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Further Review: So What Really Happened in LA?


The build-up was incredible, not just for the Cowboys and Rams, but the start of the entire NFL season after what was a unique offseason.

However, the Cowboys didn't exactly live up to the hype, struggling on both offense and defense, and even some on special teams. All of that led to the Cowboys' 20-17 loss in Los Angeles.

Let's take a look back at what exactly happened against the Rams, analyzing what it all means moving forward.

  • Player of the Game: The best player on the field appeared to be Ezekiel Elliott once again. His stats weren't exactly the best we've seen, but just watching him, he looked as crisp, fresh and explosive as ever. Still, he rushed for 96 yards and had 31 more in receiving with two touchdowns.
  • Nemesis: Wide receiver Robert Woods was giving the Cowboys' secondary problems throughout the game. Woods led the Rams with six catches for 105 yards and had timely receptions that always seemed to move the chains when the Cowboys were trying to get off the field. He wasn't scoring the touchdowns but Woods kept putting the Rams in position.
  • Unsung Hero: His performance wasn't exactly heroic, but let's give some credit to rookie Terence Steele for starting at right tackle in his first NFL game. He had some issues early and then another late in the game when he gave up a sack in the final drive. But he battled throughout the game and showed why the Cowboys' coaching staff chose to start him over veterans Cam Erving and Brandon Knight.
  • Turning Point: The most controversial play of the game was Mike McCarthy's decision to go for it on fourth-and-3 from the Rams' 11 early in the fourth. A short pass to CeeDee Lamb over the middle was stopped shy of the first down marker and the Rams took over possession, leading by three. The Cowboys would never get close enough to even attempt another field goal and lost the game 20-17.
  • Need More From ... : The Cowboys have some dynamic pass rushers in DeMarcus Lawrence and Everson Griffen. But on Sunday, they didn't have a big impact in the game. In fact, both were flagged for neutral-zone infractions. Lawrence was credited with just one tackle, while Griffen had two. The only sack of the game for the Cowboys came from Aldon Smith.
  • Don't Forget ... : A key play in the game occurred just two plays before McCarthy's decision to go for it. 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.
  • Remember Me? Former Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein was released in the offseason and wouldn't you know his first game in Dallas would be against his former team in LA. Zuerlein missed his first field goal attempt of 53 yards, but connected on a shorter kick later in the game. The Cowboys also had assistant coaches Skip Peete and John Fassel coaching their first games back in Dallas against their former teams.
  • So, That Happened: Defensive tackle Antwaun Woods found himself in a rotation on defense throughout the game. But he also made his offensive debut at fullback down on the goal-line. Woods was the lead blocker for Ezekiel Elliott on his 1-yard touchdown run. The 320-pound tackle has always been rather athletic for his size. He exploded off the ball and locked up with a defender to help Zeke get into the end zone. The Cowboys don't have a true fullback on the roster with Jamize Olawale choosing to opt out before the season.
  • Milestone: Cornerback Brandon Carr, who was elevated from the practice squad on Saturday, did not play in the game. His streak of 192 starts to begin his career was snapped. Carr and Peyton Manning are the only two players in NFL history to start every game for the first 12 seasons of their career.
  • Stat of the Game: The Cowboys were just 3 of 12 on third-down conversions, while the Rams were 9 of 17 on the other side of the ball. Simply put, the Cowboys couldn't stay on the field to extend possessions and couldn't get off the field on defense.
  • Injury Watch: The Cowboys lost more than just the game as both Blake Jarwin (knee) and Leighton Vander Esch (collarbone) were injured in the first half and didn't return. Jarwin has a torn ACL and will miss the rest of the season while Vander Esch is expected to miss anywhere from 4-8 weeks.

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