Injury bug attacks Denver Broncos, Dallas Cowboys

Injury bug attacks Denver Broncos, Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos wide receiver Bennie Fowler celebrates his two-point conversion pass reception against the Carolina Panthers in the fourth quarter in Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California on February 7, 2016. Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI

DENVER — Injuries struck both the Broncos and the Cowboys with alarming frequency during Denver’s 42-17 win over Dallas on Sunday.

Midway through the second quarter, Broncos wide receiver Bennie Fowler left the game after landing on his head trying to make a diving catch near the goal line. Denver lost rookie left tackle Garett Bolles to a lower left leg injury during the third quarter.

Cowboys rookie cornerback Chidobe Awuzie left in the first quarter because of a hamstring injury and did not return. Then, during the second quarter, Dallas cornerback Nolan Carroll sustained a concussion and was ruled out for the remainder of the game.

Fowler got up after a hard landing but then took a few steps toward the sideline and fell to the ground in a heap. Tended on the field by team medical personnel, Fowler was assisted to the sideline and then walked to the locker room under his own power to be evaluated for a concussion. He did not return to the game.

Bolles, the Broncos’ top draft pick, was grimacing in pain and had to be carted off the field after apparently having the leg rolled in traffic during a running play. He nevertheless gathered himself to blow a kiss to the crowd as he was driven off the field and into the locker room.

The Broncos said after the game that X-rays were negative, but he is scheduled to undergo further tests on Monday to determine the severity of the injury.

Awuzie was starting in place of the injured Orlando Scandrick, who was listed among the team’s inactive players after breaking his left hand helping to make a tackle in Dallas’ opening win over the New York Giants.

Dallas’ vaunted running game was limited to 40 yards rushing on 14 attempts and managed just one first down via rushing, the team’s lowest total in a game in five seasons.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said the Broncos stacked the box on defense and Dallas was unable to break Denver’s grip by making enough plays in the passing game.

“They had a lot of guys around the line of scrimmage,” Garrett said. “They were loading up the box and playing man to man outside. You really have to have some success throwing the ball to get them out of that defense, and we were not able to do that on a consistent basis.”

Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, who had a career-high 50 pass attempts, shouldered some of the blame for the running game’s lack of effectiveness.

“I feel like if I would have made some of those plays on the outside, I probably would have forced them to get in a zone (defense) more than the man coverage they were in a majority of the night,” Prescott said. “And usually that’s when our run game hits.”

Cornerback Aqib Talib’s 103-yard interception return marked the 10th time in his career he returned an interception for a touchdown.

He ranks third on the NFL’s all-time list, behind Rod Woodson (12) and Darren Sharper and Charles Woodson, who each had 11.

Talib has six interception returns for scores since joining the Broncos in 2014, the most in Denver’s team history. He celebrated his latest by jumping into the end-zone seats.

“I went all the way up in the stands to get me a hot dog,” Talib said with a laugh.

Von Miller ended a five-game sackless streak by breaking through to sack Prescott twice.

Miller increased his career total to 75 1/2 sacks, moving into third place on the team’s all-time list by eclipsing Barney Chavous (75) and Rulon Jones (73.5).

“Sacks are good, you just can’t be worried about that type of stuff,” Miller said. “My focus has always been on being a dominant football player and being a dominant defensive player. Whatever opportunity that I have to be dominant, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Dallas tight end Jason Witten achieved another milestone a week after becoming the Cowboys’ all-time leading receiver.

Witten played in his 225th game as a member of the Cowboys, surpassing Ed Jones (224) for most games played in team history.

Witten had 10 receptions for 97 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown against the Broncos to boost his career receiving yardage to 12,044. He surpassed Michael Irvin (11,904) last week to become the Cowboys’ all-time leader in receiving yards.

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