East Rutherford, NJ – Tony Romo threw for 307 yards and three touchdowns as the Dallas Cowboys downed the New York Giants, 24-17, in the opening game of the 2012 NFL season.
Romo completed 22-of-29 passes with an interception for the Cowboys, who finished last season with an 8-8 record and missed the playoffs after falling to the Giants in Week 17.
Kevin Ogletree recorded the first two touchdowns of his career while catching eight balls for 114 yards in the win. DeMarco Murray added 131 yards on 20 carries for Dallas (1-0).
"We had to deal with adversity in all three phases of our football team. I thought our guys did a really good job maintaining the right demeanor and understanding it's a 60-minute ballgame," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "They just kept playing and didn't blink when things didn't go well for us."
Jason Witten, who suffered a lacerated spleen in the preseason, was cleared by doctors before the game and finished with two receptions for 10 yards.
Eli Manning went 21-for-32 through the air for 213 yards and a score for New York, which won its final six games last season to become the first 9-7 team in NFL history to win the Super Bowl.
Ahmad Bradshaw carried the ball 17 times for 78 yards and a touchdown, while Victor Cruz paced all Giants (0-1) receivers with six catches for 58 yards.
"You take a bite out of humble pie is basically what it is. It brings you right back down to earth," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said about the loss. "Last year is last year and this year is this year."
After the teams traded three-and-outs on the first two possessions of the game, Manning found Cruz for a 26-yard strike down the left sideline as part of a nine-play drive which moved down to the Dallas 29-yard line, but Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee forced a fumble by running back David Wilson that was recovered by Barry Church, giving the Cowboys the ball at their own 34.
On the ensuing drive, Dallas elected to go for it on 4th-and-1 at the New York 37-yard line and Lawrence Vickers' dive up the middle was stuffed by the Giants defense.
New York was then forced to punt, but Michael Boley stepped in front of a Romo pass on the Cowboys' next touch, which stretched into the second quarter, and returned the interception 51 yards down to the Dallas 1-yard line.
The Giants, however, could not push the ball into the end zone and had to settle for Lawrence Tynes' 22-yard field goal with 9:14 left in the first half.
Both offenses continued to struggle until Dez Bryant's 38-yard reception on a 3rd-and-1 highlighted a seven-play, 73-yard march, which Romo finished off by scrambling away from pressure before floating a 10-yard pass to Ogletree in the middle of the end zone with just over a minute left in the second quarter, making it a 7-3 game at the break.
The Cowboys received the ball to start the third quarter and quickly added to their lead with an eight-play, 80-yard drive that reached third down once and was capped off with Ogletree's 40-yard score down the right sideline.
New York, though, answered with a nine-play, 89-yard scoring drive to get back within four points. Manning connected on 12-yard passes to Domenik Hixon, Martellus Bennett and Hakeem Nicks before finding Hixon for a 39-yard bomb at the Dallas 10. Bradshaw then raced around the left side of the line on the next play, pushing his way past a defender and into the end zone to make it a 14-10 game.
On the second play of Dallas' ensuing drive, Murray took a pitch out to the right and seemed to be stopped for a loss, but he broke a tackle and cut to the left before breaking back to the right and racing down the sideline for a 48-yard gain to the New York 25.
Romo's nine-yard scramble later gave the Cowboys a 1st-and-goal at the 10, but Dallas was forced to settle for Dan Bailey's 33-yard field goal within the final minute of the third quarter.
After the Giants failed to capitalize on a roughing the passer penalty that kept their drive alive on a failed third-down attempt on their next touch, Miles Austin finished off an eight-play, 82-yard drive which took over seven minutes off the clock by leaping in front of a defender to grab a pass before working his way into the end zone for a 34-yard touchdown, giving Dallas a 24-10 advantage with 5:57 left in the game.
New York converted on a pair of fourth downs deep inside Dallas territory before Bennett hauled in a nine-yard score in the back of the end zone to bring the Giants back within 24-17 with 2:42 remaining, but Romo hit Ogletree for a 15-yard gain on a 3rd-and-12 prior to the two-minute warning to keep a drive alive, allowing the Cowboys to run out the remainder of the game clock.
"We gave ourselves a chance there at the end of the game. It just took way too much time for us to score," Coughlin said.
Ogletree had 25 receptions for 294 yards through 31 career games prior to Wednesday night ... Bryant finished with four receptions for 85 yards, while Austin had four catches for 73 yards for the Cowboys ... Bennett caught four balls for 40 yards ... The Cowboys totaled 433 yards of offense ... New York finished with 269 total yards ... Dallas leads the all-time series between the teams, 57-41-2.