Sports

Cowboys' maligned defense better than expected in debut, but not good enough in loss to 49ers

  • San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) escapes the grasp of Dallas Cowboys defensive end Jeremy Mincey (92) in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

    San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) escapes the grasp of Dallas Cowboys defensive end Jeremy Mincey (92) in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)  (The Associated Press)

  • San Francisco 49ers running back Carlos Hyde (28) fights for extra yardage as Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Henry Melton (69) and Tyrone Crawford (98) attempt the stop during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

    San Francisco 49ers running back Carlos Hyde (28) fights for extra yardage as Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Henry Melton (69) and Tyrone Crawford (98) attempt the stop during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)  (The Associated Press)

  • San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) is knocked to the ground by Dallas Cowboys defensive end Jeremy Mincey (92) after throwing a pass in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

    San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) is knocked to the ground by Dallas Cowboys defensive end Jeremy Mincey (92) after throwing a pass in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)  (The Associated Press)

Dallas defensive tackle Jeremy Mincey keeps replaying in his head the sack that wasn't against San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick.

Mincey's near-miss symbolized the season opener for a unit that has been shaping up as a liability for the Cowboys a year after giving up the third-most yards in league history.

The Dallas defense was better than expected, but not good enough to overcome three first-half interceptions from Tony Romo and an early fumble by DeMarco Murray in a 28-17 loss.

Mincey, a free agent in his first year with the Cowboys, says the defense has something "to build off" for Sunday's visit to Tennessee.

The Cowboys have to replace linebacker Justin Durant, expected to miss at least two games with a groin injury.

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