Perhaps the Cowboys offense was still trying to recover from the whirlwind trip to the Hall of Fame the weekend before. Or maybe they were in shock from the Ezekiel Elliott suspension that was handed down on Friday.
Whatever the case, the Dallas offense never really got going in its second preseason game of the year, and although the team came back to tie the game later, in the end the Cowboys fell to the Los Angeles Rams, 13-10.
Kellen Moore got the start at quarterback, but was largely ineffective in his two quarters of play. He completed eight of his 17 pass attempts for just 69 yards, as Dallas went three-and-out on its first three possessions of the game and punted on four of its first five. Time ran out in the half on the team's sixth series.
The Cowboys did manage to get on the scoreboard on their first drive of the second frame, though, when Moore drove the offense into the red zone. But with starting left guard candidate Byron Bell getting flagged for his second holding penalty of the possession, the series stalled and the Cowboys had to settle for a 32-yard field goal from Dan Bailey.
On the other hand, the Dallas defense came out hitting, and the Rams fumbled the ball five times in the first half, some of those coming thanks to big blows from the Cowboys. But Dallas could only recover one of those drops, which came at their own 3-yard line, stopping a Los Angeles threat.
Even worse, two of the fumbles recovered by the Rams resulted in a touchdown. After the Cowboys forced L.A. to punt on its first series of the game, Dallas rookie return man Lance Lenoir muffed the ensuing catch and the home team fell on the prize to gain possession at the Cowboys 33-yard line.
Five plays later, Rams quarterback Jared Goff found Robert Woods at the 5-yard line, but the wide receiver was immediately met by linebacker Anthony Hitchens, who jarred the ball loose. Unfortunately, it tumbled into the end zone, where L.A.'s Cooper Kupp fell on the football for the score.
The youngsters and those fighting for roster spots took over in the second half and there were some bright spots. Tight end Rico Gathers, the former Baylor basketball player, again showed he has quality hands, finishing with a game-high 47 receiving yards and a touchdown, the second straight game he has reached the end zone.
The scoring toss, which tied the game at 10-10 late in the third quarter, came courtesy of Cooper Rush, who was outstanding on the night. The rookie quarterback completed his first eight passes, with the last of those a perfect feed to Gathers for the 25-yard touchdown. Overall, Rush was good on nine of his 11 attempts, totaling 104 passing yards for a 136.4 passer rating.
Defensively, rookie Taco Charlton showed why the Cowboys made him their top pick in the draft this year. Using a quick burst, he posted his first sack, but also had a tackle for loss, a quarterback hurry and collected three tackles.
Fellow rookie and sixth-round selection Xavier Woods provided a couple of big hits from his safety spot with two nice third-down stops. He earned seven tackles overall to lead both teams.
Aside from those standouts, the young Cowboys did provide a little excitement at the end of the game, albeit all for not, as they had two shots to add to their point total after L.A. took the lead in the fourth quarter with a 36-yard field goal.
After pinning the Rams deep and forcing a short punt, Dallas took over at the Rams' 38-yard line with just over three minutes left in the game. But three plays later, the ball was snapped before quarterback Luke McCown was ready, the bouncing ball being recovered by the Rams.
McCown then had one last shot as the team got the ball back after the two-minute warning, but the Cowboys couldn't move the chains on four tries. Game over.
Dallas finished the night with 248 total yards, of which just 48 came on the ground. The Cowboys did not earn a single first down via the rush and averaged only three yards per attempt. Not that the Rams were much better. They totaled 271 yards of offense and averaged 3.8 yards per carry. As is typical in these preseason affairs, the two teams combined for 16 penalties for 131 yards.
With the Cowboys now owning a 1-1 record on their exhibition slate, they will return to Oxnard for five more days in California before heading back home to take on the Indianapolis Colts at AT&T Stadium next Saturday night at 7p.m. They'll finish up their final two weeks of training camp at Ford Center at The Star, their practice facility in Frisco.