LOS ANGELES – This game certainly had a different feel about it, with no fans in attendance. It had storylines before the game with the national anthem. And then during the game, there were controversial penalties and decisions.
But the Cowboys lost to the Rams 20-17 for many reasons, including plays that went against them early on.
Here are five plays that might go unnoticed, but still played a factor in the outcome.
Here are the five plays you can't forget about:
D-Law's First Play – Do you believe in signs? Maybe it was just bad omen to start the season and the game, but the neutral-zone infraction by DeMarcus Lawrence on the first play of scrimmage didn't help matters. Yes, it was just five yards and gave the Rams a first-and-5, helping them get into a groove that led to a touchdown. It also might've put the Cowboys' pass rush in a funk the entire game. The Cowboys had one more offsides penalty and never really put much pressure on Jared Goff, who was sacked only once and the official stat sheet had just three hits on the quarterback. The penalty set the tone for the defense in a negative fashion.
Donald Gets to Dak – The Cowboys were on the move on their first drive of the game, trying to get on the scoreboard trailing 7-0. On second-and-9 from the Rams' 45, Aaron Donald got through the line and dropped Dak Prescott for a nine-yard loss. That put the Cowboys way behind the chains and led to an eventual punt. The way the offense was spreading the ball around early, it appeared the team was in prime position to score before that sack. In a game like this, possessions were critical and that sack ended a chance for the Cowboys to score.
Short misfire proves costly – In the second quarter, the Cowboys trailed 10-7 but were driving into Rams territory thanks to a few nice plays from Zeke, CeeDee Lamb and Tony Pollard. It was first down for the Cowboys at the Rams' 38 when Dak failed to connect with Zeke out of the backfield on a play that could've picked up a few yards, perhaps a first down. Instead, the Cowboys got only three more yards on the next plays and Greg Zuerlein missed a 53-yard field goal to the right. That first down play put the Cowboys in bad shape to try and either tie the game or take the lead.
Third-down incomplete to Cooper – The Cowboys were down 20-14 and just got an interception by Chido Awuzie. A pass interference penalty on the Rams and another first down later, the Cowboys had the ball inside the 20. But on third-and-5, Dak's pass to Cooper seemed to surprise him over the middle and the incomplete pass led to a field goal. The Cowboys had a shot to score a touchdown and take the lead, but that was a wasted opportunity and proved to be the final points of the night for Dallas.
Schultz can't handle Dak's pass – On second-and-6 from the Rams' 14, Dak was on the move to his right and fired a pass to tight end Dalton Schutlz that would've been enough for a first down. But there was some extra heat on the pass and Schultz couldn't quite get both hands on it in time. The incomplete pass set up third down, which was a short run to Zeke. Of course, the fourth down decision to go for it will be discussed over and over but the incomplete to Schultz might have been just as big.