EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –The most outstanding player during training camp and a big part of the Cowboys' reason for hope this season, receiver Dez Bryant had been silent for almost three months until Wednesday night.
In the aftermath of the Cowboys' 24-17 win, the third-year receiver spoke to the media for the first time since turning himself into police on charges of family violence in mid-July. While the interview was entirely football-related, Bryant still revealed some things about his offseason activities and invigorated commitment to the game.
The 23-year-old appears to have a much better grasp of the Cowboys offense this year, and looked more prepared than ever before on Wednesday night.
"I feel like that's my job," Bryant said. "If I'm going to be put out there with Tony Romo, Witten, Miles Austin, I've got to know what the hell I'm doing. And I feel like I dedicated myself to do that, and not only that, I had help from Tony, I had help from Miles, Wit and the rest of the guys. I feel like it helped me out a lot, I learned a lot and I'm just going to keep it moving."
Bryant caught four passes for 85 yards while drawing extra attention from New York throughout Wednesday's game, in turn opening things up for Kevin Ogletree to lead the team in receiving.
Both Bryant and Miles Austin were recovering from injuries leading up to the opener, with Austin nursing his tweaked hamstring and Bryant resting from the bout with knee tendinitis he began to deal with after the second preseason game. He missed the "dress rehearsal" exhibition at St. Louis and sat out practices until returning Saturday as preparation for New York officially began.
"I feel great," Bryant said. "Once the game started, I wasn't really thinking about an injury."
Murray Finds Groove
DeMarco Murray had 20 yards in the first half. He finished with 131.
That's what good backs are supposed to do – get stronger as the game goes on. That's exactly what Murray did with his 111 second-half yards. The big run was a 48-yarder that looked like it might be a five-yard loss. But Murray snuck away from defenders and ripped off the big run in the third quarter to give the Cowboys a much-needed field goal.
Overall, Murray was the workhorse back the Cowboys were expecting, getting 20 carries. The other six went to Romo (five) and Lawrence Vickers (one). Felix Jones didn't get a single carry, and came out of the game with cramping at one point.
Murray's 131 rushing yards was his fourth 100-yard game and the fourth-most of his young career. He's already up to 1,028 rushing yards, good for 23rd in club history, surpassing Troy Aikman (1,016).
- *Nick Eatman *
- Wednesday's win was Jason Garrett's first season-opening win as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.
- Wednesday's win upped the Cowboys all-time record on opening day to 35-17 and snapped a two-game kickoff week losing streak.
- Miles Austin's four catches Wednesday upped his career total to 215 to pass Timmy Newsome (212) for 17th on the club's all-time receptions list.
- Josh Brentearned his first career start, taking over for Jay Ratliff (ankle) at nose tackle.
- Bruce Carter made the first start of his career as one of Dallas' inside linebackers.
- Morris Claiborne made his NFL debut as one of Dallas' starting cornerbacks Wednesday.
- Kevin Ogletreeestablished career-highs in catches, yards and touchdown passes Wednesday. He finished with eight catches for 114 yards and two touchdowns. It was also his first career 100-yard performance and touchdown catches.
- Tony Romo completed 22 passes Wednesday to give him 1,694 career completions. He is now third on the club's all-time completions list, passing Roger Staubach (1,685). He trails Danny White (1,761) by 67 for second.
- Romo threw three touchdown passes Wednesday to up his club high of three-plus touchdown games to 25.
- Romo had a passer rating of 129.5 Wednesday. It was his 44th career game with a rating above 100.0 to tie Troy Aikman for the most 100-plus rating games by a quarterback in franchise history.
- It was also the fifth time – out of six – that Romo had a rating above 100.0 on opening day – Romo's five are the most in team history (Troy Aikman, 4), tied for seventh and represent the fourth-highest figure in NFL history.
- DeMarcus Ware had two sacks Wednesday to give him 101.5 for his career and make him the 28th league defender with 100-or-more career sacks. Ware reached the milestone in 113 career games – the second fastest league defender to attain 100 sacks, behind only Reggie White (96 games).
- Ware'stwo sacks Wednesday also upped his streak of consecutive games with a sack to four games – the eighth streak of four-or-more sacks in his career.
- Ware'stwo sacks Wednesday also upped his club record of multiple-sack games to 24. He now has three multi-sack games against the Giants and a career total of 14.5 sacks against New York.
- It was also Ware's second career and second consecutive multi-sack season opener.
- Jason Witten's 10 yards gave him 7,919 for his career and allowed him to overtake Jackie Smith (7,918) for fourth on the NFL's all-time tight ends receiving yards list.