The New York Giants kept giving Dallas the ball and it was only a matter of time before the Cowboys started doing something of substance with the gifts.
Tony Romo, the quarterback, and the Cowboys took advantage of six turnovers to hold off the Giants 36-31 before 85,348 fans at AT&T Stadium on Sunday – the first NFL win for Dallas in five tries against New York in the Cowboys' US$1 billion (Dh3.6bn) home.
The six turnovers led to 24 Dallas points, 21 coming in the second half. Romo passed for 263 yards and two touchdowns, both to Jason Witten. Romo left the game late in the first half after getting the wind knocked out of him but returned to start the third quarter.
Eli Manning, the Giants quarterback, did his best to overcome the turnovers, which included three interceptions. The two-time Super Bowl winner connected with Victor Cruz for three touchdowns as New York tried to rally down the stretch.
The Giants coughed the ball up twice in the third quarter, allowing Dallas to go up 27-10. David Wilson's second fumble - and New York's fourth turnover - was returned 27 yards by Barry Church for a touchdown.
A muffed punt by Trumaine McBride gave Dallas another golden opportunity at the New York 16. Two plays later, Romo found Witten in the end zone.
The Giants answered with an 80-yard march, punctuated by Manning's second touchdown pass to Cruz. They hooked up again in the fourth quarter to get New York within 30-24 with nearly nine minutes left.
The Giants had the ball with less than three minutes left, but Manning's third interception was returned 49 yards for a touchdown by Brandon Carr to seal Dallas' win.
The Cowboys took a 13-10 lead into the locker room but lost Romo in the final minute of a first half dominated by turnovers.
Romo was hit in the midsection on his last pass of the half and had to be helped off the field, but he downplayed the injury in a post-game interview.
"I just took a hit and it caught me pretty good and just had to take a little bit of time," he said. "It's just part of playing football. You take some hits sometimes ... No one really cares. That's the truth with people who are banged up in football.
"I'm going to be fine. I haven't got any X-rays yet. We'll do all that stuff tomorrow."
Green Bay Packers 34, San Francisco 49ers 28
Frank Gore scored a go-ahead, 1-yard touchdown with 5:47 remaining, Colin Kaepernick threw for a career-high 412 yards and three touchdowns, with 13 completions to Anquan Boldin, and the San Francisco 49ers beat the Green Bay Packers 34-28 on Sunday.
Boldin had 208 yards receiving in a spectacular San Francisco debut and Vernon Davis caught a pair of touchdown passes from Kaepernick, who marched his team 80 yards on five plays to take the lead late. The 49ers answered after Packers rookie Eddie Lacy put Green Bay ahead on a 2-yard run with 8:26 left.
Aaron Rodgers threw for 333 yards and three touchdowns, but the Packers departed from Candlestick Park with another defeat eight months after losing 45-31 in the NFC divisional play-offs.
New Orleans Saints 23, Atlanta Falcons 17
Drew Brees passed for 357 yards and two scores, and the Saints held on for the win in coach Sean Payton's return from his bounty ban.
Roman Harper secured the win when he intercepted a tipped fourth-down pass in the end zone with under a minute left.
Brees connected with Marques Colston for a 25-yard touchdown pass during which the receiver also set a franchise mark for catches with 533. Brees also hit tight end Jimmy Graham for a 7-yard score in the third quarter.
Matt Ryan passed for 304 yards and touchdown passes to Tony Gonzalez and Julio Jones. He also drove Atlanta to the Saints 3 in the final minute before falling just short.
Kansas City Chiefs 28, Jacksonville Jaguars 2
Alex Smith threw two early touchdown passes, Kansas City's defence dominated all day and the Chiefs began the Andy Reid era with a victory at Jacksonville.
Jamaal Charles ran for 77 yards and a touchdown before leaving the game with a quadriceps injury, but that was about the only negative for the Chiefs.
Jacksonville advanced past its own 36-yard line just once, a stunning display of offensive futility for the rebuilding franchise. The Jaguars finished with 178 yards, but for most of the game were challenging the team low of 117 yards set last year against Houston.
It wasn't even close to the start the new coach Gus Bradley wanted, but it was a clear indication of how far the team has to go.
Chicaco Bears 24, Cincinnati Bengals 21
Jay Cutler passed to Brandon Marshall for the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, helping Chicago get the victory in Marc Trestman's coaching debut with the team.
It wasn't quite the display the Bears were looking for after making some big changes in the offseason. But it was good enough.
The Bengals led by 11 in the third quarter and were up 21-17 early in the fourth when Tim Jennings jarred the ball from Mohamed Sanu following a reception and made the recovery.
Chicago took over at its 19 and got an 8-yard run from Matt Forte on fourth-and-inches at the Bengals 27 to keep the drive going. Cutler then found Marshall in the front corner of the end zone for a 19-yard touchdown, giving Chicago a 24-21 lead with 7:58 remaining.
New England Patriots 23, Buffalo Bills 21
Stephen Gostkowski hit a 35-yard field goal with 5 seconds left to send New England to the road win.
Tom Brady set up the decisive score by leading a 49-yard, 12-play drive during which he twice completed passes to convert third downs. It was Brady's 36th career victory in which the Patriots were tied or trailed in the fourth quarter.
Brady finished 29 of 52 for 288 yards passing and two touchdowns in helping the Patriots win their season opener for the 10th straight season.
The new-look Bills nearly pulled off a stunning upset in the first game under coach Doug Marrone and rookie quarterback EJ Manuel, who completed 18 of 27 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns.
Indianapolis Colts 21, Oakland Raiders 17
Andrew Luck ran 19 yards for the winning touchdown, giving Indianapolis its first opening-day win since 2009.
Luck was 18 of 23 for 178 yards with two touchdown passes, but earned his eighth career fourth-quarter comeback by scrambling for a score with 5:20 to go.
Oakland started Terrelle Pryor at quarterback. He was 19 of 29 for 217 yards and one TD, and he broke the Raiders' rushing record for a quarterback with 13 carries for 112 yards.
But he also threw two interceptions in the red zone, the second coming with 25 seconds left in the game.
Detroit Lions 34, Minnesota Vikings 24
Reggie Bush turned a short pass into a 77-yard touchdown in the third quarter and finished with 191 yards of offense to help Detroit pull away from Minnesota.
Joique Bell ran for two TDs, including a go-ahead score that gave the Lions their first lead early in the third quarter.
Matthew Stafford was 28 of 43 for 357 yards with two TDs. His last score was a 1-yard lob to rookie tight end Joseph Fauria with 6:47 left that sealed the win.
Adrian Peterson ran for a 78-yard TD on his first carry and scored on a 4-yard run to give Minnesota a 14-6 lead in the second. He ended up with 93 yards rushing.
St Luois Rams 27, Arizona Cardinals 24
Greg Zuerlein kicked a 48-yard field goal with 40 seconds left to lift St. Louis to the comeback victory.
It was Zuerlein's fourth field goal of the game for the Rams, who trailed 24-13 after three quarters.
Larry Fitzgerald caught two touchdown passes from new quarterback Carson Palmer and Arizona's defence had a TD.
Jared Cook had two touchdown catches in his Rams debut. The tight end fumbled a potential third TD, a 55-yarder that would have opened the scoring, when rookie Tyrann Mathieu punched the ball free at the 8 and the play resulted in a touchback.
New York Jets 18, Buccaneers 17
Nick Folk kicked a 48-yard field goal with 2 seconds remaining after Lavonte David's personal foul penalty kept New York's drive alive, and the Jets pulled out an improbable opening victory.
With the Jets trailing 17-15 and time running out, rookie Geno Smith scrambled for 10 yards - and was shoved while he was out of bounds by David.
The 15-yard penalty gave the Jets the ball at the Buccaneers 30 and set up Folk's winning field goal on the next play.
Things appeared dim for the Jets just moments earlier when Rian Lindell kicked a 37-yard field goal with 34 seconds left.
Smith, making his first NFL start with Mark Sanchez out with a shoulder injury, made some mistakes – a fumble that led to a score and an interception – but was mostly solid while going 24 of 38 for 256 yards with a touchdown.
Tennessee Titans 16, Pittsburgh Steelers 9
Tennessee's revamped defence sacked Ben Roethlisberger five times and the Titans shut down the Steelers.
Chris Johnson ran for 70 clock-chewing yards, Jackie Battle bulled his way to a 3-yard touchdown in the second quarter, and Rob Bironas kicked three field goals for the Titans. Tennessee's new-look defence did the rest.
Pittsburgh managed just 195 total yards and lost a series of players to injury, including Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey. Pouncey left in the first quarter with a right knee injury and likely will miss an extended amount of time.
The Titans gave up more points than any team in the NFL last season and brought in Gregg Williams as an assistant. His impact was immediate. Roethlisberger completed 21 of 33 passes for 191 yards and a late touchdown, but never got comfortable when the game was in doubt.
Seattle Seahawks 12, Carolina Panthers 7
Russell Wilson threw for 320 yards for Seattle, including a 43-yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Kearse in the fourth quarter.
The Seahawks managed just two field goals before Kearse beat cornerback Josh Thomas down the right sideline for the go-ahead score with 10:13 left.
The Panthers held Marshawn Lynch to 43 yards rushing, but Wilson picked up the slack by completing 25 of 33 passes.
The Panthers threatened to take the lead late, but safety Earl Thomas forced DeAngelo Williams to fumble at the Seattle 8. Defensive tackle Tony McDaniel recovered with 5:25 left. The Seahawks ran out the clock from there.
Carolina's Cam Newton was held to 125 yards passing and one touchdown, a 3-yard strike to Steve Smith in the first half.
Miami Dolphins 23, Cleveland Browns 10
Ryan Tannehill passed for 272 yards and a touchdown, leading the Dolphins to a win over the Browns, who fell to 1-14 in Week 1 since 1999.
Tannehill, who was given more offensive weapons for his second NFL season, threw a 34-yard TD pass to Brian Hartline in the third quarter and drove the Dolphins to a game-clinching TD in the fourth.
Daniel Thomas had a 1-yard scoring plunge with 6:48 left, putting the Dolphins up by 10.
Miami's Cameron Wake had 2 sacks and the Dolphins' defensive line sacked Brandon Weeden six times.
Weeden threw three interceptions and the Browns never got anything going in coach Rob Chudzinski's debut.
Rookie Caleb Sturgis kicked three field goals for the Dolphins.