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Cowboys look good vs. Titans

Posted: Tuesday, August 31, 2004

IRVING, Texas Vinny Testaverde and Keyshawn Johnson were hooking up again like old times. But Eddie George did nothing against his old team.

Testaverde completed 17 of 24 passes for 240 yards and his first touchdown of the preseason, and Johnson had eight catches for 81 yards as the Dallas Cowboys beat Tennessee 20-17 Monday night.

It was the best game so far for Testaverde and Johnson, teammates in 1998 when the New York Jets went to the AFC title game. The quarterback and receiver reunited with coach Bill Parcells during the offseason.

Neither played in the second half, when RaShard Lee scored the go-ahead touchdown for the Cowboys (2-1) with a 6-yard run.

George had just 3 yards on four carries against the Titans (2-1), who got touchdown runs from Chris Brown and Antowain Smith. George is that franchise's career rushing leader, with 10,009 yards the past eight seasons.

Smith, signed by Tennessee the day after George was released over a salary dispute just before camp, scored on a 1-yard run 1:13 before halftime to put the Titans ahead 14-10.

Brown had eight carries for 35 yards, including a strong 18-yard run to end the Titans' opening drive. After hitting a wall on the right side, Brown reversed field and found an open gap. He had to get by only one player, knocking down Pro Bowl safety Roy Williams with a stiff arm and scoring with ease.

''That's what we need, explosiveness and the ability to cut it back and score,'' said quarterback Steve McNair, who was 7-of-10 passing for 85 yards in his four series.

Brown has averaged 5.9 yards per carry, gaining 142 yards on 24 carries during the preseason. McNair has completed 20 of 27 passes for 232 yards with two touchdowns.

While the Cowboys used Monday as a dress rehearsal for the regular season, playing most starters into the second half, Tennessee will do that Friday night against Green Bay. Dallas plays again Thursday against Kansas City.

Testaverde, the 40-year-old who became the Cowboys' starter when Quincy Carter was released less than a week into camp, led the first-team offense to a touchdown for the first time in 11 preseason possessions.

After Eric Ogbogu blocked Joe Nedney's 46-yard field goal attempt, Testaverde needed just three plays to move the Cowboys 66 yards against a defense primarily consisting of second-teamers. He completed passes of 11 and 38 yards to Terry Glenn before finding Dan Campbell for a 10-7 lead.

Billy Volek then replaced McNair, completing a 62-yard pass to Tramon Douglas, who reached across safety Tony Dixon to grab the ball. Two plays later, Smith scored.

Aided by four Testaverde completions and a 35-yard pass interference penalty by Mike Echols, the Cowboys then set up Billy Cundiff's second field goal, a 19-yarder on the final play of the half.

Even with Testaverde's 240 yards passing and finally a touchdown, there were still several mistakes.

The Cowboys offense was penalized four times for 30 yards, with another illegal motion penalty declined, in the first half. There was also Testaverde's interception near the goal line.

On the drive before their first touchdown, the Cowboys moved to the Tennessee 15. Testaverde's pass intended for Glenn was intercepted by linebacker Keith Bulluck, who leaped up for a two-handed grab.

George was stuffed for 1-yard losses on his first and last carries, all coming in the first quarter. His best run was a 3-yard gain on which he was stopped by Bulluck.

''It doesn't really matter. It's a preseason game,'' Bulluck said. ''We just came to get better, whether or not he was playing.''

Lee's TD run with 19 seconds left in the third quarter ended Drew Henson's second drive after replacing Testaverde, giving Dallas a 20-14 lead.



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