It was mostly another low-scoring preseason affair that didn't initially seem all that interesting, but became quite intriguing as the quarters rolled along in a game that saw the Arizona Cardinals hold off the Dallas Cowboys 19-16. It was a night to forget on the health front for the Cowboys, seeing as they lost a total of five (!!) players to injury on the night. It began when starting defensive tackle Neville Gallimore suffered a a reported hyperextended elbow, followed by backup tight end Sean McKeon being carted to the locker room with an ankle ailment, both followed by injuries to receiver Malik Turner (foot), linebacker Anthony Hines (shoulder) and offensive tackle Ty Nsekhe (knee).
That aside, there were tidbits of good to be enjoyed from both teams (and of course the preseason uglies showed their head as well), with Christian Kirk adding some electricity to the contest on a deep catch in the first quarter and, not to be outdone, Cedrick Wilson did the same for the Cowboys -- the latter leading to the first of two field goals for Dallas. One thing the Cowboys could at least appreciate was the fact their defense is flying around, and it was the offense that needed to figure out how to match serve with them for once. It was third-string quarterback Ben DiNucci scoring their first preseason touchdown, and giving the Cowboys a three-point lead in the process after seeing them trail for most of the game.
Overall, it wasn't a pretty outing by DiNucci, but he did just enough to buy himself more time in the backup battle against Garrett Gilbert and Cooper Rush. And speaking of backup QBs, Colt McCoy again proved he has value in the NFL, and that has to make the Cardinals feel good.
Well, that and eking out a win.
Why the Cardinals won
It was an inability to keep a struggling DiNucci out of the end zone that lost them the lead in the fourth quarter, but they at least kept it interesting with Kliff Kingsbury decided to kick a field goal and tie the ball game at 16-16, knowing there is no overtime in the preseason. Attempting to settle for a tie shouldn't have been on the platter for Arizona, though, because McCoy played well and running back Eno Benjamin joined him in impressing the football gods, with Benjamin delivering 50 yards on only five carries as he tries to make a name for himself on the Cardinals depth chart. In the end, however, it was a mostly solid defense wavering that nearly cost them the game, but a struggling Cowboys offense (and then defense) allowed the Cardinals to get just close enough for a game-winning 47-yard boot by kicker Matt Prater.
Why the Cowboys lost
There was definitely some perseverance present for Dallas, having trailed for more than three quarters before the aforementioned touchdown from DiNucci. It took three quarterbacks and more than seven quarters to do it, but it almost gave the Cowboys a comeback victory on the road. It wasn't a game filled with highlights by the Cowboys, but with a big play here and there, they got the job done -- helped defensively by a fantastic two-sack effort from veteran pass rusher Dorance Armstrong and a six-tackle outing from rookie fourth-round pick Jabril Cox. It's too bad the dark side of DiNucci again showed its face in the waning minutes of the game, which wound up giving the Cardinals one more possession, and that's all they needed.
Daryl Worley made up for getting burned by Wilson by punching this ball away. It led to both a recovery for the Cardinals and a touchdown on the subsequent drive -- the first of the game. It kept the Cowboys pressed against the wall for much of the game.
Play of the Game
Considering the Cowboys can't yet buy a touchdown in the preseason, there can only be one that deserves this nod.
Harsh, but fair
"Ben DiNucci needs to stick to his day job. I don't know what that is, but it isn't the NFL. Not. For. Long." -- Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk
The Cowboys will head home to take on the Houston Texans next week while the Cardinals ready to play host to the Kansas City Chiefs.
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