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McGee Impresses As Cowboys Edge Broncos 24-23

Dwayne Harris scores his game winning and second touchdown catch

While it is only preseason, NFL football is back. The Dallas Cowboys kicked off their 2011 NFL season with their preseason opener against the Denver Broncos in Cowboys Stadium Thursday night. Usually there isn’t a lot to get excited about in the preseason, but this game had a thrilling end.

Neither team’s first units were expected to get a lot of work and that held true as they each received a drive before turning it over the the second units. The Broncos first team offense looked in fine form as QB Kyle Orton and crew marched the ball down the field against Rob Ryan’s defense. Broncos running backs Knowshon Moreno and Willis McGahee doing most of the damage with 40 yards rushing on the opening possession. The Cowboys were starting without their top two corners as Mike Jenkins and Terrance Newman missed the game due to injuries. The Broncos got into the redzone but would have to settle for a field goal as the Cowboys defense stiffened.

The Cowboys first team offense faired the same. Driving the ball down the field and eventually stalling and having to settle for a field goal as well. Once the first team had grabbed a seat on the bench the game settled down and the guys who are fighting for spots on the rosters took over.

The game had it’s exciting parts and when the fourth quarter started, so did most of the scoring. The Cowboys and Broncos exchanged touchdowns like two boxers going back and fourth. The Broncos scored with 5:44 left in the fourth when Brady Quinn hit Eron Riley for the go ahead score. But, Stephen McGee who had a tremendous performance led the Cowboys down the field converting two clutch fourth downs and ending the drive with a touchdown pass to sixth round pick Dwayne Harris with only 0:15 seconds remaining. Not content with the tie, Jason Garrett went for two and Stephen McGee found TE Martin Rucker open in the end zone for the win.

It was a great finish to the first preseason game. For highlights of the game click here. There were many good performances from the Cowboys and their young players. Here are some players that stood out, and some that were too quiet:

Stand Outs

1. QB Stephen McGee – The third string quarterback’s poise and maturity were on display as he led three scoring drives. McGee had a rocky start, but once he settled down he looked like a confident leader who wanted to win. He finished 14 of 24 for 208 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception.

2. WR Dwayne Harris – The rookie wideout showed that he will provide some stiff competition for the third receiver spot. Harris showed great hands and explosive speed, and most importantly, a nose for the end zone. He had 5 receptions for 125 yards (1 for 76 yards), and 2 touchdowns.

3. LB Victor Butler – While the fourth year linebacker wasn’t in the game long, when he was he was all over the field. He should have had two sacks if it weren’t for some rusty tackling. Butler showed great explosiveness off the ball, and some impressive pass rush ability.

4. RT Tyron Smith – The first overall pick was solid. There were a couple of plays were he didn’t get his hands on anyone, but all in all he had a good game. If he did get his hands on someone, they went no where. He is an impressive athlete for such a big guy.

Other notables: WR Raymond Radway and RB Phillip Tanner.

Need To Improve:

1. RB Lonyae Miller – While we heard that Miller was having a good camp, he didn’t show it on Thursday. He had 8 carries for 10 yards, and while he had poor blocking in front of him, he showed little quickness and power. Miller also spent too much time running parallel to the line of scrimmage instead of towards it.

2. WR Kevin Ogletree – It wasn’t a bad game for Ogletree, when he had chances he made the play, but he didn’t have that many chances. Whether he wasn’t getting open or just didn’t have his number called, I hoped to see more from him. After all, he is supposed to be the leading candidate for the third receiving spot.

3. LB Sean Lee – Lee started for the injured Keith Brooking and only played one series. On that series he missed a clean shot on Knowshon Moreno, who bounced off him because he failed to wrap up. Lee will need to tackle better if he is to overtake Brooking.

The Cowboys have Friday off before getting back to work on Saturday. Their next preseason game is Sunday August 21st in San Diego.

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