Cowboys vs. Broncos score, takeaways: Josh Johnson throws 2 TDs while Dallas' penalty issues persist from 2021
The Cowboys and Broncos rested their starters in the preseason opener
Joint practices caused the Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos to sit a majority of starters in Saturday's preseason opener, creating an opportunity for the second teamers to showcase why they can contribute in 2022. Josh Johnson stated his case that he still belongs in the league, even if the Broncos are the 14th team he's played for in his career.
Starting in place of Russell Wilson (rest), Johnson threw two touchdown passes in the first half to lead Denver to a 17-7 victory, which wasn't as close as the final score indicated. Johnson's highlight pass was a 40-yard strike to Brandon Johnson, son of former MLB catcher Charles Johnson, as the receiver corralled the pass down the left sideline to get Denver's offense moving. Johnson then found Seth Williams for a 1-yard touchdown three plays later to put the Broncos up 7-0, a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
Johnson also found Kendall Hinton for a 24-yard score on a rainbow touch pass to give Denver a 14-0 lead. He went 16 of 24 for 172 yards and two touchdowns in the first half (120.2 rating) before Brett Rypien relieved him for the remainder of the contest.
Cooper Rush started for the Cowboys in place of Dak Prescott (rest). He finished 12 of 20 for 84 yards with an interception, which came on a fourth-down pass in the first quarter in Denver territory. The Cowboys didn't get on the board until the fourth quarter on a 12-yard pass from Ben Dinucci to Simi Fehoko with 4:56 left. Dinucci went 9 of 16 for 112 yards and a touchdown in the loss.
While many starters didn't play, there was still some storylines that came out of the contest. Below you'll find some takeaways from Saturday's preseason clash.
The Cowboys sat 20 starters in Saturday's game, including Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Tyron Smith, Zack Martin, CeeDee Lamb, Trevon Diggs, Micah Parsons, and DeMarcus Lawrence. Russell Wilson didn't make his debut for the Broncos either, as Denver also rested the majority of their starters in the opener.
The Cowboys and Broncos participated in joint practices this week, hence why the starters didn't play in this one.
Major Broncos injury
One of the starters who did play for the Broncos was inside linebacker Jonas Griffith, who left the game in the first minute with a left elbow injury. Just two plays in, Griffith was out as trainers held his elbow while he walked off under his own power.
Griffith figured to factor into the Broncos' plans on defense, but this injury appears significant. Alex Singleton, who signed with Denver this offseason, will get an opportunity with Griffith's injury diagnosis uncertain.
Penalty issues remain in Dallas
Doesn't matter if the Cowboys are playing the first or second team, Mike McCarthy's team still has massive penalty problems. The Cowboys were penalized nine times in the first half for 65 yards -- this after leading the NFL with 127 last season (7.47 per game). Dallas was also second in the league with penalty yards against with 1,103.
The Cowboys showed signs they are still undisciplined, having a whomping 17 penalties for 129 yards on the night. Preseason opener or not, that's unacceptable.
Who's the No. 2 QB?
Cooper Rush started in place of Prescott and his performance was subpar. Rush played into the third quarter and finished 12 of 20 for 84 yards with an interception as Dallas failed to score in his seven possessions. The Cowboys didn't have a drive go over 34 yards and didn't get past the Denver 38-yard line when Rush played.
Ben Dinucci wasn't that much better, although he did throw a touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter, to get Dallas on the board. What does Dallas do if the backup quarterback play remains lackluster? Do the Cowboys seek to upgrade the position or roll with Rush? Does it even matter if Dak Prescott goes down?
Rush has two more games to improve on this uninspiring performance.
The Josh Johnson show
Johnson started for Russell Wilson and was impressive in the first half as the No. 2 quarterback. The Broncos are Johnson's 14th team in the NFL, yet the veteran signal-caller looked every bit the part of someone who wants to stick around.
Johnson went 16 of 24 for 172 yards and two touchdowns in the first half (120.2 rating), showcasing zip on his passes and excellent leading of his receivers. There are better options for a backup quarterback in the league, but Johnson fills the role nicely.
The 36 year old should be on an NFL roster in 2022. Whether the Broncos choose Johnson or Brett Rypien as the No. 2 quarterback will be determined over the next two weeks.
Brett Rypien had a nice game for Denver, but Johnson seems to have the upper hand as the No. 2 QB. Jalen Virgil seems to be playing his way toward roster spot consideration. He's looking good tonight.
The Cowboys showed signs they are still undisciplined, having a whomping 16 penalties for 124 yards on the night. They led the NFL with 127 penalties last season, 7.4 per game.
Injury update: Delarrin Turner-Yell is being evaluated for a concussion.— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) August 14, 2022
Ben Dinucci in for the Cowboys. Cooper Rush finished 12 of 20 for 84 yards with an interception -- not greta for the No. 2 QB against second teamers.
Brett Rypien missed Stevie Scott for a TD. Scott has to catch it, but Rypien has to throw that ball earlier.
Travis Fulgham just caught a pass for the #Broncos in the third quarter of a preseason game.
The former Eagles WR was one of the best in the #NFL for a five-week stretch in 2020.
From Week 4 to Week 8 in 2020, Fulgham had the most receiving yards (435) in the NFL.
Brett Rypien with a big boy pass to Jalen Virgil. The Broncos really like his speed.
Nice 10-yard punt return by KaVontae Turpin. Handling punt and kickoff returns tonight. Big chance for him to make an impression.— Rob Phillips (@robphillips3) August 14, 2022
Brett Rypien in at QB for the Broncos. Cooper Rush still in for the Cowboys.
The Cowboys have 9 penalties in the first half, including an offsides penalty on a missed FG.
Brandon McManus hit a 52-yarder after missing one from 57 because of the penalty.
Mike McCarthy's team in midseason form it seems.
Kendall Hinton -- who once started a game at QB in the #NFL -- just caught a beautiful TD pass for the Broncos.
Beautiful rainbow pass from Josh Johnson.
KENDALL HINTON!!!!!— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) August 14, 2022