Rob Ryan's defense gained revenge over the New York Giants, as the Dallas Cowboys defeated the defending Super Bowl champions 24-17, to begin the 2012 NFL season.
Ryan's unit was embarrassed by the Giants last season. In two costly defeats, Ryan saw Big Blue quarterback Eli Manning destroy his secondary, along with wideouts Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks.
Wednesday night told a different story, as armed with new personnel, Ryan confounded Manning and the Giants offense. That new personnel includes prize cornerback pair Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne.
The duo performed admirably and blanketed Cruz and Nicks most of the game. They only managed to combine for a meagre 10 receptions for a paltry 96 yards.
Contrast that with last season's finale, a matchup the Cowboys lost 31-14, costing them a playoff place. In that contest, Cruz and Nicks combined for 11 catches for 258 yards and each scored a touchdown.
Cruz averaged an eye-popping 29.7 yards per catch in that game, but was held to a measly 9.7 on Wednesday night. Carr and Claiborne were physical and pressed well and received sound assistance from the Dallas safeties.
This tight coverage allowed the pass rush to flourish, led of course, by the brilliant DeMarcus Ware. The star rush end registered two sacks, giving him triple-digits so far in his stellar career.
Ware consistently chased and pressured Manning and was aided by defensive lineman Jason Hatcher and Sean Lissemore. This combination of intense pressure and aggressive man coverage is what the Cowboys defense was supposed to look like last season.
It was made possible by a rugged defensive front that flattened any attempts the Giants made to run the ball. Backup nose tackle Josh Brent and veteran end Marcus Spears stuffed the middle and controlled the line.
This allowed speedy inside linebackers Bruce Carter and Sean Lee to chase down New York runners on the outside. The G-Men only managed 82 yards on nineteen carries and also lost a fumble in the running game.
In total, the Cowboys defense held the Giants to under 300 yards of total offense. That's quite an achievement considering how Manning has had his way with Dallas in recent meetings.
Ryan's group is under a lot of pressure to produce this season. On this evidence they might actually be able to deliver the perfomances to match their high talent level.772117