Dallas 19, Cleveland 12
Preview - Box Score - Recap
By JAIME ARON, AP Sports Writer
September 19, 2004
AP - Sep 19, 6:42 pm EDT
IRVING, Texas (AP) -- Bill Parcells is always toughest on his teams after they win, especially when they win ugly. That means the next eight days could be excruciating for the Dallas Cowboys.
Vinny Testaverde threw for 322 yards and Eddie George ran for 61 yards and a touchdown in a 19-12 victory over the Cleveland Browns that had all the makings of a blowout -- if not for mistake after mistake by the Cowboys.
Dallas (1-1) reached at least the Cleveland 43-yard line on 10 of its 11 drives, but turned them into only two touchdowns and a field goal. The rest were squandered by four turnovers (including three late interceptions by Testaverde), a missed field goal and two punts.
Add in some silly and ill-timed penalties and the Browns (1-1) were in the game to the end. Yet quarterback Jeff Garcia couldn't muster the spark he showed in winning his Cleveland debut, throwing three interceptions, including two in the fourth quarter after his defense picked off Testaverde.
Garcia was 8-of-28 for just 71 yards and had a rating of 0.0. The Browns had just 202 total yards, with their only points coming on four field goals by Phil Dawson.
Testaverde was 23-of-35 and threw for a touchdown.
He looked great early, driving 90 yards on the first series against a defense coached by Dave Campo, who was the Cowboys' coach before Parcells. Dallas' drive included a flea-flicker to Keyshawn Johnson for 38 yards and a 1-yard TD pass to third-string tight end Jeff Robinson.
But the problems followed quickly. The ensuing kickoff went out of bounds and the next drive ended with a fumble by rookie Julius Jones.
The Cowboys kept alive another drive with a 33-yard run by Dexter Coakley on a fake punt. They got only a field goal, though, partly because of an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Johnson.
After Cleveland's Earl Little was flagged for unnecessary roughness on receiver Terry Glenn, Johnson ran in and kneed Little, producing offsetting penalties. Dallas would've had a first down inside the 10.
Testaverde underthrew Johnson on what certainly would've been a touchdown on the opening drive of the second half. The series ended when Billy Cundiff's 49-yard field goal attempt hit the right upright.
Linebacker Dat Nguyen intercepted Garcia soon after and it led to George's 3-yard touchdown. George had 18 carries and heard fans chant his name after a late 9-yard gain.
Then the game dissolved into the back-and-forth interceptions -- five in a span of six drives.
The only exception was Cleveland's fourth field goal, a 22-yarder. The Browns were down by eight and facing fourth-and-4 from the Dallas 5. Although a touchdown and 2-point conversion would've tied it, coach Butch Davis went conservative because there was still 14:26 left. Dawson's kick made it 17-12.
Nobody scored again until Dallas got a safety with :08 left.
Cleveland running back Lee Suggs was inactive again because of a neck injury. William Green ran for 52 yards on 19 attempts. Kellen Winslow was held to just one catch for 11 yards.
The Browns, who were trying to be 2-0 for the first time since 1993, lost the left side of their defensive line to injuries. End Courtney Brown hurt his foot and tackle Gerald Warren strained a chest muscle.
Former Cowboys Ebenezer Ekuban replaced Brown. He caused and recovered Jones' fumble and had a sack.