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Williams rushes for TD; Dolphins beat Buccaneers

Associated Press

Ricky Williams rushed for 59 yards, all in the opening half, and scored the first touchdown of the exhibition season for Miami’s first-team offense as the host Dolphins defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17-14 Saturday night.

Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown, first-round picks who shared time in the backfield last season for unbeaten Auburn, each found room to run in limited duty. Williams gained 28 yards in five carries for Tampa Bay, while Brown rushed for 20 yards in six attempts, but lost a fumble in his first preseason game with Miami.

The Dolphins (1-3) won for the first time under new coach Nick Saban.

Ricky Williams was greeted with a mix of cheers and boos when introduced before the game – his first in Miami since his abrupt retirement a year ago started the franchise toward its worst season since the 1960s.

But it was all applause from the small crowd when he scored on a 4-yard run to cap the opening series, an eight-play, 77-yard drive. Although the game was a sellout, the stands were less than half full two nights after Hurricane Katrina hit South Florida.

Cowboys 21, Texans 9

Roy Williams unloaded several crushing blows and Terence Newman provided an interception in the end zone and plenty of tight coverage, helping Dallas in the annual preseason game between the Lone Star State squads in Irving, Texas.

Dallas used quarterback Drew Bledsoe and most of the first-team offense until midway through the third quarter, while Houston (1-2) pulled quarterback David Carr and his unit after halftime.

Bledsoe was 11 of 18 for 113 yards with no turnovers. After getting just two first downs in his first four possessions, he went 5 for 5 on an 80-yard drive, with Julius Jones covering the final 21 for the touchdown.

Jones finished with 50 yards on 10 carries.

Broncos 37, Colts 24

Peyton Manning and Indianapolis got things going against the team they beat up on the best. This time, though, Jake Plummer and Denver more than matched Indy score for score.

Manning threw for 206 yards and two touchdowns over the first 2 1/2 quarters, but it wasn’t enough to prevent a preseason loss to host Denver.

Mike Anderson scored a 93-yard touchdown as part of his 159-yard, two-score night for Denver, one year to the day since he was lost for the 2004 season with a groin injury suffered against Houston.

Herrion remembered in Texas

About 1,000 people gathered in Fort Worth, Texas, to say farewell and reflect on affable San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman Thomas Herrion, who died last week after collapsing in Denver following a preseason game.

Former teammates, coaches and NFL officials filled the center pews in front of the pulpit, where red and gold flowers rested on Herrion’s casket. On either side were pictures and helmets belonging to the 23-year-old, who was fondly remembered in a service that elicited almost as many laughs as tears.

“Without any reservation, he played football for the right reasons,” said Florida coach Urban Meyer, who coached Herrion at Utah . “He played for three reasons – he played for his mother, his family and his teammates, and I want you to know that.”

About 30 players, coaches and personnel from the 49ers attended the service. Among them were rookie quarterback Alex Smith – who played with Herrion at Utah – head coach Mike Nolan and most of the offensive line.

Giants struggle without Manning

The most important throws of Eli Manning’s fledgling NFL career may come this week in the antiseptic environment of the New York Giants’ practice facility.

That is when the second-year quarterback will continue testing the sprained right elbow that holds the key to the Giants’ fortunes.

With backups Tim Hasselbeck and then Jesse Palmer at the controls, the Giants committed five turnovers and failed to score a touchdown in a 15-14 win over the New York Jets Friday.

Manning injured the elbow when he was sacked by Carolina’s Julius Peppers in the Giants’ 27-21 win on Aug. 20. The injury was originally considered minor, but Manning will most likely miss this Thursday’s final preseason game at New England.

Jets cut seven players

The New York Jets cut veteran punter Micah Knorr, giving the job to Australian Ben Graham. The Jets also cut running back DeCori Birmingham, tackles Ethan Brooks and Henry Tellis, wide receivers Eddie Jackson and Carl Kearney, and cornerback Art Thomas.

Bettis has MRI on injured calf

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis had an MRI test on his injured right calf, but team officials did not update his condition.

Coach Bill Cowher prefers to personally make such injury-related announcements, and team spokesman Dave Lockett said Cowher isn’t expected to update Bettis’ condition until Monday. The Steelers finish their exhibition schedule Thursday night at Carolina.

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