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Dallas D cuts Giants down to size

(TSX / STATS) -- FRISCO, Tex. -- A maligned defense stole the show from the more respected offense in the Dallas Cowboys' 19-3 season-opening victory over the New York Giants on Sunday night.

Owner Jerry Jones agreed: "Defense was really the story tonight."

Never mind that the Giants were without play-making receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

New York scored only a field goal, its fewest points since being shut out by Philadelphia 27-0 on Oct. 12, 2014 and the fewest against Dallas since Dec. 21, 2003. New York rushed for only 35 yards, its fewest since gaining 33 yards on the ground Nov. 29, 2015 at Washington and the fewest Dallas has allowed since holding Philadelphia to 7 on Sept. 20, 2015.

"That's hard to do - three points - in the NFL, especially a team we respect as much as we do as New York," Jones said.

And New York converted 4 of 12 third downs, including going 0-for-5 in the first half.

"There were a lot of good things in the game, obviously. I thought the third down was really, really important in this game," head coach Jason Garrett said. "I thought we played the right way. We played with a relentless spirit. When you go back and look at it play by play, obviously there are so many things we can get better at. The execution has to get better.

"But the overall picture about how you play was positive, not only on defense but throughout our team. That situational football, particularly the third-down stuff, was key for us."

Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence sacked quarterback Eli Manning on the defense's first third down of the night to force a Giants punt. He had two sacks on the night.

Defensive end Charles Tapper had a sack on second-and-goal at the Cowboys 4, forcing the Giants to settle for their lone field goal on the first drive of the second half.

Cornerback Anthony Brown had a game-sealing interception.

Let's not forget that the most proven secondary player, cornerback Orlando Scandrick, took only nine snaps before exiting with a fractured hand.

"There were some question marks," Garrett said. "We felt good about the group of guys that we had, but we hadn't seen them play in a regular-season game yet. And I thought they responded well. I thought the defense did a good job responding within the game.

"Orlando Scandrick played nine plays in the game, he comes out. All of a sudden Anthony Brown is going from outside to inside. Chidobe [Awuzie] is out there playing corner against really good football players. I thought all those guys played with poise, handled that stuff well, made the adjustments well, communicated well so they all played together even though they were in a couple of different spots.

"So I thought all that stuff was positive, something we can build on."

Quarterback Dak Prescott and receiver Dez Bryant were not surprised by the defense. They said they've seen it all along in training camp.

"It ain't nothing new to us," Bryant said. "They make it tough for the offense in practice and it showed tonight on the field."

Added Prescott: "We know exactly how salty they are."

Updated September 11, 2017

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