TSN: Cowboys struggle in first game without Carter at QB

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  1. LaTunaNostra

    LaTunaNostra He Made the Difference

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    Cowboys struggle in first game without Carter at QB

    August 14, 2004


    David Carr was almost perfect. The new-look Cowboys offense wasn't.

    Carr was 7-of-8 for 89 yards and a touchdown Saturday in the Houston Texans' 18-0 victory over Dallas in their preseason opener, which featured the Dallas debuts of veterans Vinny Testaverde, Eddie George and Keyshawn Johnson.

    Testaverde, the nominal starter after the Cowboys cut incumbent Quincy Carter on Aug. 4, was 4-of-7 for 34 yards, including one 13-yard completion to Johnson. George ran for 12 yards on five carries before the reserves took over.

    "I'm very disappointed," Cowboys coach Bill Parcells said. "We played everyone and I got to look at a lot of players, and I've decided to spend more time with the guys that will be playing."

    It was Dallas' first visit to Houston since the Texans shocked the Cowboys 19-10 in the franchise's inaugural game in 2002, though many of the Cowboys' faces have changed since then. It also marked the second straight season Dallas failed to score in its first exhibition game.

    "Me and some other guys have been here for three years now," Carr said. "Same offense, same coaches, and it's just a blessing. We just go out there and try to use it and do what we did today."

    Dallas linebacker Dat Nguyen came away impressed with Carr.

    "You could tell he felt a lot more confident out there (than before)," Nguyen said. "He is coming up. He is going to be one of the stars in the quarterback position in this league."

    Before the 40-year-old Testaverde left, he became uncomfortably familiar with Houston's two first-round draft choices, cornerback Dunta Robinson and linebacker Jason Babin.

    Early in the second quarter, Robinson flashed his speed to break up what might have been a long completion down the middle to Antonio Bryant.

    On the Cowboys' next possession, Babin broke through and stripped the ball from Testaverde. Antwan Peek recovered to set up a 25-yard field goal by Todd Sievers for a 13-0 lead.

    "It was a good feeling to get out there and actually be in a real game where everybody was live and I could hit the quarterback," Babin said.

    The Texans' starters bolted to a quick lead on Kris Brown's 36-yard field goal and a 12-yard touchdown pass from Carr to Jabar Gaffney, the last play for most of Houston's offensive starters.

    Tony Hollings, who started because Domanick Davis was sidelined with minor injuries, ran for 57 yards on 15 carries and caught two passes for 32 yards. He led Houston in rushing and receiving, though he also fumbled twice.

    "That's one of the biggest mistakes you can make. I've got to do better on that," Hollings said. "I'm sure the coach will talk to me about that."

    Leading the Cowboys reserves onto the field in the second quarter was quarterback Drew Henson, the former Michigan star and New York Yankees prospect drafted by the Texans last year. Once he gave up baseball in February, the Texans traded him to Dallas for a 2005 third-round pick.

    Henson showed his ample promise on his second series when he completed his first four passes and drove the Cowboys to the Houston 9-yard line.

    Then Henson, who hadn't played a football game since the 2001 Citrus Bowl, fired a ball directly to Texans safety Jason Simmons near the goal line.

    The offense under Henson ate up most of the third quarter with a 10-play drive that stalled at the Houston 28. Billy Cundiff missed a 46-yard field goal wide left.

    Henson left late in the third quarter after going 8-of-11 for 94 yards. Tony Romo, who like Henson never has thrown a regular-season pass, finished for the Cowboys.

    Dallas rookie tailback Julius Jones didn't play until late in the second half, but still managed to lead the Cowboys with 57 yards rushing.

    Houston's final score came on a safety when Jeremy Slechta tackled Romo in the end zone.

    Notes: The paid Reliant Stadium attendance of 70,431 was the largest preseason showing in Houston pro football history. ... Ten Cowboys caught passes. Randal Williams led with 27 yards on his single reception. ... The game marked the Texans' first home preseason victory and their second overall. ... Texans rookie RB Jason Anderson went down late in the fourth quarter with a sprained right ankle.


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