In a game that featured five interceptions in a span of six
possessions -- most coming in the fourth quarter -- Dallas did enough
things right to beat Cleveland 19-12 Sunday.
"It's not the kind of game I like to be involved with,"
Cowboys coach Bill Parcells said. "But, we got away with it."
Vinny Testaverde threw for 322 yards and a touchdown, but
accepted much of the blame for not putting the game away. He missed
open receivers, including several in the end zone, and put the
Cowboys in trouble with three late interceptions.
Dallas (1-1) scored just two touchdowns and a field goal despite
getting to at least the Cleveland 43-yard line on 10 of its 11
drives. The rest were squandered by Testaverde's pickoffs, a fumble
by rookie Julius Jones, a missed field goal and two punts.
The combination of big yards -- 441, the most since 1999 -- and
few points was similar to last week, when the Cowboys had 423 yards
and 17 points. Difference was, Dallas lost last time.
"We did some soul-searching and made it happen," safety Roy Williams said. "I can breathe a little easier and go to sleep
Cleveland (1-1) came in off an impressive victory over Baltimore
in the opener and was looking to go 2-0 for the first time since
1993. The Browns had reason to be optimistic, too, as new
quarterback Jeff Garcia played well against Dallas while with San
Francisco and defensive coordinator Dave Campo was getting his
first chance to avenge his firing as the Cowboys' head coach two
But Garcia went 8-for-27 for 71 yards with a rating of 0.0. The
Browns had just 202 total yards, their only points coming on four
field goals by Phil Dawson.
"It was one of those days where I could never find any sort of
rhythm," Garcia said.
Still, Cleveland was in it to the end, even after giving up a
safety with :08 left. The Browns recovered an onside kick and threw
deep on the final play. It fell incomplete.
"We need to play better offense," said Browns coach Butch
Davis, who was confident enough in his team's scoring ability that
with 14:26 left he went for a field goal on fourth-and-4 from the
Dallas 5 when a touchdown and 2-point conversion would've tied it.
"Somehow we have to figure out how to make first downs and turn
these turnovers into points."
Of more concern for Cleveland is an apparent ankle injury to
rookie tight end Kellen Winslow on the onside kick. X-ray results
were not immediately available.
The best news for Dallas was seeing its defense make plays,
something Parcells said not a single player did in allowing five TD
passes to Minnesota last week.
They pressured Garcia from the start and linebacker Dat Nguyen
made a nice play to get the unit's first turnover of the season.
But there were plenty of breakdowns, such as pass interference
by Terence Newman, considered the best player in an otherwise weak
secondary, and roughing the passer by Bradie James. Both turned
punting situations into first downs.
Parcells is usually toughest on his teams after they win,
especially ugly wins. While he told players not to treat this like
a loss, he'll have plenty to growl about -- and an extra day to do
it since the Cowboys next play on Monday night.
Testaverde blamed himself for making "rookie mistakes." They
soured the fact he became the first 40-year-old to have consecutive
300-yard passing games and the second Cowboys passer to do it; the
other was Don Meredith in November 1963, within days of Testaverde
"The bottom line is winning games and playing smart,"
Testaverde said. "I did one out of the two."
Dallas' highlights included a flea-flicker to Keyshawn Johnson,
which set up a 1-yard TD pass to third-string tight end Jeff Robinson, and a 33-yard run by Dexter Coakley on a fake punt that
set up a field goal. That drive didn't continue because of an
unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Johnson.
Eddie George ran for 62 yards and a touchdown, and heard fans
chant his name after a late 9-yard gain.
Dawson upped his league-best streak of field goals to 16.
... Former Dallas end Ebenezer Ekuban caused and recovered Jones'
fumble and had a sack. ... Robinson has three catches in his 18
games for Dallas. All have produced touchdowns.
Nolan Carroll suffered a broken ankle Thursday, and the Eagles signed Jaylen Watkins from the Bills' practice squad to take Carroll's roster spot.
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo won't get his fairy-tale ending this year. How many more chances will he get in Dallas?
Panthers coach Ron Rivera played for the 1985 Chicago Bears, who saw their hopes for a perfect season end after an 12-0 start.
When the Vikings assembled for a short practice on Friday, coach Mike Zimmer had some kind words for Adrian Peterson.
The Redskins' secondary took another hit with the loss of Chris Culliver. But they're hopeful that other players can -- and will -- step up.
After a stunning loss to the Bears on Thanksgiving, Packers coach Mike McCarthy said his players just need to focus on winning each play.