NASHVILLE –The Cowboys know it's practically three points any time they cross the opponents' 30-yard line, as long as they don't make any critical errors.
That luxury for the Cowboys only exists because of kicker Dan Bailey, who was 4-for-4 on Sunday in Tennessee and hasn't missed this season.
"We felt before the game that Dan Bailey was going to have a lot of range today," said head coach Jason Garrett. "He really hit the ball well in warm-ups, so we were going to be generous with giving him opportunities, and he cashed in on every one of them."
They weren't chip shots, either.
All of Bailey's kicks went at least 40 yards, including two field goals from 48 yards and another that went 51 yards. All of the Cowboys' special teams units shined, but no one more than Bailey.
"I only have a side view of them, but they looked like they were going right down the pipe," Garrett said.
As for the other special teams units, punter Chris Jones averaged 55 yards per punt and didn't allow the Titans to break out in the return game. Dwayne Harris made a miraculous play jumping into the end zone and batting the ball back to down a punt on the Titans' 2-yard line. In addition, Bruce Carter partially blocked a punt and got close on a couple more attempts.
The Cowboys' kickoff coverage excelled as well, holding Leon Washington in check. Washington bobbled a kickoff return to open the second half, and the Cowboys held him inside the 10-yard line on the play.
"Special teams made a huge difference," Garrett said.
The Cowboys' defense didn't even have to be on the field for 20 minutes in Tennessee.
With two interceptions forced and only two third down conversions allowed on the day, the Cowboys' defense did its part in holding the Titans offense off the field. But DeMarco Murray and the offense's long drives also played a role the defense appreciates.
"You've got to give the hats off to the offensive line and DeMarco, the way they ran the ball," said Rolando McClain. "With 220 yards rushing for our offense, you can't ask for a better game for a defense. We've got time to sit on the sideline, go over checks and stay fresh and prepare to get back on the field. That played a tremendous part."
The Cowboys dominated time of possession, holding the ball for 41:11 of the 60 minutes and allowing the defense to rest for the majority of the game. Led by Murray's monster performance, the Dallas offense had twice as many first downs as Tennessee.
"He's the best running back in the world to me," said Barry Church. "That boy milking that clock, we only had to be out there that long. He's great, just having him there and able to keep the chains moving and running downhill. That offensive line and him together is just a great tandem."
Ground and Pound
Jason Witten didn't need an intimidating stat line to be all smiles after the win.
The Cowboys' offense completely controlled the line of scrimmage. An offense noted for its air attack in recent seasons may be taking a different form, running 43 times for 220 yards against the Titans.
"That's it, changing guards a little bit," Witten said. "But it's all good. I mean, it's week to week, and whatever it takes. This week was the week that we said we're going to keep everybody in and really try to set the edge and run the football. We'll have our runs at it in the pass game, too." [embedded_ad]
The Cowboys made it a point to feed DeMarco Murray, particularly after last week, when he wasn't given the opportunity to finish off drives despite running the ball well.
"We talked about it, getting down there and finishing drives with runs," Witten said. "We didn't do that last week, and we worked really hard on it. I thought we did good job of that this week making plays."
- Jack Crawford, Korey Toomer and Terrell McClain all suited up for the first time for the Cowboys.
- The Cowboys' longest pass and longest run both went 22 yards.
- Dallas' 220 rushing yards marked their most since rushing for 227 yards at Baltimore in 2012.
- For the second time in his career, Bailey has hit 26 field goals in a row. That ties for the second-longest streak in Cowboys history. He needs to nail his next field goal to tie Chris Boniol's team record.
- With 10 catches for 103 yards and a touchdown Sunday, Dez Bryant upped his career receptions total to 307, passing Doug Cosbie (300) and Miles Austin (301) on the club's all-time receptions list.
- Barry Church intercepted a Jake Locker pass in the second quarter today to give him his second career interception and give the club its first takeaway of the year.
- Rookie Anthony Hitchens made his first career start at weak side linebacker.
- Rolando McClain intercepted a Jake Locker pass in the fourth quarter to mark his second career interception.
- DeMarco Murray had 29 carries to reach 583 career rushing attempts, passing Felix Jones for 11th on the club's all-time list.
- Sunday marked the 13th time Murray had 20 or more carries in a game in his career. He rushed for 167 yards on 29 carries, marking the third-best rushing performance of his career. It also marked his second consecutive game with at least 100 rushing yards.