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(Sunday, September 13th)
Final Score: Dallas 34, Tampa Bay 21
Tampa, FL (Sports Network) - Tony Romo threw for a career-high 353 yards and three touchdowns on 16-of-27 passing to lead the Dallas Cowboys past the Buccaneers, 34-21, spoiling the head coaching debut of Tampa Bay's Raheem Morris in the season-opener for both teams.
Marion Barber added 79 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries for the Cowboys (1-0), who finished last season at 9-7 and will host the Giants next week. Patrick Crayton tallied 135 yards and a TD on four catches. Roy Williams had three catches, going for 86 yards and a score, while Miles Austin also had a 42-yard TD grab.
Byron Leftwich went 25-of-41 for 276 yards and a touchdown for the Bucs (0-1), who finished last season 9-7 and will play at Buffalo next week. Carnell Williams totaled 97 yards and a TD on 13 carries, while Derrick Ward amassed 62 yards and a score on 12 carries. Kellen Winslow had a touchdown catch in the setback, while Michael Clayton gained 93 yards on five catches.
"I was pleased with the coaches' communication and how we handled situations," said Morris. "On offense we put some big plays together, we just gotta score touchdowns."
Trailing 20-7 early in the fourth quarter, Ward ran in a one-yard score to cap an 84-yard drive and close it to 20-14.
However, on Dallas' next touch Romo hit a wide-open Crayton, who dashed 80 yards unscathed into the end zone to balloon the Cowboys' advantage to 27-14.
"Sometimes you gotta push the ball downfield a little," said Romo. "We just were taking what the defense gave us. We executed some pretty good plays today."
Barber added a six-yard TD run later in the fourth, but Winslow hauled in a two-yard scoring reception to account for the final margin.
Nick Folk hit a 51-yard field goal to give the Cowboys a 3-0 lead with about 9 1/2 minutes left in the opening stanza.
Dallas blocked Tampa Bay's 38-yard field goal attempt on the ensuing drive, and Mike Jenkins ran it back to the Tampa Bay 48. The Cowboys drove down the field but had to settle for a 22-yard field goal as the drive stalled.
Williams' 35-yard run down to the Dallas five highlighted an 11-play, 78-yard drive. Ward ran the next two plays before Williams punched in a one-yard TD to give the Bucs a 7-6 edge with just under 10 1/2 minutes left prior to the half.
With about a minute left in the half, Dallas started at its own 44. On the second play, Romo hit Austin on a pass and the receiver juked, spun and dashed 42 yards down the right sideline to the end zone to make it 13-7 at the break.
"Miles got overthrown on one (pass) and the other one he made a catch for a touchdown," said Roy Williams. "That's one of the things we wanted to do, we wanted to pound it and just make it hurt."
Tampa Bay was stopped on the first drive of the second half, and Dallas responded with a three-play drive that ended with Williams' 66-yard TD reception from Romo. The scoring strike down the middle of the field gave the visitors a 13-point lead, which held up through the third quarter.
Romo's 80-yard TD pass to Crayton was the longest of his career...Dallas improved to 27-4 when Barber has 11-plus carries...Winslow and Ward made their Bucs debuts.
09/13 17:59:15 ET