SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Tony Romo got in Sunday's game for one series and got out without injury.
That much went right for the Cowboys' quarterbacks. Not much else did in a 23-6 loss to the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium.
Even Romo, who made a cameo by design in his preseason debut, didn't get as much out of his single drive as the offense would've liked.
"We just wanted to get him some reps early on in the game," head coach Jason Garrett said. "Hopefully convert a third down, get a little drive going."
That didn't happen. Romo handed off twice to running back Darren McFadden for cumulatively no gain. Then he threw a screen to running back Lance Dunbar for a one-yard loss. The 49ers declined an illegal use of hands penalty on left tackle Darrion Weems.
"It's always good to get out and play," Romo said. "I would have liked to go a little longer, but we were just going to go the one series. I pushed to get back in, but the coaches have a plan."
Short night for the Pro Bowl quarterback. Tough night overall for the Cowboys' quarterbacks.
Backup Brandon Weeden played the next three series, completing two of five passes for seven yards, and left the game after taking a blow to the head during a sack.
"He seemed to be fine in talking to him afterwards, but we'll see what the (team's) medical people have to say," Garrett said.
Then, third-stringer Dustin Vaughan wasn't able to capitalize on his solid performance in last week's preseason-opening loss to San Diego.
The second-year quarterback threw two interceptions in the first half against the 49ers' blitzing defense – the first a short pass right into the arms of nose tackle Mike Purcell, who returned it 37 yards for a touchdown – and nearly threw a third pick on third down of the opening drive in the third quarter. Kicker Dan Bailey, who's been close to perfect during training camp, then missed a 43-yard field goal.
"I made some decisions that I wish I would've made or that I could take back," said Vaughan, inactive for all 16 games last year as an undrafted rookie out of West Texas A&M. "The fact of the matter is you can't take them back, so you've got to learn from it.
"Especially as a quarterback, you've got to manage the position that you're put in. You've got to lead the offense, and I didn't do a very good job of doing that today."
Undrafted rookie Jameill Showers might have to done enough to earn a longer look in the remaining two preseason games, however.
After moonlighting on special teams, where he tallied two more tackles for three total in preseason, Showers finished the game behind center in the fourth quarter and led the Cowboys on their lone scoring drive – an 11-play, 72-yard series ending with an eight-yard touchdown pass to rookie receiver Nick Harwell.
But Showers' night wasn't perfect, either: He threw an interception from his own 26 on the Cowboys' final series.
"Stop holding onto the ball, playing with my eyes," he reflected. "Pretty rookie mistakes for the most part."
Romo is likely to play more than one series in Saturday's customary 'dress rehearsal' preseason game against Minnesota.
For quarterbacks one through four, there's room for improvement.
"Our defense has been playing well. We are getting pressure on the quarterback, and that's good to see," Romo said. "Offensively, we have to execute better. We have to know our assignments, and we just need to improve."