CANTON, Ohio — Rookie Devonte Holloman’s 75-yard interception return with a tipped pass keyed the Dallas Cowboys’ 24-20 victory over the Miami Dolphins in the Hall of Fame game Sunday night that opened the NFL’s preseason.
The sixth-round pick from South Carolina was perfectly situated when rookie Chad Bumphis had Matt Moore’s pass go off his hands in the second quarter. It was the biggest play for a Dallas defense switching to a 4-3 alignment under new coordinator Monte Kiffin.
“Man, that was exciting,” Holloman said.
The Cowboys controlled most of the game one night after their former offensive lineman, Larry Allen, and former coach, Bill Parcells, were inducted into the hall.
Quarterback Tony Romo, coming off back surgery to remove a cyst, sat out for Dallas. So the Cowboys turned to their ground game — and ground down Miami as few regulars got onto the field.
Linebacker Hollomon sped toward the end zone with a group of blockers escorting him, and after he scored he tightly clutched the ball as he headed to the Dallas sideline.
Coach Jason Garrett was thrilled by the play of his youth corps.
“Any time you can give young players and extra chance to play in a game, they grow,” he said before adding of Holloman’s touchdown: “It was fantastic, a really great play from him. We were swarming to the football, had a lot of guys around the quarterback, and then the ball pops in the air and he makes a great play and great run.”
Bumphis otherwise had a strong game with five receptions for 85 yards.
But Miami’s mistakes were decisive. They struggled most of the night against Dallas’ new defense masterminded by Kiffin, the man who designed the Tampa 2 scheme so prevalent throughout the NFL.
Although top running back DeMarco Murray was held out, the Cowboys were dominant on the ground. Phillip Tanner did the bulk of the early work and finished with 59 yards and a touchdown. Joseph Randle handled the late duty and had 70 yards as Dallas piled up 170 yards rushing.