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Jags rally to ruin Owens' Dallas debut

Terrell Owens gave the Dallas Cowboys almost everything they wanted in the season opener: big plays, a touchdown and no surly behavior. The only thing missing was a victory.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Sept. 10, 2006) -- Terrell Owens gave the Dallas Cowboys almost everything they wanted in the season opener: big plays, a touchdown and no surly behavior.

The only thing missing was a victory.

Byron Leftwich threw a touchdown pass and ran for a score, Fred Taylor had 115 combined yards and the Jacksonville Jaguars spoiled Owens' much-anticipated Dallas debut with a 24-17 win Sunday.

"I was hoping he wouldn't even score a touchdown," said Taylor, who also had a 3-yard TD run with 3:13 to play.

Owens made his presence felt early and late. It was just too early to hurt the Jaguars and too late to help the Cowboys.

He finished with six receptions for 80 yards and a score, but the Jaguars held him without a catch through much of the second half. Still, Owens keyed all three of Dallas' scoring drives, including a 21-yard TD reception with 1:54 to play that cut the lead the 24-17.

Jacksonville recovered the onside kick and was forced to punt. The Cowboys got the ball back with 51 seconds to play, but Drew Bledsoe 's third-down pass was intercepted by linebacker Mike Peterson.

It was Bledsoe's third interception of the game and gave the Jaguars their ninth opening-day win in 12 seasons.

"Too many mistakes," Cowboys coach Bill Parcells said. "We had our chances. We just couldn't get it all together there."

Dallas missed several chances, most of them early.

They scored on their first two possessions -- a touchdown and a field goal -- and were looking to make it 17-0 in the second quarter. But Bledsoe overthrew Owens, who was wide open near the goal line.

The Jaguars kicked a field goal on the ensuing possession. Then, instead of running out the clock after a holding penalty with less than two minutes to play in the first half, Bledsoe tried to throw downfield and was picked off for the first time.

Four plays later, Leftwich found Reggie Williams in the end zone for a 6-yard touchdown that tied the game. Williams appeared to push Anthony Henry's head down before the ball arrived, but officials didn't throw a flag.

"Once we let them hang around, we started making mistakes and that's the story of the game," said Bledsoe, who 16-of-33 for 246 yards and was sacked twice.

Dallas had several other key miscues:

  • Owens had a 25-yard reception negated in the third quarter by an offensive pass interference penalty on tight end Anthony Fasano.
  • Jason Witten had a 10-yard TD catch nullified by offensive pass interference late in the third quarter. He pushed Rashean Mathis just before the ball arrived.
  • Shaun Suisham, subbing for injured place-kicker Mike Vanderjagt, missed a 36-yard field goal two plays after Witten's penalty. The kick bounced off the right upright.

"I don't like coming in and starting with a loss, but by no means are we down on ourselves," said Owens, who said all the right things following his debut.

Owens was the catalyst for all three scores.

He had two catches on Dallas' opening touchdown drive and helped set up a field goal on the team's second possession. He ran a simple slant pattern on Dallas' first play from scrimmage, beat Mathis and gained 13 yards. He jumped up, slapped Bledsoe's hand and returned to the huddle with a big smile.

On the next possession, Owens drew extra coverage that allowed Jones to run wide open down the sideline for a 39-yard reception, setting up Suisham's 32-yard field goal.

"I thought he got us started pretty well early," Parcells said. "Made a big catch there at the end and gave us another chance. That's about it. It's disappointing. It really is."

Owens, benched by Philadelphia for the final nine games last season after griping about his contract and bickering publicly with quarterback Donovan McNabb, was released in March and signed with Dallas four days later. He missed most of training camp with a hamstring injury, but vowed to be ready for the opener.

And he was, as the game started to look like it would become the T.O. Show. But the Jaguars adjusted and held Owens to just two catches in the second half while putting constant pressure on Bledsoe, who threw two interceptions in the fourth quarter.

"He was not about to run out there on my Jaguar," defensive tackle John Henderson said, referring to Owens' famed pose on the Dallas star when he played with San Francisco.

Notes: Jags DE Reggie Hayward tore his left Achilles' tendon and was lost for the season. ... The Jags looked like they had little trouble replacing five-time Pro Bowl receiver Jimmy Smith. Matt Jones caught five passes for 71 yards. Reggie Williams had six receptions for 47 yards. Ernest Wilford caught three passes for 58 yards. ... Dallas had nine penalties for 93 yards.

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