Cowboys Offense Continues to Struggle Against Cardinals in Preseason Loss

cowboys cardinals
(Vernon Bryant / Staff Photographer)

The drought is finally over and the Cowboys have scored a touchdown for the first time this preseason. It took almost every second of seven quarters of football for the offense to get in the endzone this preseason, but the one-yard strike from Ben DiNucci to Brandon Smith late in the third quarter against the Arizona Cardinals gave Dallas their first lead of the game.  

Arizona battled back in the fourth, scoring two field goals including the game-winner as time expired. The final score from Glendale, Arizona was 16-13. The Cowboys are now 0-2 in the preseason. 

Preseason scores are not nearly as important as seeing how the different combinations of players perform in game-like decisions, and with that in mind, Cowboys fans have some worries. So far this preseason, the only points scored by the starters have come off the foot of punter-turned-place Kicker Hunter Niswander. 

Expected backup QB Garrett Gilbert had an eerily similar outing against the Cardinals as he did against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Hall of Fame game last Thursday. Gilbert went 7 of 16 for 80 yards with no scores and no interceptions bringing his preseason performance total to 16 of 29 and a completion rate right around 55 percent.  

Niswander was kicking again this week filling in for regular place Kicker Greg Zuerlein who has yet to suit up for Dallas as he rehabs from offseason back surgery. Niswander was perfect on the day, hitting two field goals from 36 yards and another from 38 yards. Niswander also kicked the extra point following the Cowboys’ sole touchdown of the game. 

The newly revamped Defense Mike McCarthy has implemented is showing its stuff early in the preseason. Newly-signed safety-turned-Linebacker Keanu Neal forced a fumble on the Cardinals’ first possession, ripping the ball from the grasp of Cardinals Receiver Maxx Williams after a short pass from QB Colt McCoy.  

Dorance Armstrong picked up his first preseason sack on a 3rd and 7 from inside the 10-yard line that shut down a 70-yard drive by the Cardinals and forced a field goal. Armstrong made a second sack on McCoy in the second quarter. On the same drive, Ron’Dell Carter got credit for a 9-yard sack that may have been blown dead prematurely.  

The Cowboys’ defense shut down three first-half drives, allowing for one field goal and one touchdown. The Cardinals’ touchdown score came on a turnover by the Dallas offense. Running Back Rico Dowdle took a short swing pass from Cooper Rush and put the ball on the turf as he tried to extend for an extra yard. The turnover gave the Cardinals the ball on the Cowboys’ 36-yard line.  

The Cowboys run-game suffered throughout the game, with Jaquan Hardy and Dowdle each carrying eight times for a total of 57 yards. The Cowboys amassed a paltry 108 yards on the ground, including scrambles by Rush and DiNucci that accounted for 19 yards.   

The Cowboys host in-state rival Houston next week. Cowboys QB Dak Prescott may play in that game as he has been rehabbing a shoulder strain suffered in training camp. Prescott has been held out of all throwing activities thus far in the offseason and has yet to take a snap after suffering a season-ending ankle fracture last year.  

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