The Dallas Cowboys faced off against the Miami Dolphins and mother nature last night, losing to them both. The Dolphins defeated the Cowboys, 17-3, in their final preseason game of the year. And even though Dallas played the game in the sunshine state, all they got was rain. Despite the harsh conditions, the game served it’s purpose as the final auditions for those players “on the bubble” and looking to make it past this Saturday’s 53 man roster cuts.
The game started off with a bang as rookie running back DeMarco Murray took a screen pass 48 yards into Dolphin territory. It was an impressive night for Murray who finished the game as Dallas’ rushing and receiving leader. He had 10 carries for 32 yards and 4 receptions with 64 yards. He definitely made his case for replacing the injured Tashard Choice as Felix Jones’ primary back-up.
Further complicating things for Choice was the play of rookie running back Phillip Tanner. He also played well with 6 carries for 28 yards rushing. Outside of the stats, GM & Owner Jerry Jones all but guaranteed Tanner a spot on the final 53 man roster during a third quarter interview. Combined with his earlier statements about the Cowboys only intending to keep three running backs in the regular season, one has to wonder about the future of Tashard Choice.
One of the more confusing competitions for a roster spot is at the kicker position. With five kickers currently on the team, it’s anyone’s guess who will make the final cut. But that confusion cleared up some with the dismal performance by the kickers in tonight’s game. Last year’s starter, Dave Buehler, didn’t help his chances much tonight as he missed a 48 yarder. He did manage to hit a 20 yard field goal, the only score of the game for the Boys. And the newly signed veteran David Rayner didn’t fair much better. He missed both of his field goal attempts (51, 36). Now, you could blame their performances on the rain and muddy field conditions. But it didn’t seem to bother Miami’s Dave Carpenter as he booted a 50 yard field goal with perfect accuracy.
Quarterback Stephen McGee had an efficient game, finishing 21 of 25, with 233 yards passing. But he illustrated that he still has a long way to go as a poor passing decision early in the first quarter lead to an interception in the end zone. Other player performances of note were wide receiver Manuel Johnson (4 rec, 35yds) and tight end Martin Rucker (5 rec, 57yds). Both improved their chances of making it on the final roster.
There was also a small moral victory to be had for Rob Ryan’s newly installed defense. After allowing the Dolphins into the red zone during the 4th quarter, the Cowboy’s defense was able to stuff a 4th down and goal attempt by Miami. The Dolphins were forced to turn the ball over on their own 1 yard line.
On a somber note, free agent acquisition Raymond Radway was injured during the final seconds of the game. Radway was attempting to make a leaping catch in the end zone when he broke both the tibia and fibula of his left leg. The wide receiver was scheduled to have emergency surgery this morning and is expected to missed the rest of the season. Radway, who was signed out of Abilene Christian, had an impressive camp and finished the game with 3 receptions for 62 yards.
Despite leading Miami in time of possession, 389 to 278, Dallas recorded their second loss of the preseason. Making the Boy’s overall record 2-2. Dallas’ next game will start off their regular season. It will be on Sunday, September 11th, against the New York Jets.