Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Dallas Cowboys [Print without images]

Thursday, August 11, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Cowboys 24, Broncos 23

By Calvin Watkins



ARLINGTON, Texas -- The preseason opener is over, and the Cowboys rallied to beat the Broncos 24-23 at Cowboys Stadium.

What it means: The Cowboys might have a player in rookie wide receiver Dwayne Harris, who caught two touchdown passes -- both in the fourth quarter. Stephen McGee also showed he can play with poise late in a game with his 13-yard touchdown pass to Harris and ensuing two-point conversion to Martin Rucker to take the lead.

First-team offense: Just like in last year's preseason opener, the Cowboys' first-team offense didn't score a touchdown but instead was able to get a 42-yard field goal from David Buehler. The best part of what we saw with the first team was Felix Jones, who is now the full-time starter. He had a strong 18-yard run up the middle and later turned a screen pass into 16 yards. Jones showed a good burst and lateral movement. For the night, Jones had three carries for 23 yards and the one catch for 16. Tony Romo completed three of five passes and was hit just once, on a third-down play that fell incomplete. Tyron Smith and David Arkin, two rookies, got the start and didn't fare too badly. However, both played with the backup quarterbacks, Stephen McGee and Jon Kitna. It looked like Smith missed a block, leading to a sack of McGee.

More rookie action: Undrafted wide receiver Raymond Radway (Abilene Christian) caught the first touchdown pass of the preseason, a 10-yarder from McGee. Radway also had a 40-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter. Yet the McKinney North product had his moments -- he let a catchable ball late in the fourth quarter go through his hands as he jumped in the air. But the third-quarter touchdown drive was set up by three nice catches from rookies. Sixth-round pick Harris escaped two defenders, got wide open and caught a 26-yarder, and made a nice play on a 10-yard slant. After making the catch, he ducked under a defender to get some yards. But Harris' best play was catching a short pass from McGee and turning it into a 76-yard burst for a touchdown.

Tyron Smith's debut: First-round pick Tyron Smith made his debut at right tackle. The only known mistake came when he missed a blitz pickup leading to a sack as John Phillips released into a route. David Arkin, the fourth-round pick, played pretty well starting with the first team.

The kicking-game issues: The kickers weren't the problem. David Buehler made a 42-yarder, and Dan Bailey was solid on kickoffs. The problem was the deep snapper. After the Cowboys tied the score early in the fourth quarter, backup deep snapper Corey Adams sent a knuckleball to the holder, and Bailey couldn't attempt the PAT.

What's next: The Cowboys will have Friday off and resume training camp practices Saturday at Cowboys Stadium to prepare for the San Diego Chargers, who visit Aug. 21.