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Instant Analysis: Giants fall in Dallas, 36-31

PLAY OF THE GAME: In his first game as a New York Giant, safety Ryan Mundy intercepted Tony Romo's pass that was tipped by teammate Prince Amukamara, returning it 91 yards the other way down to the Dallas one-yard line. The first-quarter takeaway led to a Josh Brown field goal. A close second was Victor Cruz's 70-yard touchdown from Eli Manning in the second quarter to pull the Giants within a field goal of the Cowboys.

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TURNING POINT: The Giants were able to keep their heads above water after the first three turnovers, but the fourth -- David Wilson's second fumble – was returned by Dallas for a touchdown to take a 20-10 lead in the third quarter. The Giants tried to fight back but were unable to overcome the turnovers on the road, losing the opener to Dallas 36-31.

SACK OF THE NIGHT: * *Coming close all night, Linval Joseph split the first sack of the season for the Giants with Justin Tuck midway through the fourth quarter. Jason Pierre-Paul followed up for back-to-back takedowns of quarterback Tony Romo, forcing the Cowboys to punt and give the ball back to the Giants with a chance to take the lead.

WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT THE OFFENSE:The first quarter and the season as a whole couldn't have started more poorly for the offense. But after three turnovers on the first three possessions – two Eli Manning interceptions and a David Wilson fumble – the Giants remained in the game with help from the defense. However, after Wilson's second fumble that was recovered and returned by Dallas for a touchdown, the turnovers – six total -- eventually became too much to overcome, as they usually do throughout the course of a game on the road. The good news coming out of Dallas was that Hakeem Nicks and Cruz both looked healthy and that the Giants will keep on fighting back. In the first half, Nicks ripped off a 57-yard catch-and-run, and Cruz hauled in a 70-yard touchdown from Manning for the wide receiver's first of three scores on the night. Add in Rueben Randle, and all three receivers finished with more than 100 yards each, giving the Giants a chance to take the lead late in the fourth quarter. However, the sixth and final turnover sealed the Giants' fate for their first loss in AT&T Stadium.

WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT THE DEFENSE: Three turnovers by the offense left the Giants defense on the field for 21:31 in the first half. With that in mind, the defense responded well, holding the Cowboys to just a field goal off the three turnovers. They kept Dez Bryant in check, limiting him to four catches for 22 yards. However, they again couldn't find an answer for tight end Jason Witten, who had eight catches for 70 yards and two touchdowns. Witten had 18 catches in the last meeting between the two teams. The turnovers on offense wore out the defense, which spent 37 minutes on the field.


WHAT WE LEARNED ABOUT SPECIAL TEAMS: **Earning the job in the preseason, rookie running back Michael Cox took over as the primary kickoff returner, a position held by Wilson last year. Meanwhile, Randle returned punts to start his second season, fielding four for an average of five yards apiece. Brown connected on his one field goal attempt and all four extra points while shutting down the Cowboys' kickoff return unit by booting touchbacks all night.

ROOKIE WATCH: First-rounder Justin Pugh started at right tackle; QB Ryan Nassib, DT Johnathan Hankins, DE Damontre Moore did not dress.

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