7:44 P.M. CDT: The first-quarter statistics painted an unpleasant picture for the Broncos:
Total yardage: Denver 26, Dallas 114.
Time of possession: Denver 4:51, Dallas 10:09.
First downs: Denver 2, Dallas 8.
7:46 P.M. CDT: Back-to-back incompletions — one intended for Brandon Marshall deep up the right sideline, the other intended for Brian Clark short — force the Broncos to punt. It’s Paul Ernster’s turn this time after Todd Sauerbrun’s first-quarter shank, and Ernster gets a 12-yard roll that sends the punt to the 10-yard-line for a gross and net of 47 yards.
7:49 P.M. CDT: Ian Gold stops Anthony Fasano in the open field, limiting him to three yards on first-and-10 from the Dallas 10. The first-team ‘D’ desperately needs a stop here.
7:53 P.M. CDT: Not going to happen there … on third-and-a-long-1, Barber slammed off the right side for 11 yards, with the last four coming as he ran through a tackle attempt from D.J. Williams.
7:54 P.M. CDT: And there’s the first defensive stop of the preseason. Tony Romo tests Dre’ Bly and pays the price … Bly jumped the inside move by Miles Austin and records his first interception as a Bronco.
7:56 P.M. CDT: Cutler and Marshall working it … back-to-back completions have Denver at the Dallas 18 with a second-and-5.
7:57 P.M. CDT: Hello, facemask penalty? Roy Williams got his hand into Travis Henry’s cage but got off scot-free.
7:59 P.M. CDT: The nachos being inhaled by media-relations training-camp intern Laura Haning two seats down from me smell as though they taste exquisite. Meanwhile, Travis Henry got two yards on third-and-5, forcing the Broncos to settle for a 33-yard Jason Elam field goal, trimming the deficit to 14-3.
8:02 P.M. CDT: It’s Todd Sauerbrun’s turn to kick off, and the it’s a returnable kick that allows the Cowboys the chance to start at their 31-yard-line.
8:03 P.M. CDT: From bad to worse for the Broncos defense as Ebenezer Ekuban appears to have injured his right leg. Ekuban cannot put any weight on the leg and was helped to the sidelines.
8:05 P.M. CDT: Elvis Dumervil replaces Ekuban in the lineup.
8:06 P.M. CDT: The third-down issues continue, as Romo found a wide-open Patrick Crayton for a short pass that he turned into a 28-yard gain, pushing the Cowboys into field-goal range.
8:07 P.M. CDT: Bly is stupefied after a flag comes out after he appeared to have broken up a pass for Miles Austin at the Dallas 5. It appeared that Bly came in with the football, but the officials disagreed. One play later, Barber scores his second touchdown of the night and the Broncos trail by three scores.
8:12 P.M. CDT: Update on Ekuban from the media-relations department: He has a strained right Achilles tendon and will not return tonight.
8:13 P.M. CDT: Broncos now 0-for-4 on third-down conversions tonight. It’s Sauerbrun’s turn to punt, and Patrick Crayton has trouble fielding it on the bounce, but the Broncos can’t recover and Dallas takes over at its 17-yard-line. The first-teamers are still in on both sides.
8:15 P.M. CDT: If at first you don’t succeed … Nate Webster slams the football loose from Sam Hurd after a reception for a first down. Nick Ferguson recovers and the Broncos take over at the Dallas 29.
8:16 P.M. CDT: Great job of concentration by Daniel Graham to snag a tipped pass to move the Broncos to the Denver 3.
8:17 P.M. CDT: Another harrowing sight … Travis Henry limping off the field, favoring his left leg.
8:18 P.M. CDT: Kyle Johnson can’t make his bread-and-butter play; he fails to catch the pass from Cutler in the left flat for what would have been a touchdown.
8:19 P.M. CDT: Cutler under heavy pressure from Anthony Spencer, and he lobs it for Chad Mustard in the abck of the end zone … or perhaps for Nate Jackson; he was also in the area. Neither catches it, and the Broncos settle for a 20-yard Elam field goal and a 21-6 deficit.
8:21 P.M. CDT: Paul Ernster’s kickoff is returned 35 yards to the Dallas 36. The first-teamers remain in the game on both sides.
8:24 P.M. CDT: Update on Henry — left-knee sprain, will not return tonight.
8:27 P.M. CDT: Jarvis Moss called for an offsides penalty, giving the Cowboys third-and-3 at the Denver 45 … and a delay handoff to Barber gives Dallas six yards and a first down. Denver has now yielded six first downs in seven third-down plays, an alarming statistic.
8:29 P.M. CDT: Not much has come Champ Bailey’s way tonight, but he makes a big play in the right flat by stopping Barber for a 3-yard loss on first-and-10. A five-yard pass to Hurd has Dallas in third-and-8 with 36 seconds left before halftime.
8:30 P.M. CDT: It wouldn’t be Texas without Cotton-Eyed Joe over the public-address system.
8:30 P.M. CDT: Romo finds Crayton, who steps out of bounds … five yards short of the first-down marker. Denver gets just its second third-down stop of the evening, and Dallas takes a timeout with 29 seconds left before halftime.
8:32 P.M. CDT: And Nick Folk drills the 52-yard field goal, succeeding where Martin Gramatica failed on Dallas’ first series. The Broncos now trail 24-6 with 25 seconds left before intermission and no timeouts.
8:34 P.M. CDT: Quincy Morgan leaves the field gingerly after getting walloped at the sideline … backup offense in for Denver, with Patrick Ramsey taking over at quarterback.
8:35 P.M. CDT: Halftime.