MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Tony Romo walked briskly to the sideline as the first half was winding down, apparently feeling no ill effects of a few hits that sent him to the turf.
And that might have been the best news for the Dallas first-string offense on Saturday night.
Miami sacked Romo three times in just two quarters, put him on the grass on a couple other occasions, and the Cowboys quarterback – coming off back surgery – bounced up every time. Romo completed 10 of 18 passes for 87 yards in Dallas’ 25-20 loss to the Miami Dolphins, his night ending at halftime.
“It was good to see Tony out there playing,” Dallas coach Jason Garrett said. “He got knocked around a little bit, and that could be good and bad. … It’s good to have him feel the physical part of the game.”
Cameron Wake made sure he felt it, the star Miami defensive end sacking Romo twice on basically a lackluster night for both first-string offenses.
There were five touchdowns in the game, all in the second half and after both sides were starting going deep into the depth chart.
“It was good to take a hit and say, “OK, I’m fine,'” Romo said. “I prefer not to – but the good thing is you get back up.”
Dallas led 20-11 midway through the fourth, then allowed two late touchdowns. Orleans Darkwa ran in from 1 yard with 1:45 left to put the Dolphins ahead for good, not long after Gator Hoskins caught a 27-yard touchdown pass from Matt Moore.
“I told the team, a lot of games are going to come down to the fourth quarter,” Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said. “And we made some plays in the fourth quarter.”
Miami starter Ryan Tannehill played into the third quarter, completing 13 of 21 passes for 119 yards. His biggest mistake was his final throw, an interception inside the Dallas 10 on Miami’s opening possession of the third quarter.
Tannehill also missed on what should have been a 35-yard touchdown pass to Mike Wallace, saying afterward the “miscommunication” on the play was his fault.
“We’ll get it,” Wallace said.
Tyler Patmon had a 9-yard interception return for a score and LaRon Byrd caught a 27-yard touchdown pass from Brandon Weeden for Dallas. Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey made field goals of 52 and 50 yards.
Patmon picked off a screen pass from Moore with 7:17 left, reading the play perfectly.
A good sign for Miami was the preseason debut of Knowshon Moreno, who ran for a 19-yard gain on his first touch of the exhibition schedule. He finished with 64 yards on 10 carries.
“We did some good things,” Moreno said.
There were some mistakes, too. The Dolphins escaped a big blunder when a Dallas formation penalty nullified Bruce Carter’s block of a Brandon Fields punt near the Miami end zone.
Miami took an 11-6 lead in the third when Dallas’ defense couldn’t find a way to stop Damian Williams.
Or Damien Williams, for that matter.
The similarly named Dolphins – Damien is a running back, Damian is a wide receiver – paired up to deliver the game’s first touchdown. Damien Williams got loose for a 20-yard run, one play before Damian Williams ran under a play-action offering from Moore and hauled in what became a 54-yard gain.
Two plays later, Damien Williams went in from the 1 for the game’s first touchdown, then got the 2-point conversion.
Miami outgained Dallas 490-251.
“They were able to move the football on us, they ran the ball from spread formations,” Garrett said. “I thought our defense did a good job of forcing them to bog down, kick the field goal, take the ball away. Those are positive things.”
NOTES: Dallas DE George Selvie left in the first half with a shoulder injury, but thought afterward it was not serious. . Dolphins LB Koa Misi was among those who did not play for Miami. . Byrd, who played for the Miami Hurricanes, threw up the school’s “U” symbol with his hands after catching the TD pass. . Both teams end the preseason at home Thursday, Miami hosting St. Louis, Dallas hosting Denver.