After nearly a month of speculation, the decision was made and announced just before last night's game. Jason Witten played.
The Cowboys tight end was active despite recovering from a lacerated spleen suffered in the preseason opener. He underwent examinations from doctors in recent days, but it wasn't until a brief pregame workout on the field at MetLife Stadium that the team decided to allow him to participate.
While the Giants considered it an advantage if Witten did not play -- Justin Tuck mentioned this week that taking away Tony Romo's "security blanket" could give the pass-rushers an extra fraction of a second to disrupt passes -- many believed that he would. That included former Cowboys teammate Martellus Bennett, the Giants' new tight end who said during the week that he "wouldn't be surprised if he picked his spleen up and held it in his hand to try to run routes."
Witten didn't have to go that far. But there were reports earlier Wednesday that he offered to sign a waiver that would have released the team and its doctors of any liability in order to play. Witten had missed only one game in his career, a 2003 game with a broken jaw. Wednesday night was his 140th straight game for the Cowboys.
Witten injured his spleen on Aug. 13 when he was hit by Raiders linebacker Rolando McClain. He was listed as "doubtful" heading into Wednesday night's game.
The Giants considered flip-flopping starting tackles Sean Locklear and David Diehl this week, since Locklear has spent most of his career as a right tackle and the Giants won two Super Bowls with Diehl on the left. But with projected starting left tackle Will Beatty active but not quite ready to start because of a back injury, the team decided to stick with Locklear on the left and Diehl on the right.
"We did [consider the switch], very much so," offensive coordaintor Kevin Gilbride said this week, "but right now Sean is playing very well."
Beatty was expected to come into the game as a third tackle on some running plays to ease him back into action. He did not play in any preseason games.
"Obviously William coming back is a huge factor for us to have some depth and then play it out," Gilbride said. "I hate to say it, but it's like his first exhibition game, except it's for real and so you're going to be tentative watching how he plays."
A pre-game ceremony honored all four Giants Super Bowl-winning teams and included Phil Simms, Ottis Anderson and Michael Strahan . . . All of the Giants' key questionable players were active, but not all of them started. Besides Beatty, LB Michael Boley (hamstring) was not on the field as a starter. Keith Rivers took his place . . . Michael Coe started at cornerback in place of Prince Amukamara (ankle) who was inactive . . . Adrian Tracy was the Giants' fourth defensive end while preseason sack leader Adewale Ojomo was inactive . . . Cowboys CB Mike Jenkins (shoulder) was inactive.