurt the Cowboys, considering that 53 of the 99 came in the fourth quarter. Sean Lee led the Cowboys with nine tackles. Linebacker Anthony Hitchens, who missed the final three preseason games with a sprained foot, had a strong game with eight tackles as he started in the middle in place of the suspended Rolando McClain.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A –The Cowboys didn’t get any big returns, but their coverage was very strong against the Giants. Dwayne Harris had 3 yards on two punt returns. Linebacker Kyle Wilber was a beast in coverage. Dan Bailey sailed six kickoffs out of the end zone. Chris Jones averaged 52 yards per punt. Bailey nailed two field goals and all of his extra points.

COACHING: A – Coach Jason Garrett preaches daily to his team about fighting regardless of circumstance and playing with a relentless spirit. It was on full display against the Giants as the Cowboys lost the turnover battle 3-0. Teams who lose the turnover battle by that much lose the game more than 90 percent of the time. But the Cowboys never gave up and ultimately found a way to win in miraculous comeback fashion. It would have been easy for the Cowboys to give up and get down on themselves. Credit coach Jason Garrett’s mental approach as much as the magic of quarterback Tony Romo.

Clarence Hill: 817-390-7760, @clarencehilljr