ARLINGTON, Texas - Jason Pierre-Paul said he made the decision on the plane to Texas on Saturday that he would play in Sunday night's opener against the Cowboys.

Afterward, the Giants defensive end said he had no regrets, but he also said he was not quite himself.

"It was rough out there for me, but it was my decision and I don't regret it,'' he said after the Giants' 36-31 loss, in which Pierre-Paul had a sack but otherwise was mostly quiet.

He played primarily in passing situations early in the game but later played more regularly.

"I went out there and did what I could,'' said Pierre-Paul, who had back surgery in the spring. "I felt all right. I didn't play to my expectations . . . I felt like I was kind of struggling out there. But it is what it is. We lost. We have 15 more to go and I have to keep getting better.''

The encouraging news was that Pierre-Paul said he was not tired and that his back "didn't hurt at all.''

advertisement | advertise on newsday

"You just have to get in that football shape again, man,'' he said. "As much as I practiced and whatever, I just have to get in football shape.''

JPP was not sure how many plays he participated in. "Whatever they threw out there, I was out there and that was basically it,'' he said. "The next game is more serious than this one. We have Peyton Manning coming through and Eli, that's his brother, and we have to be 100 percent with him. It is what it is.

"I expect for me to be in the next game and keep getting better every day.''

Did fellow defensive end Justin Tuck see any rust in Pierre-Paul?

"A little bit,'' he said. "We talked a lot during the game. He's always asking how he looks and what I see and things of that nature. For him, it wasn't necessarily rust. I don't think he trusted himself early in the game. That's difficult coming off of back surgery and this is your first action against that type of competition.

"I think as the game went on, he got a little more comfortable. He's got to play himself into game shape. He'll tell you that, too. But I think he did well considering the lack of reps . . . He just really started practicing this week, so if tonight is any indication of what the season might be, man, you might be looking at another awesome season for him.''