Vanderjagt active for Cowboys home opener, Portis out for Redskins
The Cowboys still led the Washington Redskins 24-10 after Drew Bledsoe threw a 40-yard TD pass to Terry Glenn on the first play of the fourth quarter. Patrick Crayton caught a 4-yard TD pass and Marion Barber scored on a 1-yard run before halftime.
Everybody was ready to see what Owens had in store for his first TD celebration at home for the Cowboys. And it looked like it was going to happen quickly, until the ball slipped out of his hands in the back of the end zone on their first drive.
That was the first of Owens' three drops, to go along with three catches for 19 yards.
The video screen at Texas Stadium already had flashed the word "Touchdown" and the fans were cheering -- except Owens bobbled the 8-yard pass from Bledsoe. Cornerback Mike Rumph then swatted the ball away, making sure Owens wouldn't recover to make the catch.
Mike Vanderjagt, playing in his first game for Dallas, kicked a 26-yard field goal on the next play.
Only two passes were thrown Owens' way in the third quarter. Carlos Rogers stepped in front of the first one and almost came down with an interception, then was called for pass interference on the Cowboys' first play from its 1 after Roy Williams' interception.
Owens insisted during the week he hadn't figured out how to celebrate his first TD at Texas Stadium, where six years ago he stomped on the midfield star logo twice after touchdowns while playing for San Francisco.
Going into the fourth quarter, everybody was still waiting.
When Owens dropped a pass on a third-down play for the second time in the second quarter, even a few boos cascaded from the stands. Owens was also flagged for two penalties, a personal foul for an illegal block on the Cowboys' first offensive snap, and later for an illegal formation.
The Cowboys went ahead 17-3 when Barber scored on fourth down after being stuffed at the 1 for no gain on the previous two attempted leaps into the end zone.
Washington got that score right back when Rock Cartwright returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards. That was the first kickoff return for a TD against Dallas since 1993.
John Hall added a 39-yard field goal for the Redskins.
After the initial penalty against Owens, Dallas got to the Washington 30 before he caught a 12-yard pass. He quickly popped up and indicated first down, and the Cowboys got an extra 9 yards after Cornelius Griffin was flagged for piling on during the tackle.
Vanderjagt then kicked his first field goal. Vanderjagt, the NFL's most accurate field goal kicker, was signed during the offseason to solve the Cowboys' kicking woes, but was inactive for the opener even though coach Bill Parcells said he was recovered from a groin injury.
Crayton's 4-yard TD on the second possession gave the Cowboys a 10-0 lead, just like in the season opener they lost 24-17 at Jacksonville.
Washington also lost its opener, but after the New York Giants beat Philadelphia in overtime earlier Sunday, three NFC East teams will be 1-1 -- and the other will be 0-2 -- heading into Week 3.
Brunell, who threw TD passes of 70 and 39 yards to Santana Moss in the final four minutes of a 14-13 victory at Dallas last September, was 7-of-18 for 64 yards after three quarters. Moss had one catch for 7 yards.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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