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Instant analysis: Giants exorcise demons in 20-19 victory over Dallas Cowboys

Lots of things turned out differently for Giants in this opener

New York Giants v Dallas Cowboys
The Giants celebrate their victory on Sunday.
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The New York Giants exorcised a number of demons on Sunday in their heart-stopping 20-19 season-opening victory over the Dallas Cowboys.

  • The Week 1 losing stream demon: The Giants had lost five straight season-opening games before Sunday.
  • The can’t beat Dallas in Week 1 demon: Before the clock expired on Sunday with the Giants on the winning side of the ledger, they were 0-8 vs. Dallas in season openers.
  • The Victor Cruz can’t be an impact player anymore demon: Well, so much for the idea that Cruz will just be a bit player for these Giants. The game-winning 3-yard touchdown catch. A 23-year catch to help set up an earlier touchdown. Four catches in all for 34 yards.
  • The can’t close out games demon: We know all too well that the Giants couldn’t do that a year ago, losing a number of games they appeared to have won entering the closing minutes. It wasn’t easy Sunday, and a mistake by Dallas wide receiver Terrance Williams helped, but they took the lead with 6:13 to go and held it with contributions from both the offense and the defense. Coach Ben McAdoo said the Giants “found a path to victory.” Which was nice, since all too often in recent years the path they took led to defeat.
  • “The offensive line stinks” demon: Maybe it will stink against the New Orleans Saints next Sunday. Maybe it will stink the rest of the season. The much-maligned group didn’t stink Sunday, though. They protected Manning well enough, surrendering two sacks and generally giving him enough time to throw. Most impressively, though, the run blocking excelled. A simplified, run the ball straight ahead behind the middle of the line plan helped as the Giants ran 24 times for 113 yards (4.7 yards per attempt).

Final thoughts

Nothing profound here, but a lot of good things happened for the Giants on Sunday. The defense bent, and didn’t always get pressure on Dak Prescott, but forced three long drives to end in field goals and did just enough at the end. They fought back after losing the lead following an Eli Manning interception on the second play of the third quarter. The Giants ran the ball. They got plays in the passing game from lots of sources not named Odell Beckham — including Cruz, Sterling Shepard and Larry Donnell. This was a good way to start the 2016 season.

Let’s just finish up by listening to McAdoo’s post-game press conference.