- The Washington Times - Friday, November 25, 2005

IRVING, Texas — Maybe all Ron Dayne needed was a chance.

Filling in for injured Tatum Bell, Dayne rumbled 55 yards on the second play of overtime and Jason Elam followed with a 24-yard field goal to give the Denver Broncos a 24-21 victory over the Dallas Cowboys yesterday in a game that lived up to its billing.

Two teams near the top of their conferences fought hard and close for more than four quarters, with the margin never wider than a touchdown. Both defenses came up with big plays and each team downed a punt inside the 2. There was a close call by the officials, and the Cowboys missed a go-ahead field-goal try midway through the fourth quarter.

“I’m disappointed with the outcome, I’m not disappointed with the effort,” Dallas coach Bill Parcells said. “We just have to regroup a little bit.”

Denver (9-2) never trailed in winning its fourth straight, but the Broncos were hardly in control. Their running game struggled until Dayne’s big burst and Jake Plummer threw his first interception since Week 2.

The Cowboys (7-4) had their three-game winning streak snapped and, like all their other losses, this one was decided late. Their four losses are by a total of 13 points, with the last two coming on game-ending field goals.

Billy Cundiff missed a chance to put Dallas ahead when he pulled a 34-yard field goal wide left with 7:42 left in regulation. The Cowboys had the ball twice more in the final 4:32 of regulation, but punted once and time ran out on them the other time.

The Broncos won the overtime coin toss and opened with a 7-yard pass to Charlie Adams. Then, on second-and-3 from the 39, Dayne bowled through the left side of the line, pulled away from a would-be tackler around the 50 and kept going until he was dragged down from behind at the 6.

Denver called timeout, then went straight to Elam. The kick was perfect and the Broncos let out a huge sigh of relief.

Winning on the road was big for Denver. The Broncos improved to 3-2 away from home, with three of their remaining five games on the road. They need to win as many as possible for any hope of catching undefeated Indianapolis for home-field advantage in the playoffs.

Dayne finished with 98 yards on seven carries, his best game since Sept. 30, 2001, when he was in his second year with the New York Giants. The 1999 Heisman Trophy winner came in with only 53 yards rushing all season and hadn’t carried the ball since Oct. 2. He hadn’t even cracked 80 yards in a game since 2002.

“Being able to help the team win is all I can ask for,” Dayne said. “I haven’t been upset about not playing. I just wanted to show the stuff I have. It was a lot of fun.”

Bell, who grew up in a Dallas suburb, sat out with a bruised chest. He was listed as questionable all week and had said he wanted to play. His average of 6.0 yards per carry is the best in the NFL.

Without him, Denver had only 89 yards rushing in regulation. The passing game wasn’t much more productive, with a long of 24 yards. Before Dayne’s big play, the Broncos had picked up only one first down since going ahead 21-14 on the first drive of the second half.

Plummer was 15-for-24 for 162 yards, with a touchdown pass to Rod Smith. His franchise-record streak of passes without an interception ended at 229 when Terence Newman picked him off in the second quarter.

Drew Bledsoe was 29-for-44 for 232 yards for Dallas, with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Champ Bailey snagged the first and returned it 65 yards for a touchdown minutes into the game.

Bledsoe tied it at 7 with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Keyshawn Johnson, at 14 with a 1-yard plunge on fourth down and at 21 with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Jason Witten. Dallas’ last two scores came off Denver turnovers.

The close one was a fumble by Mike Anderson on the opening play of the fourth quarter. Officials ruled that Newman scooped it up at the 10 before rolling out of bounds, but it was hard to tell.

The Broncos couldn’t challenge because they’d used up their challenges questioning spots of the ball in the first half.

Witten tied his career high with nine catches and had 82 yards. Johnson had 59 yards on six catches.

The Cowboys also struggled to run, with Julius Jones gaining 55 yards and Marion Barber III only 28.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide