Dolphins settle for FGs, lose 20-19 at Cowboys
ARLINGTON, Texas—The Miami Dolphins kicked, scratched and clawed -- and even made plays when the Dallas Cowboys did that to them.
Tony Romo was on the run all day, and the Dolphins picked off the Dallas quarterback twice.
Problem was, the Dolphins had to settle for too many field goals and lost 20-19 on Dan Bailey's 28-yard field goal as time expired on Thanksgiving Day to end their three-game winning streak.
"It doesn't come down to the end of the game, but we did play our hearts out," Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said. "It ended up being field goals kind of back and forth, and at the end of the game there, they made a couple of plays more than we did. Up until that point, it was a pretty good give and take."
Miami (3-8) had to settle for field goals all four times they got to the Cowboys 10 or closer, and got its only touchdown when Brandon Marshall made an impressive 35-yard catch in the third quarter. Cornerback Terence Newman had grabbed Marshall around the neck and was tackling him while the ball was still in the air.
Romo hadn't thrown an interception in November before two picks in the first quarter Thursday. But the Dolphins managed only one field goal off those, and Romo kept making plays that helped the Cowboys (7-4) win their fourth consecutive game.
Right after Marshall put Miami up 16-10, defensive end Randy Starks was grabbing Romo when the quarterback let go of the ball that appeared headed toward Vontae Davis, who already had an interception. Jason Witten instead stepped in front to make the play.
With another defender wrapped around his leg, Romo then flicked a pass to DeMarco Murray for 17 yards and a first down. There was a wobbly pass under pressure to Witten for a first down before Romo scrambled away from pressure to hit Laurent Robinson for an 18-yard touchdown.
"For the whole day pretty much we did a good job, but he made some plays," safety Yeremiah Bell said. "We got pressure on him all night. He's a guy that gets out of the pocket and makes plays. He made plays tonight and we didn't, and it ended up hurting us."
The Dolphins went back ahead on Shayne Graham's fourth field goal, a 23-yarder with 7:14 left, then forced a punt.
But Miami had to kick again, this time punting with 3 minutes left after going three-and-out. The Dolphins didn't get another chance. Dallas drove 54 yards in 10 plays for Bailey's field goal, his second game-winner in five days.
"We're just finding ways to win," Romo said.
The Dolphins' defense didn't allow a touchdown during the three-game winning streak. They allowed two on Thursday, but the Cowboys only had to go 5 yards for one just before halftime after a snap went through Matt Moore's hands and was recovered by DeMarcus Ware.
Miami's offense needed to score more than field goals.
"When you come into somebody else's place, those (deep drives) have got to be touchdowns," Sparano said. "They've been touchdowns the last few weeks and that's why you win."
Eighteen years after these teams played another Thanksgiving game decided on a last-second field goal -- one best remembered for Leon Lett's gaffe on snow and ice -- conditions were so balmy that the glass end-zone doors at Cowboys Stadium were opened for the first time all season.
After Dallas took a 10-6 halftime lead, things got plenty interesting after halftime. Moore led Miami on three straight scoring drives of at least 70 yards and they weren't completely shut down until their final drive.
"That's the point in the game where you need to make a play," Moore said. "We didn't, and it's as simple as that."
Dez Bryant then had a 20-yard punt return to set up the drive on which Bailey made his 26th field goal in a row, one shy of the club record. .
"That's what they are paying me to do, I guess -- to go out there and make kicks," Bailey said.
Romo ended a streak of 128 straight passes without an interception, but he completed 22 of 34 for 226 yards even while being on the move so much. He threw a 5-yard TD pass to Robinson after the fumbled snap by Miami just before halftime.
"He just kind of kept hanging in there," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "I thought he moved in the pocket really well. In critical situations, he ... allowed us to make plays."
Moore was 19 of 32 for 288 yards and a touchdown. He was sacked four times.
Reggie Bush ran 16 times for 61 yards and had 35 more on three receptions. Marshall had 103 yards on five catches, his 18th career 100-yard game.
"We don't get any style points for a loss," Sparano said. "We'll string some more together here, we'll get back at it. I told them I was proud of them."
NOTES: The Cowboys improved to 28-15-1 on Thanksgiving. Romo is 5-0 on the holiday; he missed last year's game -- which Dallas lost -- with a broken collarbone. ... Graham, who was among Bailey's competition for the Dallas job in the preseason, made FGs of 23, 26, 27 and 28 yards. ... The 35-yard TD from Moore to Marshall tied the longest TD reception for the Dolphins this season.