The Cowboys went old school in their impressive 26-10 victory over Tennessee, using a grinding rushing attack, solid specials teams and another good performance from the defense to come away with their first win of the season.
With an emphasis on running the rock early, Dallas saw DeMarco Murray post 167 rushing yards in the game on just 29 carries, an average of 5.76 yards per attempt. Overall, Dallas ran for 220 yards total, compared to just 148 passing.
Murray topped the century mark in the second quarter when the Cowboys ran the ball on 12 of their 21 plays, which led to 13 unanswered points. And, he led the charge on the team's first touchdown of the game. Already up 3-0 and set up on the Titans' 40-yard line after a Barry Church interception, he was handed the ball on four straight snaps. In response, he ripped off runs of 18, 6 and 13 yards before lunging the ball forward across the goal line from 3 yards out to put Dallas up 10-0.
The Cowboys then tacked on two more field goals before halftime as Bailey was good from 44 and 51 yards to stay perfect on the year, the second coming with only nine seconds left in the half after Dwayne Harris returned a punt 15 yards to give Dallas field position at the Tennessee 48-yard line.
Likewise, the Dallas defense was equally impressive through the first 30 minutes of the game, as the unit shut out the Titans while limiting them to just two first downs and 68 yards of total offense. They even produced their first turnover of the season with the pick by Church, who made a diving interception of an overthrown Jake Locker pass.
Things got interesting after the half, though, when Tennessee came out and promptly scored on their first two possessions of the third quarter with a 47-yard field goal by Ryan Succop and a big 61-yard touchdown from Locker to tight end Delanie Walker that narrowed the gap to a one possession game, 16-10.
But Dallas responded with another touchdown, this time doing their damage through the air, as Tony Romo guided the team on a 12-play 80-yard drive, he and Dez Bryant connecting five times during the series. The last was a dart to the right side of the end zone after Bryant created separation (some would say pushed off) to then haul in the pass for the score and an again-comfortable 23-10 lead.
Despite Murray getting most of the accolades, Bryant was equally as dangerous, as he finished with 103 yards receiving on 10 catches. And while Romo still didn't always look sharp, he was definitely better than last week, managing to throw for 176 yards on 19-of-29 passing with one touchdown, and perhaps more importantly, not throwing any interceptions.
Whatever thoughts the Titans had about coming back were quashed on Tennessee's next possession. Though the home team was driving, Henry Melton tipped a pass at the line of scrimmage, which was then followed by linebacker Rolando McClain making an acrobatic catch that was originally ruled incomplete. But after head coach Jason Garrett threw the red flag, the play was overturned upon review and Dallas had the ball. [embedded_ad]
McClain's effort led to Bailey's fourth field goal, the Cowboys wrapping up their scoring for the day.
Through two games so far, McClain has proven a steal for the Cowboys as he led the team in tackles against the Titans and had a sack in addition to the pick. Behind his effort, Dallas limited its opponent to 314 total yards for the afternoon, punctuating the defensive effort by keeping Tennessee out of the end zone on fourth-and goal from the Dallas 6-yard line with just more than six minutes remaining.
With that, the Titans never saw the ball again, as Dallas pounded their way down the field, eating up the remainder of the clock to secure the victory and improve their record to 1-1 on the season. They'll next travel to St. Louis to take on the Rams before returning home to face the Saints on Sept. 28.