ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — Dallas has to hope Brandon Weeden can be a solid insurance policy with Tony Romo coming off back surgery. Denver has little worry behind Peyton Manning.
Broncos’ backup Brock Osweiler led four scoring drives in the final tuneup for another year behind Manning, and the Broncos beat the Cowboys 27-3 Thursday night, sending Dallas to the fifth winless preseason in franchise history.
With Manning and Romo watching in uniform from the sidelines, Osweiler played three efficient quarters, completing nine of 13 for 190 yards without an interception.
Romo’s backup, Weeden, came out before halftime of his second ragged game in four preseason outings. He was 6 of 12 for 75 yards with an interception that set up Denver’s first touchdown.
“We didn’t really get into the rhythm we wanted offensively,” said Weeden after the game. “We kind of got behind the chains, which made it tough on us. Some good, some bad.”
The Cowboys (0-4) didn’t make the playoffs in three of their other four winless preseasons and are trying to avoid matching a club record with a fifth straight year of missing the postseason.
While Jerry Jones said he was concerned, he recalled his first season as owner in 1989 when he had fired coach Tom Landry. Dallas was unbeaten going into a preseason finale against Denver and Broncos coach Dan Reeves, who played for Landry.
“He was hot about coach Landry and those things that had been done here with the Cowboys,” Jones said. “He left Elway all the way through the whole game and we played into overtime … so we didn’t go undefeated. And we won one football game the whole season. So much for the preseason.”
Kapri Bibbs, a running back on the roster bubble, rushed for two second-half scores for the Broncos (3-1).
As expected, Denver defensive end DeMarcus Ware didn’t play in his first trip to Dallas since the Cowboys’ franchise sacks leader was released and signed with the Broncos in March.
Ware had a long pregame chat on the field with Jason Witten, the Dallas tight end who interrupted Ware’s conference call with reporters this week for some playful trash talk.
The Broncos shared most of their running plays between running backs expected to make the team in C.J. Anderson and Juwan Thompson. The Cowboys sat their top four runners and handed the ball to guys who might not be around after final cuts Saturday.
Anderson got the heaviest load with 14 carries for 33 yards and a 1-yard touchdown set up by Osweiler’s longest completion, a 34-yarder to a leaping Andre Caldwell near the goal line.
One of the Dallas backs was Phillip Tanner, who wasn’t re-signed by the Cowboys after spending his first three years with them. Tanner was cut by the Colts last week, so the Cowboys officially added him earlier Thursday just to get through the game. He led Dallas with 26 yards.
Weeden led a 74-yard drive to a field goal, but was off the mark on several throws and had just one first down in three other possessions.
Several Dallas defensive starters got a few snaps, but Henry Melton wasn’t one of them.
The Cowboys changed their plan to get their free agent tackle his first preseason action before the opener, taking the safe route instead with his groin injury. Melton hasn’t played since a torn knee ligament ended his final season in Chicago in Week 3 last year.
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