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Dolphins Beat Cowboys 17-3 In Preseason Finale

Cowboys quarterback Stephen McGee is sacked by linebacker Jason Trusnik of the Dolphins during the first half Thrusday

The Miami Dolphins were able to capitalize on three big Cowboy mistakes to take the preseason finale 17-3 in a very wet and drizzly Thursday night matchup. The Dolphins managed to get three big plays on a night where most of the starters from both teams did not play. The final preseason game is always a chance for “bubble” players and rookies to put in one final performance for the coaches to think about before cut down day on Saturday.

The Dolphins started the game with a quick three-and-out aided by a stingy Dallas defense. The Cowboys offense started much more efficiently when quarterback Stephen McGee found, Cowboys rookie, DeMarco Murray on a screen pass that Murray turned into a 48-yard reception. The Cowboys continued the drive inside the Miami 5-yardline before Stephen McGee floated a pass for Martin Rucker in the corner of the end zone that was picked off by Miami’s Tyrone Culver. The Dolphins turned that interception into points when, aging veteran, Larry Johnson stiff armed his way to a 22-yard touchdown run.

McGee and the Cowboys answered back a couple of drives later as they drove down the field, largely on the ground behind Phillip Tanner and DeMarco Murray, but had to settle for a David Beuhler 20-yard field goal. That would be all the scoring for the first half. The Cowboys had very little trouble moving the ball on the Dolphins, but were unable to turn those drives into significant points.

The third quarter started the same for the Cowboys. They took the ball 50 yards on their opening possession of the quarter only to watch, newly acquired kicker Dave Rayner, miss a 51-yard attempt. The Dolphins jumped on the opportunity, aided by a big Matt Moore to Clyde Gates 42-yard reception. Gates, a speedster from Abilene Christian, had blown past Cowboys rookie Chris Randle to haul in the pass. The Gates reception set up a 18-yard touchdown strike from Moore to, backup tight end, Jeron Mastrud. Mastrud took advantage of a Kenwin Cummings blown coverage to stroll, untouched, into the end zone.

Miami would add another field goal as the Cowboys offense was unable to do anything with the yards they were putting up. The Cowboys would go on to miss two more field goals before the final whistle blew, sealing the Dolphins 17-3 victory. For highlights click here.

The night was overshadowed by an injury to Cowboys rookie Raymond Radway. Radway looked to have fallen awkwardly on his left leg and was carted off the field with only :03 seconds left in the fourth quarter. The injury is sure to land Radway on the injured reserve list, as the Cowboys likely want to keep the receiver around. It is assumed Radway would try to be smuggled onto the Cowboys practice roster to get some polishing ahead of next year. After making three solid receptions during the game, it looks like Radway will have to wait a year before trying to earn a roster spot.

It was also a terrible night for Cowboys kickers, David Beuhler and Dave Rayner. Each missed a kick, with Rayner missing two (51, 36). Beuhler made his first from 20 yards out but then missed a 48-yarder in the second half. The biggest mystery to this Cowboys roster might be who their kicker is come opening day.

Rookie running back Phillip Tanner got an endorsement from owner, general manager Jerry Jones, who appreciated the rookie’s hard work and dedication saying, “You don’t tell a player like that he won’t make the team…you just don’t,” Jones said during the Cowboys broadcast.

Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones, and Jason Garrett will have a lot of tough decisions to make for Saturday’s deadline. Unfortunately, not many players gave them much to think about in this one.

Players Who Impressed:

1. QB Stephen McGee – McGee had the one pass that he would like to have back on the interception, but other than that, he showed poise and good decision making going 21-25 for 233 yards.

2. RB Phillip Tanner – The kid runs hard. He showed a great burst and patience to the hole. When Murray and Miller weren’t getting yards, Tanner came in and provided a spark.

3. LB Alex Albright – He didn’t get a sack but he made some good plays that should not get overlooked. He was always around the ball.

4. WR Manny Johnson – Easily McGee’s most reliable target on Thursday. Johnson caught everything near him.

5. S Barry Church – After seeing his preseason, I’m not sure bringing back Gerald Sensabaugh was necessary. Church is all over the field and seems to be a sure tackler. Really good effort tonight.

Players Who Failed To Impress:

1. CB Chris Randle – Randle was a long shot to make the team, but he got burned a number of times for some big plays Thursday.

2. S Akwasi Owusu-Ansah – The second year man did not do much to improve his chances of sticking around. He is a good athlete but just can’t seem to make a play. He did poorly on returns, and didn’t hardly show up on defense.

3. Beuhler & Rayner – They may have just given the job to rookie Dan Bailey. Both guys were not impressive and the Cowboys have to be anxious about their kicking situation.

4. RB Lonyae Miller – I think Miller played his last game as a Cowboy. He continued to struggle running the ball and didn’t show up on special teams. For all the rave reviews coming out of San Antonio, he has really disappointed under the lights.

Cut down day is Saturday so stay tuned to see who makes the final 53-man roster.

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