Keys to the Comeback

The Cowboys earned a hard-fought 34-31 win over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday at Monster Park. Here are some of the keys that highlighted the victory.

Defense Dominates Second Half

It's not overly surprising that the Dallas Cowboys are 2-0 in both games in which the defense has not allowed a fourth-quarter point. Dallas outscored the 49ers 15-0 in the final quarter on Sunday, and did the same thing to the San Diego Chargers two weeks ago by a smaller margin of 7-0.

The surprise came in the first half when the 49er offense, which entered the game 31st in the NFL, put up 17 points (24 overall) in the first half.

In the first quarter, San Francisco gained 104 yards on 14 plays. They not only matched but toppled that number in the second quarter, gaining 149 yards on 15 plays.

Now on to the second half.

The Dallas defense surrendered 66 yards in the third quarter and 62 in the fourth. The 49ers had two separate drives alone in the first half that accounted for over half of that yardage--one that featured an 89-yard catch-and-run touchdown pass from Tim Rattay to Brandon Floyd.

The defense forced three turnovers in the second half. Of San Francisco's eight possessions in the second period, only one did not result in either a turnover or punt. The lone exception was a four-play, 34-yard touchdown drive capped off by another TD catch from Floyd--this one of 13 yards on the 49ers' last possession of the third quarter.

The Cowboys' run defense, which entered the game ranked 16th in the league, allowed 124 yards on the ground, but only one run of more than 10 yards in the second half.

Dat Nguyen also led the team with seven tackles for the second straight week. He intercepted Rattay with 54 seconds left in the game to preserve the victory and also recovered a third-quarter fumble deep in Cowboys territory. Rookie first-round pick Demarcus Ware recorded his first career NFL sack and had three tackles.

Terry Glenn: Playmaker

For the second straight week, Terry Glenn was a difference maker. Glenn caught two key passes from quarterback Drew Bledsoe in the second half that served as key plays on Cowboy scoring drives Sunday.

The first was a 58-yard catch late in the third quarter to set up a 1-yard Julius Jones touchdown run. Later on, with the Cowboys trailing 31-26 and inside of four minutes to play, Glenn hauled in a 44-yard grab at the San Francisco 15 to set up the game-winning score: a 14-yard touchdown catch by Keyshawn Johnson. (Glenn was also on the receiving end of a 70-yard flea-flicker against the Washington Redskins in Week 2.) For the second straight week, he out-gained Johnson in receiving yards.

TE Jason Witten was utilized more for the second straight game. After only one catch in the Week 1 opener at San Diego, Witten hauled in four catches for 35 yards against the Redskins and a season-high six catches for 85 yards against the 49ers. The longest was a 26-yard completion just past the midway point of the second quarter.

Bigtime Bledsoe

A winning team can't function without its quarterback. As such, Bledsoe took advantage of a 49er defense ranked dead last in the league after the first two weeks to have his first 300-yard game in over two years, all the while providing an unofficial slap in the face of the hometown crowd in the process.

Bledsoe was 24-of-38 (63 percent) for 363 yards and passed NFL greats Johnny Unitas (Colts) and Joe Montana (49ers) for eighth place on the list of all-time passing yardage leaders. He threw two touchdown passes and scrambled for one.

Bledsoe wasn't perfect, of course. He threw his first interceptions of the year after mistake-free games in Weeks 1 and 2. Both of them led to 49er touchdowns--one on a 34-yard INT return by Tony Parrish; the second on another pick to Parrish that led to Young's 13-yard score.

Other Notes

The Cowboys' defense sacked Rattay two times after recording five sacks against the Redskins' Mark Brunell in Week 2. Julius Jones had 26 carries for 85 yards, an average of 3.3 YPC, and two rushing TD's. Jones has averaged 3.5 yards in his first three games this season. He also caught four passes for 28 yards and now has 11 receptions on the year for 70 yards.


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