Game Notes: Jones Leads Thriving Running Game

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Before Sunday's game, only five players had rushed for at least 100 yards at what is now known as LP Field in the last seven years.

Julius Jones now makes six.

The Cowboys' third-year back notched his first 100-yard game of the season, and the offense surpassed 200 rushing yards for the first time since Dec. 24, 2005, at Carolina - its only 200-yard game last season.

"Feels good, first one of the year," Jones said of his 122-yard effort after the Cowboys' 45-14 win over Tennessee. "Got it under my belt and now we'll see if we can keep them going."

Jones led the way with 122 yards on 23 carries, and backups Marion Barber and Tyson Thompson combined for 73 yards on 14 carries. All three scored a touchdown Sunday, the first time since Dec. 10, 2000, the Cowboys had three different players with rushing touchdowns. But that time, the touchdowns were accounted for by Emmitt Smith and two wide receivers, Wayne McGarity anhd Jason Tucker.

Factor in Terry Glenn's 22-yard reverse in the third quarter, and the Cowboys gained 217 yards rushing and averaged 5.3 yards per carry against a Titans team which has allowed the fifth-fewest yards in the league since 1995. The 217 rushing yards represented the most by the Cowboys since Dec. 14, 2003, when they had 222 against Washington.

"We kind of took that as a challenge as a team," Jones said of the Titans' past success against the run. "The offensive line made room everywhere for us. All three backs ran hard - me, Tyson and Marion. Credit the offensive line today."

Jones rushed for 72 and 94 yards in the Cowboys' first two games, but head coach Bill Parcells doesn't want him to carry the load by himself. He would like Barber and Thompson to establish a steady rotation with his lead guy.

The Cowboys did that Sunday, wearing down Tennessee's defensive line and knifing up the middle for several big gains.

"We just figured if we could get those big guys handled up front, then get to the second level, then we could do the rest," Jones said.

Scary Moment

The left side of his face stitched and swollen, center Andre Gurode looked like he'd been in a boxing match rather than a football game after the Cowboys' 31-point victory.

In the moments after Julius Jones' third-quarter touchdown run, Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth kicked a helmet-less Gurode twice, the second time intentionally scraping his cleats across Gurode's face to open up several gashes.

Haynesworth initially was called for a personal foul for the offense, but wasn't ejected until after removing his helmet and throwing it to the ground in response to the penalty. Cowboys trainers escorted Gurode to the locker room, where he received several stitches above his forehead and just below his left eye to repair multiple cuts.

Haynesworth was left to go to the Titans locker room on his own, and after the game Titans head coach Jeff Fisher apologized to Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells and vowed to discipline Haynesworth if the league didn't sufficiently do so first.

Gurode came back to the sideline later in the quarter, but did not return to the game.

"There's no place for that in this game," quarterback Drew Bledsoe said of Haynesworth's actions, which could result in a fine and/or suspension from the league.

Gurode said he didn't have any clashes with Haynesworth prior to the incident.

"I was just out there playing football," he said.

Prior to his injury, Gurode had played a significant role in the Cowboys' run game success. The offensive line also didn't allow a sack on Bledsoe.

"I hate to see that," Cowboys owner-general manager Jerry Jones said of Gurode's injury. "There's a lot of me that feels bad for Jeff (Fisher) and feels bad for Tennessee and all the fans because I know how that would feel if it happened to a player with the Cowboys."

Steady Glenn

The Titans' offense has struggled to score points this season, and Terry Glenn only added more pressure in the first half.

Glenn caught a pair 13-yard touchdown passes to give Dallas a 14-3 lead early in the second quarter. Tennessee never got any closer than the halftime score of 14-6.

Glenn finished with five catches for 54 yards, but his two scores made the difference.

"It was just plays that we worked on during the week," Glenn said. "We thought they were very susceptible to the motion down in the red area. The first one I kind of came in motion, kind of got up on the safety, gave him a little move and Drew threw an outstanding pass."

Promising Future

Cowboys owner-general manager Jerry Jones drew a simple conclusion from watching Titans quarterback Vince Young in his first NFL start.

"I'm glad he's not in our division," Jones said. "I'm glad he's not in our conference."

The Cowboys' defense forced Young into committing three turnovers (two interceptions, one lost fumble), and he completed just 14-of-29 passes for 155 yards and a touchdown. But Jones believes Young, the No. 3 overall pick out of the University of Texas, will only get better with more starts.

"I knew coming out that he was in the top three or four competitors that I'd seen ever come through the draft," Jones said.

Game Points

  • Inside linebacker Bradie James put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter with a 15-yard interception return for a touchdown, the first of his career. James' return made the score 38-14 with 8:23 left.
  • Trailing 14-6, the Titans had a chance to score on the opening drive of the third quarter until Cowboys cornerback Aaron Glenn made a crucial diving interception. The Cowboys then reeled off two straight touchdowns and never looked back. "The first drive was, I think, a pivotal drive in the game because we had to stop them," James said. "If they had went down and scored we'd have been going back and forth."
  • The following Cowboys players were inactive: Suisham, rookie receiver Miles Austin, cornerback Nate Jones, rookie linebacker and first-round pick Bobby Carpenter; defensive tackle J'Vonne Parker, guard Cory Procter; rookie offensive tackle Pat McQuistan and receiver Jamaica Rector.
  • Cornerback Terence Newman and receiver Patrick Crayton combined on punt returns. Newman had a dazzling 20-yard return, but his second return netted only one yard because he accidentally slammed into teammate Kevin Burnett.
  • For proof of the Cowboys' offensive success, Mat McBriar punted once for 40 yards, and that represented the fewest punts in a game since Nov. 12, 2000, when they didn't even punt once against Cincinnati.
  • The 31 second-half points matched the second most in club history, following only the 36 scored against Green Bay on Thanksgiving of 1994. The Cowboys also scored 31 second-half twice during the 1968 season, against Philadelphia and Washington.

Short Shots

Flying under the radar on Sept. 2, the day of the final roster cuts, was veteran corner Aaron Glenn signing a one-year extension through 2007. Glenn was entering the last year of a two-year deal . . . Bledsoe threw a touchdown pass in his ninth straight game, the second-longest streak in the league behind Arizona's Kurt Warner . . . Cowboys owner-general manager Jerry Jones had some fun with Titans fans sitting directly below his open-air suite, signing memorabilia tossed up to him . . . The Titans' franchise is 0-4 for the first time since 1984 . . . Former Houston Oilers quarterback Warren Moon was inducted into the Oilers-Titans Hall of Fame and had his No. 1 jersey retired on Sunday. Moon, who played 10 years with Houston before the franchise relocated to Tennessee, joined Troy Aikman in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2006 back in August.

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