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