The Dolphins hung tough against the Dallas Cowboys before things slipped away in the second half.
Quarterback Dak Prescott ran for a touchdown and passed for two others, both to Amari Cooper, to lead Dallas to a 24-6 victory at AT&T Stadium.
Miami actually had the chance to take a halftime lead but lost a fumble inside the Dallas 10-yard line in the final minute of the second quarter. After leading 10-6, Dallas scored touchdowns on its first two drives of the third quarter.
Kicker Jason Sanders accounted for the Dolphins scoring with field goals of 22 and 33 yards.
Quarterback Josh Rosen made his first start with the Dolphins and performed much better than his final stats — 18-for-39, 200 yards, 61.9 passer rating — would suggest, as he was hurt by some dropped passes. Rosen left the game briefly in the second quarter after being hit at the end of a quarterback scramble and returned shortly after Ryan Fitzpatrick completed a 25-yard pass to Preston Williams on the drive that ended with Sanders’ second field goal.
The Dolphins had a chance to take the lead on the opening possession of the game after Rosen connected with DeVante Parker for a 40-yard pass. The drive ended with Sanders missing a 47-yard field goal.
Dallas’ first offensive play was a 37-yard pass from Dak Prescott to Amari Cooper and it set up Maher’s 28-yard field goal after safety Steven Parker broke up a pass on third down from the Dolphins 10-yard line.
Dallas increased its lead to 10-0 on its next drive when Cooper capped a drive that featured a 33-yard completion to tight end Jason Witten on third-and-20.
The Dolphins got on the scoreboard on their next possession thanks to Rosen completions of 19 yards to tight end Nick O’Leary and 24 yards to Preston Williams off a flea-flicker.
Following Sanders’ 20-yard field goal, the Dolphins appeared to pull off a successful onside when Ken Webster caught the bouncing kick past 10 years but he was flagged for offside.
The Dolphins got the ball back anyway a short time later on McCain’s interception when Prescott tried to go deep with plenty of time to throw.
Sanders kicked his second field goal of the game to cut Dallas’ lead to 10-6, one play after Preston Williams was stripped of the ball in the end zone to prevent an apparent touchdown.
The Dolphins wasted a great opportunity to take the lead in the final minute of the first half when Kenyan Drake lost a fumble on a run on a first-and-goal from the Dallas 7-yard line.
Drake had gained 19 and 11 yards on two screen passes on the drive, which also featured a 26-yard gain on a defensive pass interference penalty.
The second half started ominously for the Dolphins, as Prescott connected with Randall Cobb for an apparent 74-yard touchdown on the second offensive snap, though the play was nullified by penalties on both sides.
But Prescott came right back with a 33-yard completion to Devin Smith and Dallas began to pull away.
The Dolphins offense didn’t take a snap in Dallas territory until midway through the fourth quarter, but that drive ended when tight end Mike Gesicki was tackled short of the marker on a fourth-and-5 from the Cowboys 38.
Dallas then closed out the scoring with a 16-yard run by Tony Pollard.
The Dolphins’ final drive of the game ended with Drake being stopped short on a run on fourth-and-2 from the Dallas 40-yard line.
Dolphins wide receiver Allen Hurns, making his return to Dallas to face his former team, left the game in the first quarter with a concussion after a hit by safety Jeff Heath. In Hurns’ last game for the Cowboys, he sustained a nasty leg injury during a playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks.
Starting left tackle Jesse Davis also left the game in the first half with an arm injury. With Davis out, rookie third-round pick Michael Deiter moved from left guard to left tackle. Cornerback Jomal Wiltz left early in the third quarter with a groin injury.
The Dolphins return to Hard Rock Stadium next Sunday to face the Los Angeles Chargers.