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Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys roll over Beckham-less Giants

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  • By Jeremy Bergman NFL.com
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The Dallas Cowboys were in control from start to finish during the first Sunday Night Football spectacular of the season, beating the New York Giants, 19-3, at AT&T Stadium in Week 1:

1. Odell Beckham's absence was the story before, during and after this Sunday night snoozer. The injured Giants wideout was sorely missed on an offense that mustered just two first downs in the first half and struggled to execute game-changing chunk plays. New York's best drive of the night was a 16-play, near-10-minute drive that ended in a field goal. Beckham was the dynamic presence that broke open New York's last meeting with their North Texas foes -- and most of the Giants' games last season, for that matter. We'll see if Big Blue's offense is truly broken next Monday night when Beckham is expected to return against the Lions. Speaking of absent Giants pass-haulers...

Where in the world is Brandon Marshall? The veteran offseason acquisition, who was slated to see more action with Beckham out, was barely targeted. Credit Cowboys cornerback Nolan Carroll, formerly of the rival Eagles, and rookie Chidobe Awuzie, who filled in the sidelined Orlando Scandrick, with nearly shutting Marshall out, but if New York's offense is to be as advertised, which is to say explosive and game-changing, then Marshall needs to earn his share of receptions.

2. Who needs a "war daddy" when you're bringing four and reaching pay dirt against the Giants' offensive line? Big Blue's biggest flaw was exposed early and often by Dallas' front seven, which, led by DeMarcus Lawrence, sacked Eli Manning three times and held New York to 35 rushing yards. As if it weren't readily apparent, Ereck Flowers and Bobby Hart were, are and will be major liabilities at the tackle positions. Against fiercer fronts, New York will be in big trouble.

3. Fresh off a well-publicized legal battle, Ezekiel Elliott looked like Ezekiel Elliott in Dallas' opener. A threat on carries and receptions out of the backfield, Elliott burst into the second level with the same ferocity as last season, tallying 140 total yards. Thanks to Elliott's consistency, the Cowboys offense controlled the clock -- and the game -- on Sunday night, handidly winning the time of possession battle. Zeke's sturdy showing should remind the populace how important he is to this offense, and how different Dallas' offense would have been without him in this game.

4. Jason Witten is now the Cowboys' all-time leading receiver. The legendary tight end passed Michael Irvin (11,904 yards) for most in franchise history with an 11-yard grab in the second quarter. A model of longevity, Witten entered his 15th season in the league with a seven-catch, 59-yard evening. Bravo.

5. While we're congratulating Cowboys, kudos to Jaylon Smith, who finally made his NFL debut after recovering from a devastating knee injury suffered in January of 2016. Smith finished with seven tackles, second on the team behind Sean Lee.

6. Cole Beasley is not human.

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