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Third-string QB McGee, new PK Buehler, LB Butler lead Cowboys past Dolphins 27-25

The Dallas Cowboys are going into the season feeling a lot better about kicker David Buehler.

Limited to kickoffs as a rookie last season, Buehler showed he can handle placekicks, too, by making field goals of 51, 45 and 40 yards — all with plenty of room to spare — then nailing a 31-yarder as time expired to lift the Cowboys past the Miami Dolphins 27-25 in the preseason finale Thursday night.

Third-string quarterback Stephen McGee also boosted the club's confidence, throwing a perfect 43-yard touchdown pass to Sam Hurd against Miami's starting defense, then leading Dallas on the winning drive in the final 2 minutes.

The Cowboys (3-2) used only one likely starter, fullback Deon Anderson, but held their own while the Dolphins' top units played into the second quarter.

Reserve linebacker Victor Butler was another standout for Dallas. He swatted two of Chad Henne's passes, then sent him to the bench for good with fumble-causing sacks on consecutive plays.

Henne was 6 of 11 for 53 yards. He led three drives, reaching the Dallas 7 on the opening series before settling for a 28-yard field goal.

Chad Pennington was 7 of 10 for 40 yards, including a 2-yard touchdown pass to Brian Hartline that put Miami (2-2) up 10-7.

Buehler tied it at 10 with a 51-yarder as the first half expired.

There was a furious finish, with Tyler Thigpen leading Miami to 15 points on its final two drives (a pair of short touchdown passes and a go-ahead 2-point conversion run with 2:22 left) and McGee answering each time, taking Dallas on a 64-yard touchdown drive also capped by a 2-point conversion run and a 70-yard drive that ended with Buehler's winning kick.

McGee was 27 of 42 for 304 yards with a sack and no turnovers. He had a quarterback rating of 93.8.

Thigpen was 10 of 18 for 160 yards.

Miami's Ricky Williams had only two carries, but they included a 42-yarder right up the middle.

Tony Romo and the rest of the Cowboys' first-teamers suited up and went through warmups, then watched from the bench. They enjoyed this one more than any since the opener, between all the big plays and the fact the starting offense wasn't out there struggling to score.

Cowboys rookie safety Akwasi Owusu-Ansah walked away from a punt return in which he was clotheslined and lost his helmet, and later made an interception.

Miami's Jake Long, the starting left tackle, left with a knee injury. He was treated on a table behind the bench and didn't return.

Before the game, Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland and Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant shook hands and spoke for about a minute, seemingly having patched things up since Ireland asked during a pre-draft interview whether Bryant's mother was a prostitute. Ireland already had apologized, but this was their first face-to-face meeting since.