IRVING, Texas– The final stat line and final score didn't reflect the positives Jason Garrett saw in Kellen Moore's first career start this past Sunday at Buffalo -- and the 26-year-old quarterback will lead the offense again in the Jan. 3 season finale against Washington, the Cowboys' head coach confirmed.
"I think he'll learn from those experiences, get another week of practice under his belt and give him another opportunity," Garrett said Monday, 24 hours after the Bills handed Dallas its 11th loss of the season, 16-6, at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Moore completed only 13 of 31 passes against the Bills for 186 yards, no touchdowns and an interception for a 48.6 quarterback rating. For the first time since 2001, the Cowboys (4-11) have not scored a touchdown in four regular-season games.
Yet Moore – a fourth-year veteran without a single regular-season snap on his pro résumé before he replaced Matt Cassel on Dec. 19 against the Jets – has energized the offense in six and a half quarters of play.
"He did a lot of good things in the game," Garrett said. "Statistically it wasn't an overwhelmingly positive line score for him, but I think if you watch him play, he operated well in the game. He did a lot of good things against a challenging defense in his first start.
"They have a lot of different fronts, a lot of different pressures, a lot of different coverages behind those pressures, and I just thought he managed all of that fairly well. Our third downs got significantly better. We were 7 out of 14, and unfortunately collectively as an offense, we weren't able to move the ball consistently well enough down the field and make the plays we needed to."
The seven third-down conversions against Buffalo were the most since Nov. 22 at Miami, Tony Romo's final full start of the season before fracturing his collarbone four days later against Carolina and eventually landing on injured reserve.
Moore also had four pass completions over 20 yards, second only to Matt Cassel's five in his first Cowboys start Oct. 25 at the Giants.
"Hadn't started a game in a while, but I think we started off well," Moore said after the game. "We drove down the field, made some plays and got a field goal early on and then we weren't able to sustain that as well as we had hoped."
The Cowboys drove into Buffalo territory seven times, tying a season high. They simply had difficulty again finishing drives with points.
"I think this game illustrates the limited opportunities you get in a ballgame," Garrett said. "We had eight drives offensively. We kicked two field goals, we missed a field goal, we had an interception and we punted it four times. A couple of those situations we got into the fringe area and got a little sticky and we couldn't get through there. Some of the drives got bogged down because of penalties, we got behind the chains, and I think if you look at the ballgame you say, OK we ran the ball fairly well. Darren McFadden had a good game for us, made some dirty runs, made some big runs.
"The passing game, we made some plays. Bigger plays than we've made in recent weeks. But again it's hard to score points if you don't sustain the drives or you make a big play to score a touchdown. We didn't do either of those things."
Eliminated from playoff contention, Moore and the offense get one more opportunity this season against the Redskins (8-7), who clinched the NFC East this past Saturday night.