ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Tim Tebow showed off his fancy moves on a wild play that didn't even count.
Tebow's failed scramble just before halftime stood as the play of the game, until Stephen McGee — another option quarterback in college — ran around to throw a 13-yard touchdown pass and a two-point conversion with 15 seconds left, giving the Dallas Cowboys a 24-23 victory over the Denver Broncos in a preseason opener Thursday night.
Tebow led the Broncos to two field goals in four drives.
His first scoring series started at Denver's 10 and included a 43-yard pass perfectly lofted into double coverage. The other drive, however, started 7 yards from the end zone and wound up moving backward.
That series began with Tebow running it into the end zone on first down, but a holding penalty wiped it out, shoving the Broncos back to the 17. On third down, Tebow ran almost to the left sideline, back to the middle of the field, then tossed the ball to a waiting receiver for a short gain. However, Tebow crossed the line of scrimmage before ever cutting back, a lineman illegally went up the field to block and another teammate clobbered one of the Cowboys in the back. Dallas declined them all, forcing the Broncos to kick a field goal. When Tebow went to the sideline, new Denver coach John Fox spoke to him gently, patting him on the helmet at the end of the chat.
"For a young quarterback, he did very well," Fox said.
Tebow's numbers were good. He completed 6 of 7 passes for 91 yards. He also ran twice for 15 yards. But it remains to be seen how much his overall performance helped in his bid to unseat veteran Kyle Orton.
Orton led the Broncos 74 yards on his lone series, much of it on runs against a Dallas defense now coordinated by Rob Ryan. Orton misfired on three straight throws from the Dallas 6, forcing Denver to settle for a field goal.
Orton finished 2 of 6 passes for 37 yards. Brady Quinn — who is probably Tebow's real competition, for the main backup slot, was 8 of 14 for 120 yards and an 8-yard touchdown to Eron Riley.
Denver also got a 13-yard TD run from Jeremiah Johnson.
Tony Romo played in his first game for Dallas since breaking his collarbone in the sixth game last season. He completed his first three passes — the first to Chris Gronkowski, the fullback whose missed block led to Romo's injury — and finished 3 of 5 for 33 yards. The Cowboys scored a field goal on his only series.
After Jon Kitna got in for a series, Dallas coach Jason Garrett — who was in charge of a preseason game for the first time — turned things over to McGee, the third-stringer who won the finale last season.
McGee went 14 of 24 for 208 yards with three touchdowns. He hit Raymond Radway for a 13-yard, threw a short pass that Dwayne Harris turned into a 76-yarder and found Harris again for the pivotal score. McGee threw the winning conversion to Martin Rucker.