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Defense helps high-scoring Cowboys beat Dolphins

MIAMI -- The Dallas Cowboys did plenty of scoring again Sunday, this time with help from their defense.

After winning a shootout in the season opener, Dallas took advantage of five takeaways and a ball-control offense to beat the hapless Miami Dolphins 37-20.

The Cowboys intercepted Trent Green four times and recovered a fumbled snap. Green also fumbled attempting a spike play late in the first half, possibly costing Miami points.

Dallas came from behind twice and nursed a 20-13 lead early in the fourth quarter, then sealed the win with two touchdowns in the final 4:01.

Anthony Henry had two interceptions, and Ken Hamlin and Roy Williams made one apiece, while the Cowboys committed no turnovers. The disparity helped them improve to 2-0 under new coach Wade Phillips, the former San Diego defensive coordinator who was a little chagrined to win the opener 45-35 over the New York Giants.

The Cowboys have won their first two games for the first time since 1999, when they started 3-0 but finished 8-8.

Elusive Tony Romo went 14-for-29 for 186 yards and two scores, and he ran for 36 yards. He put Dallas ahead 30-13 with four minutes left by throwing a 34-yard touchdown pass on fourth down to Terrell Owens, who celebrated by leaning against the goal post and holding the ball to his face as if filming with it.

Owens was penalized 15 yards for "using the goal post as a prop," the referee announced.

Marion Barber scored on runs of 1 and 40 yards. He finished with 89 yards to help Dallas control the ball for 35 minutes.

Miami fell to 0-2 for the third time in four years, and new coach Cam Cameron is off to a rough start in his bid to end a franchise-record five-year playoff drought.

The Dolphins' ineptitude included their punt team, which committed penalties on consecutive plays, negating a 53-yard net kick with the second flag. The subsequent punt was returned 49 yards by Patrick Crayton, and three plays later, a scrambling Romo hit Tony Curtis with a 2-yard touchdown pass to put the Cowboys ahead to stay, 17-13.

The score was Curtis' first in the NFL.

Dallas mounted a pair of 12-play scoring drives in the first half, each lasting more than six minutes. Rookie Nick Folk was perfect, making field goals of 26, 28 and 47 yards.

Defense did the rest -- with help from the Dolphins.

A bizarre sequence led Miami to run two spike plays in a row at the end of the first half, possibly costing them a touchdown.

With 25 seconds left, Green wanted to stop the clock but fumbled before he could spike the ball. Another six seconds ran down before Green took another snap and spiked successfully. One play later, on fourth down, the Dolphins settled for a 45-yard field goal by Jay Feely that left them trailing 10-6 at the half.

Green finished 23-for-40 for 287 yards. He threw touchdown passes of 18 yards to Marty Booker and 21 yards to Derek Hagan.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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