The name “Kevin Ogletree” has taken root in my consciousness and won’t let me go. I keep seeing the Cowboys’ third wide receiver bolting past Corey Webster on a double move and catching Tony Romo’s perfectly thrown ball for a touchdown to put Dallas up 14-3.
Then it’s 3rd and 11 and the Giants just need this one stop to get the ball back to Eli Manning and the offense. But there’s Ogletree again, catching a slant between Justin Tryon and Antrel Rolle. If they could have delayed Ogletree just a split second, Jacquian Williams could have drilled Romo into the ground for a sack.
Unfortunately for the Giants and me, Kevin Ogletree was not to be denied last night, and the Cowboys beat the Giants 24-17 in the first regular season game of the 2012 NFL season. What a bummer. Justin Tryon should not have even been on the field, but the Giants’ fourth option at cornerback, the peerless Michael Coe, left the game with a hamstring injury shortly after denying Kevin Ogletree a third touchdown pass.
Seriously, if Coe’s hamstring gave way one play eariler, we very well could be talking about Kevin Ogletree’s three-touchdown night. Instead, the Virginia Cavalier had to settle for “only” eight receptions and 114 yards with a pair of scores.
Despite all the Ogletree, it seemed like the Giants were a play here and a play there from actually pulling of the victory. Maybe if the refs saw Orlando Scandrick yanking Victor Cruz’s jersey the Giants get an extra four points after Michael Boley’s long interception return. Maybe if Victor Cruz could have caught the freaking ball on the plays he didn’t get held, there’s an extra opportunity to score. Maybe if Michael Coe didn’t get hurt he could have knocked down the pass that fell into Miles Austin’s hands for a 34-yard touchdown catch and run.
All of those things could have been different, but weren’t. You can say the same about any football game. If you look at the stats, though, it becomes clear that Dallas kicked all kinds of booty in this game, and the Giants were outplayed.
Despite being shutdown in the first half, DeMarco Murray came out and ran like a demon child in the second. Even if you take out the amazing 48-yard run that made me want to wring Justin Tuck’s neck, Murray still had a number of powerful runs in which he gained yards after contact. Just look at Dallas’ last scoring drive, when the Giants desperately needed a stop to avoid going down two scores.
FROM THE GAME BOOK
1-10-DAL 18 (13:03) D.Murray up the middle to DAL 23 for 5 yards (J.Tryon, M.Kuhn).
1-10-DAL 32 (11:27) D.Murray left tackle to DAL 37 for 5 yards (M.Boley, J.Tuck).
1-10-NYG 43 (10:11) D.Murray left tackle to NYG 34 for 9 yards (A.Rolle).
2-1-NYG 34 (9:33) D.Murray right guard to NYG 38 for -4 yards (M.Boley).
PENALTY on NYG-L.Joseph, Defensive Offside, 5 yards, enforced at NYG 34 – No Play.
That was a secretly killer penalty that negated a monster stop for the New York defense. Carry on…
2-5-NYG 24 (8:04) D.Murray left tackle to NYG 22 for 2 yards (M.Boley, C.Blackburn).
2-10-NYG 29 (7:48) D.Murray left tackle to NYG 14 for 15 yards (C.Webster). R16
1-10-NYG 14 (7:08) D.Murray left end to NYG 11 for 3 yards (C.Blackburn).
PENALTY on DAL-M.Bernadeau, Illegal Use of Hands, 10 yards, enforced at NYG 14 – No Play
That’s 36 yards on five carries for Murray on a clock-killing drive when the Giants needed to stop the run at all costs. Pretty decent, and I’m pretty pissed off already that I didn’t pony up the dollars for him in my fantasy auction.
Meanwhile, the Giants struggled to get anything going on the ground. Ahmad Bradshaw had trouble hitting his holes and really only had two good runs all night. One he took around left end for a touchdown in the third quarter (10 yards). The other was on the Giants’ final scoring drive when Bradshaw ran through a gash in the middle for 33 yards and a nice stiff arm of Penn Stater Sean Lee. Other than that, it was pretty ugly for Bradshaw, who actually had a decent fantasy game (17 carries, 78 yards and a score).
David Wilson didn’t see the ball at all after fumbling on New York’s second offensive possession. Lee made a great play to force the ball out and after that we only saw Wilson on kickoff returns. Hopefully he can get some confidence going against Tampa next week. He’s really, really fast.
Through the air, the Giants were torn to shreads by Tony Romo. Ogletree and Dez Bryant seemed to be open all day on slants. Webster looked pretty lousy and Coe got burnt a couple of times early, but at least he recovered to make a pair of nice plays before leaving.
Romo made some nice Romo plays in which he escaped the pocket and improvised, which helped negate New York’s pass rush. In fact, after his early interception, Romo barely did anything wrong all night. He threw for 307 yards on only 29 passes (22 completions, 76%). No matter how many 50-50 plays went against the Giants, those passing numbers spell doom.
I’d be more concerned if Romo wasn’t accustomed to ripping the Giants. Just last December he threw for 321 yards and four touchdowns on just 31 attempts in the Cowboys’ 37-34 home loss to New York. Even after Manning led the Giants back from a 34-23 deficit, Romo quickly led Dallas into field goal range, only to have the attempt blocked by Jason Pierre-Paul.
Same story this time around. The only difference was that Dallas kept the ball away from Manning at the end with a key third down conversion. It all came down to Ogletree (and Justin freaking Tryon).