IRVING, Texas (AP) - Wade Phillips keeps saying he likes getting the ball to his best players. So it probably wasn't a coincidence that the first play of his first game coaching the Dallas Cowboys was a pass to Terrell Owens.
Owens caught it for 8 yards, and didn't have another catch in his brief playing time in the preseason opener. The Cowboys still went on to beat the Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts 23-10 on Thursday night, making Phillips a winner in his first game since taking over for Bill Parcells.
"I envision myself getting those chances," Owens said. "The ball was distributed well. … We'll practice hard and get better. This was a great start for us."
Phillips was smiling long before kickoff as he settled into the home sideline at Texas Stadium. His mood only improved seeing Tony Romo complete 10 of 11 passes while leading two long scoring drives and watching Keith Davis intercept a tipped pass and return it 41 yards for a third-quarter touchdown.
Dallas' lead reached 23-3 before the Colts scored a touchdown in the closing minutes against a unit featuring few guys likely to make the 53-man roster. Indianapolis certainly won't fret this result. The Colts went 1-3 in the preseason last year and wound up winning the Super Bowl; they were 0-5 in 2005 exhibition games then won their first 13 regular-season games.
"All in all, we have things to build on," Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy said.
In another exhibition opener Thursday night, Detroit beat Cincinnati 27-26. On Friday night, Atlanta is at the New York Jets, New England at Tampa Bay, Buffalo at New Orleans, and St. Louis at Minnesota.
Romo completed his first four passes, starting with the quickie to T.O., and his last six for a total of 93 yards. The only miss was an overthrow of Owens.
However, Romo missed a wide-open Jason Witten on the overthrow of Owens and he threw to Marion Barber instead of wide-open Anthony Fasano on his final pass. The Cowboys had to settle for field goals on both drives, getting a 24-yarder from Martin Gramatica and a 25-yarder by Nick Folk.
"We were taking what the defense gave us," Romo said. "But at the same time it was fun to move down the field quickly. We got into a good rhythm."
Romo, by the way, didn't hold on either kick. His backup, Brad Johnson, handled duties for Gramatica and punter Mat McBriar did so for Folk.
Peyton Manning played just one drive for Indianapolis, going 3-for-5 for 37 yards. Most of it came on a 28-yard strike to Marvin Harrison, made possible by rookie left tackle Tony Ugoh holding off Dallas' best rusher, DeMarcus Ware. Ugoh is trying to take over the spot vacated when Tarik Glenn retired five days before training camp opened. Manning went into his pre-snap gyrations on the fifth play, a handoff, then threw a weird-looking ball for an incompletion the next down. Facing third-and-9 from the 22, he threw deep into the end zone near three Cowboys and no Colts. He walked to the sideline discussing with Harrison what went wrong and got the rest of the night off.
Kicker Shane Andrus, filling in for resting Adam Vinatieri, kicked a 40-yard field goal at the end of that drive.
"It would have been good to get a touchdown," Manning said. "Any time you can get some points on your first (drive) of the preseason, that's a positive."
Manning's backup, Jim Sorgi, was unable to produce any points, save for the interception returned by Dallas' Davis. Third-stringer Josh Betts' pass was intercepted in the end zone in the fourth quarter. He redeemed himself with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Trent Shelton in the closing minutes.
After Davis' touchdown made it 13-3, the Cowboys stretched the lead with a 2-yard touchdown run by Tyson Thompson, who is coming back from a broken ankle that cut short his 2006 season, and a 47-yard field goal by Gramatica.
At Detroit, Calvin Johnson, the No. 2 pick in the NFL draft, caught two passes for 45 yards late in the first half for the Lions.