A look back: Cowboys press heavy vs. Giants

IRVING, Texas – The NFL’s new All-22 access will be a great tool during the season with the ability to look at the coaches’ tape on games. The Cowboys' 24-17 win against the New York Giants on Wednesday was posted today and here are some tidbits from our weekly look-back feature:

** In training camp it was obvious the Cowboys would use more press coverage than they had in the past. It fits with Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne, as well as Mike Jenkins once he gets healthy. The New York Giants had 54 snaps and the Cowboys played press or half-press in 42 of them. They were in full press 27 times and half press (at least one corner on the line) 15 times. They played off coverage 10 times and just three times in the second half. (Two snaps were in goal line personnel.)

Carr and Claiborne would mix how they went at the Giants wide receivers with their jams. Sometimes they would get their hands on the wide out; other times they would fake a jam, which would slow the receiver’s release.

** Jason Witten only caught two passes for 10 yards, but you can attribute some of Kevin Ogletree’s numbers to the tight end, specifically that last catch on third and 10. Giants linebacker Jacquian Williams blitzed after lining up over Witten, forcing safety Antrel Rolle to stick with Witten over the top for a second as Ogletree ran the slant and pick up 13 yards. It was a well thought out play that took advantage of how the Giants corners were playing.

** Let’s look at the goal-line stand in the second quarter. Most of the time it takes everybody to stop a team from the 1 but it also takes tremendous individual efforts.

On first down, Anthony Spencer fended off TE Bear Pascoe, which slowed the fullback in his lead block and forced Ahmad Bradshaw wide. Spencer was able to ride Bradshaw out of bounds.

On second down, the Giants went to Bradshaw again and Marcus Spears blew up the play by playing traffic cop and Josh Brent was able to fill in for the tackle.

On third down, the Giants wanted an illegal contact penalty on Orlando Scandrick, and he did grab Victor Cruz. But the grab came after Cruz pushed off Scandrick to create more separation. I’m sure there will be plays like this where the Cowboys don’t benefit later this year.

** We always talk about a quarterback’s arm or his legs. We don’t talk enough about his eyes. On Tony Romo’s deep ball to Dez Bryant for 38 yards in the second quarter, his eyes made the play. At the snap, Romo kept his eyes down the middle of the field, forcing safety Kenny Phillips into the hashmark and creating a bigger lane for the pass to Bryant after he beat the corner. There was no way Phillips could cover enough ground to get there in time, but Romo helped himself by creating more room.

** Romo was terrific against the Giants. He could have been better than 22 of 29 in some ways. Maybe 26 of 29 if he was able to get his feet right a couple more times. He missed Felix Jones twice, including a dump off that Jones should have caught. He fired a missile at Jason Witten from close range in the second half. And on a throw to Kevin Ogletree in the end zone, if he was able to throw off his left foot instead of his right after getting flushed out of the pocket, he would have had Ogletree in the end zone. As it was Ogletree did a nice job of making sure the pass wasn’t picked.

** Josh Brent went unnoticed during the game, but he was terrific, especially early in the game against the run. He did more than just eat up the Giants’ line. He was able to create some penetration. In fact, the line was good all night, which is why the linebackers were four of the top five tacklers in the game.

** Doug Free should have been penalized for holding on DeMarco Murray’s 48-yard run. His arms were outside of Mathias Kiwanuka’s shoulders after getting beat on the snap.

** Anthony Spencer didn’t have a sack but he was active. If you’re looking for why Jason Hatcher was able to drop Eli Manning in the fourth quarter, give Spencer some credit for the pressure that sent Manning that way.