ARLINGTON, Texas – The Cowboys had two previous preseason games in which they lost commanding leads late in the game. This was not the case as they fell behind early and never recovered, needing a late field goal to avoid a shutout.
Obviously, it's still the preseason and the Cowboys didn't exactly treat this third exhibition game like usual, resting a lot of key players. The Cardinals played more starters and it showed, as they dominated in the 27-3 win.
This spot is usually saved for the five plays that changed the game. But in the preseason, let's focus on five other players and/or aspects of the game. So this preseason version will include players, stats and sometimes plays that get overlooked.
No Zeke For Preseason: For the first time in his young career, Ezekiel Elliott will enter a regular-season without taking a snap in the preseason. Last year, he only played in one game, getting six carries. In his rookie season of 2016, he only played once as well, although he shined in limited time against Seattle. But this year, the Cowboys aren't taking any chances, sitting him Sunday night along with other key starters. The fact he didn't play at all in the first two games this year means he will be done until Sept. 9 at Carolina.
Rico Update: Every week, it seems to be something from Rico Gathers. Sunday night, he led the team in catches with five, on seven targets. While the tight end played mostly in the second half, racking up 30 yards, there were a few more good moments from the former basketball player. Gathers has a way of hauling in passes that aren't always clean. He'll juggle a pass here and there, but his strong hands usually comes up with the ball. Only the coaches will know how well he did on his assignments, but he's still coming up with receptions every time out. That has to count for something.
Gregory's Attention: No one is sleeping on Randy Gregory anymore. His play isn't something anyone is forgetting about. But remember this, the Cardinals made sure to find him in their blocking schemes and it still didn't matter. Even on the sack Gregory made in the first quarter, he was double-teamed by the running back and left tackle and he still used his power, his speed and a spin move to get to the quarterback for a sack. Another play he had great pressure off the edge occurred despite a double-team block. Let's not forget, DeMarcus Lawrence is on that other side with his 14.5 sacks from last year. You can't double all of them.
Not So Wide – Of the five receivers who are expected to make the team, only two players caught a pass as Cole Beasley hauled in three balls for 31 yards in his first preseason game of the year. Terrance Williams also had one catch for five yards. But it was evident that Cooper Rush didn't look to get the ball down the field much to the receivers in the game. Tavon Austin and Michael Gallup each didn't catch a pass to a combined three targets and Allen Hurns played but didn't have a catch. Other than that, it was mostly a night for the running backs and tight ends catching passes.
Mistakes, Mistakes – After 13 flags in Week 1, the Cowboys had just six penalties in last week's preseason game. But Sunday night was back to a flag-fest again. The Cowboys were called for 11 penalties for 73 yards. That was just part of the sloppiness as the team fumbled six times, losing five, and had three more interceptions. The offensive line also allowed five sacks. When Jason Garrett said "there is a lot of work to do," all he has to point to is the amount of mistakes that occurred in this game alone.