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Owens catches three TDs as Cowboys roll past Texans

Oct 15, 2006 - 8:19 PM IRVING, Texas (Ticker) -- Terrell Owens finally made some headlines on the field for the Dallas Cowboys.

Owens caught three touchdown passes as the Cowboys scored 31 unanswered points in the second half en route to a comfortable 34-6 victory over the Houston Texans.

Prior to Sunday, Owens had accumulated more injuries than touchdowns since signing with Dallas in the offseason. The controversial wideout managed only 17 catches for 232 yards and a score in his first four contests with the Cowboys while playing through a hamstring strain and a broken right hand.

Owens also has been a major headache off the field, complaining about his role in the offense and getting into a shouting match with receivers coach Todd Haley earlier this week. He even accidentally overdosed on prescription pain killers last month, an incident that first was reported as a suicide attempt only to later be refuted by Owens.

On Sunday, Owens finally displayed the type of impact that the Cowboys hoped he would have on their offense. He caught a three-yard touchdown from Drew Bledsoe early in the third quarter to help Dallas erase a surprising 6-3 deficit and added a 21-yard TD later in the period to give the Cowboys (3-2) some breathing room.

"Today was a stepping stone," Owens said. "I'm trying to get on the same page as Drew and, when the ball is in the air, I know how to go and get it. I've been waiting to score and this was a good start and something to build on."

In all, Owens finished with five catches for 45 yards and recorded the 25th multi-touchdown game of his career. He now has 105 career receiving TDs, five behind Indianapolis Colts star Marvin Harrison for third place on the all-time list.

"He made some really nice plays in man-to-man coverage and I trusted him," Bledsoe said. "I just put it out there and he went and got it. It's hard for him to feel involved when he doesn't get the football."

Given more time to throw than in previous weeks, Bledsoe completed 17-of-28 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns. In the final minutes, he was replaced by Tony Romo, who found a wide-open Owens for a two-yard TD strike to cap the scoring.

Owens' first touchdown catch came with 10:13 remaining in in the third quarter. He was split wide left in a 1-on-1 matchup with Lewis Sanders but outmaneuvered the cornerback to snag Bledsoe's pass.

On his second TD reception, Owens got in between corner Dexter McCleon and safety C.C. Brown in the end zone and Bledsoe put the pass where only his receiver could catch it.

Owens' final touchdown came with 2:24 to play and the outcome already decided. The five-time Pro Bowler got open on a play-action pass and Romo found him for his first career TD pass.

"I think (Owens) did a good job," said Cowboys coach Bill Parcells, whose team was coming off a 38-24 defeat to Philadelphia. "Hopefully he can build on this. We have the same game plan (every week). We try to involve everybody and things come your way sometimes and other times they don't."

The Cowboys also got plenty of help from Julius Jones and Marion Barber, who combined for 163 yards on 32 carries. Jones rushed for 106 yards and Barber added a fourth-quarter touchdown.

"(The running game) always makes a difference," Parcells said. "It does encourage me about this team that we can run and seem to be able to stop the run."

Houston's David Carr was 15-of-27 for 128 yards with two interceptions, both of which were converted into touchdowns.

"That's the key," Dallas safety Roy Williams said. "We jumped in front of some balls and took some chances that came up big for us. We got some turnovers and that led to some points for us."

Defensive end Greg Ellis made a diving interception on a pass by Carr that was tipped at the line of scrimmage and, three plays later, Bledsoe and Owens hooked up to make it 17-6.

On the Texans' next possession, cornerback Anthony Henry stepped in front of a pass intended for Andre Johnson near midfield. The Cowboys then marched 40 yards in seven plays - including a 4th-and-2 conversion on a pass from Bledsoe to Patrick Crayton - and Barber dove in from one yard out to create a 24-6 advantage.

"We got some turnovers in the second half and were able to capitalize on them and that increased our momentum," said Parcells, whose team hosts the New York Giants next Sunday night.

While Carr did not have his best day, he also got little support from the running game. Ron Dayne carried 10 times for just 14 yards and Samkon Gado managed just five yards on four attempts for the Texans (1-4), who ended half of their 12 possessions with punts, in addition to two interceptions and a fumble.

Houston, which upset Dallas in its first game as an expansion team in 2002, will face Jacksonville next week before embarking on a three-game road trip starting October 29.

"We had a lot of 3rd-and-short that we didn't convert on," Carr said. "If it happens once, it's understandable. Four or five times is inexcusable. You can't win football games like that."

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