CLEVELAND—At least it was better than the preseason.
Or was it?
The Browns gave up nearly 500 yards in total yards as they lost their ninth opener in 10 attempts, 28-10 to the Cowboys. The Cowboys built a 21-7 first half lead and went on to win.
Tony Romo threw for 320 yards and a touchdown and the Cowboys rushing attacked accounted for 167 yards to give the Cowboys 487 yards in total offense.
Things started bad for the Browns before the game even began as it was announced that Donte Stallworth injured his groin before the game and was unable to play. With Joshua Cribbs already inactive, the Browns had just three healthy receivers in Braylon Edwards, Syndric Steptoe and fresh-off-the-practice squad signee Steve Sanders.
The Browns received the opening kickoff and were moving the ball on their first drive but Derek Anderson fumbled the snap on third-and-one in Cowboys' territory and the Browns had to punt.
After the punt, the Cowboys moved 80 yards for a touchdown in 10 plays to take a 7-0 lead with 6:40 to play in the first quarter. Marion Barber went over the top from one-yard out. The Cowboys were faced with a third-and-9 but Romo hit Jason Witten for the first down. Another key play was when Romo hit Terrell Owens for 13 yards and Witten for 22. The Cowboys had the ball 5:15 on the drive and Romo was 5-of-5 for 66 yards.
The Browns came back with a 16 play drive that consumed 8:57 to tie the game at 7-7 as Anderson hit Kellen Winslow with a two-yard touchdown pass with 12:43 to play in the first half. It looked as though the Browns would go three-and-out on their second possession, but a personal foul on Orlando Scandrick on third down gave the Browns a first down. On first down, Anderson tried to hit Edwards on a fly and after Edwards got behind former Brown Anthony Henry he had the ball go off his hands. Anderson hit Kellen Winslow for 17 yards to the Cowboys' 33. Anderson hit Edwards for 12 to the 24 after Lewis had been tackled for a loss. Anderson hit Steve Heiden for a first down and a nine-yard gain to the 15 on third down.
On third-and-goal, Anderson tried to hit Edwards on a slant but Adam Jones tackled Edwards for a pass interference penalty and the Browns had a first down on the one. On second down, Anderson rolled to the right and hit a wide open Winslow for the score. The Cowboys had three key penalties to keep drives going.
The Cowboys struck quickly and took a 14-7 lead with 9:48 to play as Romo hit Owens for a 35-yard score as Owens got behind Brandon McDonald. It took them just four plays to go 69 yards in 2:55.
After stopping the Browns, the Cowboys had the ball prior to the half and scored from one-yard out as Barber went in for his second score to give the Cowboys a 21-7 lead with 26 seconds to play in the half. The Cowboys went 69 yards in 10 plays in 5:36.
After stopping the Cowboys on their initial possession of the second half, the Browns were unable to do anything on offense.
The Cowboys got the ball back and extended their lead to 28-7 with 6:24 to play in the third quarter as rookie Felix Jones broke loose from 11 yards for the score. It was Jones' first NFL carry. The Cowboys went 86 yards in 10 plays consuming over five minutes.
On their next possession, Romo moved the Cowboys at will through the Browns' defense to the Browns' four, but Eric Wright thwarted the drive with an interception in the end zone and returned the ball to the 13.
The Browns showed a little offense in the fourth quarter as Phil Dawson kicked a 34-yard field goal with 10:13 to play to make it 28-10. Anderson hit Steptoe and Sanders to keep drives alive on third down plays. The Browns went 70 yards in 10 plays in 5:25 for the score. Prior to the field goal, Anderson was hit as he was throwing and the ball bounced to the ground and Steptoe picked it up and ran about three yards short of the first down. The crowd wanted the Browns to go for the first down, but Romeo Crennel opted for the three points.
Can't Stop ‘Boys: The Cowboys scored touchdowns on three of their first four possessions to build a 21-7 lead. The Browns mission this year was to be better at stopping the run. The Browns gave up 320 yards passing and 167 rushing for a total of 487 yards. RB Marion Barber had 64 yards in the first half and finished with 80 yards and two touchdowns before leaving the game with bruised ribs. Rookie RB Felix Jones had 57 yards, including a touchdown. QB Tony Romo was 24-of-32 for 320 yards and a touchdown and one interception. TE Jason Witten had six receptions for 96 yards and WR Terrell Owens had five catches for 87 yards, including a touchdown. WR Patrick Crayton had six receptions for 82 yards.
Lewis Back: RB Jamal Lewis was back in action and the Browns put him to work as he touched the ball on three of the team's first four plays. Lewis has 10 carries for 30 yards in the first half. He had one reception for 14 yards. He finished with 13 carries for 62 yards, including a 24 yard run.
K2 Scores: TE Kellen Winslow scored the Browns' first touchdown of the season. He finished with five catches for 47 yards to lead the Browns. WR Braylon Edwards had two receptions for just 14 yards.
Wright theft: DB Eric Wright recorded his second career interception against QB Tony Romo in the third quarter. It was the Browns' first interception of the season.
Not DA's Day: QB Derek Anderson was 11-of-24 for 114 yards and one touchdown. He fumbled once and rushed four times for 24 yards. His QB rating was 74.0. Meanwhile, Romo's was 103.6.
No Sacks: The Browns' DL Robaire Smith sacked QB Tony Romo in the second quarter, but a holding penalty on DB Brandon McDonald negated the effort. LB Kamerion Wimbley and LB Willie McGinest hit Romo as he released a pass in the third quarter and Romo was slow in getting up. Romo suffered a cut on his chin, but remained in the game. In contrast, the Browns gave up one sack when Anderson's arm was hit and he fumbled in the second half.
Stallworth Hurt: WR Donte Stallworth apparently injured his groin in pregame workouts as it was announced he was questionable prior to the game. WR Syndric Steptoe started in place of Stallworth. Newly re-signed WR Steve Sanders saw action on the fourth play of the game. The Browns were extremely thin at receiver as they waived rookie WR Paul Hubbard and signed Sanders. Joshua Cribbs was inactive. Both Steptoe and Sanders had receptions late in the game.
TO Time: When WR Terrell Owens scored his 35-yard touchdown, he drew an unsportsmanlike penalty for imitating Gold medal winner Usain Bolt from Jamaica. Owens got down in a starter's stance and then acted as if he was crossing the finish line. After the penalty, the Cowboys kicked off at their own 15.
For Openers: The Browns came into the season opener with a 1-8 record since the return in 1999. This marked the tenth consecutive season opener the Browns had opened at home. They are now 1-9.
Inactives: For the Browns: WR Joshua Cribbs, OL Ryan Tucker, DB Brodney Pool, LB Kris Griffin, OL Rex Hadnot, DL Ahtyba Rubin, TE Martin Rucker and Ken Dorsey was the third quarterback. Seth McKinney started at RG for Hadnot while Syndric Steptoe started at KR/PR for Cribbs. Mike Adams starts at FS for Pool. For the Cowboys: WR Sam Hurd, WR Miles Austin, S Courtney Brown, CB Terrance Newman, G Kyle Kosier, G Montrae Holland, T Doug Free and LB Anthony Spencer. Adam Jones started in place of Newman and Cory Procter started at LG for Kosier.