Broncos tough out win over Cowboys
AP Sports Writer
DENVER – Champ Bailey knocked away the potential tying touchdown pass from Tony Romo to Sam Hurd with 1 second left and the Denver Broncos escaped with a 17-10 win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.
On fourth-and-goal from the 2, Romo dropped back and found Hurd cutting over the middle, but Bailey reached around and swatted the pass away at the last second, giving the Broncos their first 4-0 start since 2003.
The Broncos took the lead on Brandon Marshall’s 51-yard touchdown catch with 1:46 remaining.
Romo, ineffective in the second half when the Cowboys’ first five drives ended in four punts and an interception by Bailey, found Hurd for a 53-yard gain on fourth-and-3 from the Dallas 27 with a minute left.
The Cowboys (2-2) reached the 2 on catches by Tashard Choice, Hurd and Patrick Crayton.
Romo spiked the ball on second-and-goal, then Bailey knocked away a high pass intended for Hurd before swatting away one that looked as if it was right on the money.
Denver, which has the league’s top-ranked defense, held the league’s best rushing attack to just 74 yards on 25 carries, a 3-yard clip.
Elvis Dumervil led a pass rush that hounded Romo, dumping him on his back five times for sacks, two by Dumervil, who has eight sacks in the past three weeks.
Matt Prater’s 28-yard field goal with 5:58 left tied it at 10.
Crayton’s 96-yard punt return for a touchdown was nullified because the ball bounced on the goal line before Darcel McBath tipped it back toward Crayton, who picked it up and zigzagged his way downfield. The official immediately ruled it a touchback, keeping it a 10-7 game with 11:18 remaining.
Romo was ineffective and continually led his receivers into big hits, none bigger than when Roy Williams was blasted by D.J. Williams with 9:47 left in the game. He also hung up Crayton twice on that drive.
Broncos coach Josh McDaniels gambled on the last play of the third quarter when he decided to go for it on fourth-and-1 instead of attempting a 47-yard field goal to tie it.
Linebacker Keith Brooking darted through and met rookie running back Knowshon Moreno head-on and stopped him inches short, giving Dallas the ball to start the fourth quarter.
Correll Buckhalter wasn’t available after injuring his left ankle earlier in the drive, and Peyton Hillis, the battering ram of a back who was stopped at the goal line twice last week in Oakland, watched Moreno get the call.
The Broncos were trailing 10-0 when safety Renaldo Hill forced a fumble by Romo that linebacker D.J. Williams recovered inside the Dallas 10-yard-line in the second quarter.
Six seconds later, Kyle Orton threw a pass to Moreno that went through the hands of linebacker Anthony Spencer, pulling Denver to 10-7.
Before that, little went right for the Broncos, who were whistled for eight flags in the first half.
Moreno fumbled away his first carry of the second half when DeMarcus Ware came off a block by Daniel Graham and punched the ball loose. Linebacker Bradie James recovered for Dallas at the Denver 27, but Romo quickly gave it back when Bailey made an acrobatic interception at the 6.
Dallas built a 10-0 lead on Nick Folk’s 49-yard field goal and Marion Barber’s 1-yard run.