5 reasons Cowboys beat Dolphins 24-20

Playing in the Hall of Fame game offers some benefits, even
though most teams could do without five exhibition matches and an
extra chance for key guys to get hurt.

For the Dallas Cowboys, their 24-20 victory Sunday night over
Miami was all about the kids.

And for the Dolphins, it was a sloppy mess, not nearly as close
as the final score.

Here are five reasons the Cowboys left Fawcett Stadium with
reasons to smile, and the Dolphins wore worried looks:

1. YOUTH SHALL BE SERVED: Although a few Dallas regulars got
onto the field for some snaps, the night was all about getting a
look at dozens of untested players. Among those who stood out while
Tony Romo, DeMarcus Ware, Jason Witten and Sean Lee looked on from
the sideline were rookie linebacker Devonte Holloman; inexperienced
running backs Phillip Tanner and Lance Dunbar, plus rookies Joseph
Randle and Kendial Lawrence; and rookie linebacker Taylor Reed.

”Any time you can give young players an extra chance to play in
a game, they grow,” Garrett said. ”With an extra preseason game,
it makes sense to give those young guys an opportunity to
play.”

Holloman, a sixth-round pick from South Carolina, was perfectly
situated when rookie Chad Bumphis had Matt Moore’s pass go off his
hands in the second quarter. Holloman sped down the left sideline
for a 75-yard score.

Tanner did the bulk of the early work and finished with 59 yards
rushing and a touchdown. Joseph Randle handled the late duty and
had 70 yards. Dunbar added 22 on just four carries as Dallas piled
up 170 yards rushing even with top running back DeMarco Murray
idle.

”We’re trying to get an identity as a group,” Tanner said.
”We had `Coach’ DeMarco on the sideline telling us to just go out
and play.”

2. MIAMI MISTAKES: This was the Miami Unsound Machine until very
late in the game. A botched handoff from starting quarterback Ryan
Tannehill to Lamar Miller on the team’s first offensive play set up
Tanner’s TD. Then Bumphis, who otherwise had a strong game with
five catches for 85 yards, misplayed Moore’s pass and Holloman took
it the other way. Those were the only turnovers.

And when the Dolphins had a shot in the final minutes, they
allowed a 32-yard completion from Alex Tanney to Jared Green,
leading to Lawrence’s 7-yard TD spurt.

”We talked a lot about taking the ball away, we’ve talked a lot
about ball security, and we’ve spent a lot of practice time,”
coach Joe Philbin said, ”but it didn’t show up on the field
tonight.”

3. COMMUNICATING IN BIG D: Even though the Cowboys are
converting to a 4-3 alignment under new defensive coordinator Monte
Kiffin, things looked pretty smooth for most of the game.

Even though offensive coordinator Bill Callahan is calling plays
now instead of head coach Jason Garrett, well, things looked pretty
smooth for most of the game.

”I thought we handled the mechanics of the game real well,”
Garrett said.

4. HALL OF FAME INSPIRATION: The Cowboys wanted to show their
best stuff – at least as much as they could with so few veterans
playing – in front of former offensive lineman Larry Allen and
former coach Bill Parcells, who were inducted into the Pro Football
Hall of Fame on Saturday.

Sure, Parcells also ran the front office for the Dolphins for a
short time, but his connection with the Cowboys as an on-field boss
was much stronger.

5. CANTON IS NOT A GOOD PLACE FOR DOLPHINS: Miami is now 0-4 in
the Hall of Fame game, also having lost in 1978 to Philadelphia,
2001 to St. Louis, and 2005 to Chicago. But here’s something for
Dolphins fans to cherish: The team finished with a winning record
in all of those seasons.

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org