PIT 16, DAL 3: Few Standouts as Cowboys Open Preseason w/ Loss

    Wins and losses don't matter in the NFL in August but certainly that doesn't mean games are meaningless. For the men trying to fight their way onto a roster, these games can be life or death to their goals. Unfortunately for the Cowboys' hopefuls, nobody seemed to help their cause in Dallas' 16-3 loss to the in the 2021 .

    With many starters not even making the trip to Canton and others never entering the game, the real were barely to be seen. This was a game for the backups to show their stuff and for 30-plus other contenders to try to earn some additional notoriety and respect.

    Despite the final score it wasn't all bad for Dallas. looked good with the ball in his hands, generating 43 yards on eight carries plus two catches for 16 yards. looked competent in his one quarter of play, going 9/13 for 104 yards.

    On we got a glimpse of 's solid work in coverage and as a tackler. While one big pass was made to against Wright, there was a blatant push-off by Claypool that went uncalled. That flag probably gets thrown if we weren't in preseason.

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    There were smatterings of noteworthy moments, such as destroying a RB who tried to block him or Reggie Robinson making a nice open-field . But this definitely wasn't a night where anyone's stock made a meaningful jump.

    The worst nights seemingly belonged to QB , OT , and WR Reggie Davis. You could also talk about Hunter Niswander as the substitute , but that's really not what he's supposed to be doing anyway.

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    DiNucci will likely be the most-discussed player coming out of this game with his 7/17 passing and an interception thrown. While he had the toughest job of the night, playing in the second half and under constant pressure from poor blocking, Ben still reminded you of the guy who could barely function against the Eagles in 2020.

    Part of that bad blocking was Brandon Knight, who was caught getting beat a few times by pass rushers. Knight can't afford to struggle if he wants to keep his roster spot after Dallas added and drafted at .

    Reggie Davis is one of a few who got looks as return men tonight and muffed a late punt to give Pittsburgh the ball back. While it was only one play, those moments can be killers for guys fighting just to keep hope alive.

    We still have almost two weeks of practices and another preseason game before Dallas has to start making any roster cuts on August 17th. We'll see if the next game has a greater perceived impact on those decisions than this one did.

    Jess Haynie
    Jess Haynie
    Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!


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    I was at the game and was thoroughly disappointed that Dinucci played as much as he did. I thought Gilbert and Rush both made some plays and managed the game well. I was impressed with Dowdle and Parsons in particular. The tight ends were productive as well. There is no reason to commit any more time to Dinucci.

    Garrett N Smith

    Finally…somewhere who will say what others will not. Denunciation is NOT an NFL quarterback!

    Big V

    Every report and article keeps talking about Gilbert, But to me rush made more plays with less. Gilbert took 2 sacks that he didn’t need to take if he would have just got rid of the ball.

    Cowboys fan

    You can’t forget about number 17!! The one that caught a pass inside the 5 or 10 yard line (I can’t remember exactly) and fumbled it away!! The way Rush and Dowdle were playing up to that point, if that idiot didn’t fumble the ball, I think we would of had a touchdown within the next two plays!! And another thing is that same pass by Cooper Rush was beautiful…. He stood in the pocket and took a monster hit, but still delivered a perfect pass!! But again, that idiot had to fumble it and give it to the Steelers!! Luckily it’s only preseason!!

    Cowboy Fan Ed

    I know its early but we better be looking for a reliable back up QB!


    I agree about Rush. He looked sharp last night and I like what he has done in the past. All of the focus on the back up QB needs to be on Rush and Gilbert. Dinucci had a nice scramble last night but against the dregs of the Steelers defense at that point. He may hang around a bit longer but only because Dak is still being held back to be cautious with his recovery.


    What do I see, early or not. 9 and 8. Drop the camp hype please. The defense and offense without the senior players are as porous and smelly as swiss cheese. Mistakes and inability everywhere but then again, that’s preseason. The best thing to come out of Canton was Jimmy Johnson’s Ring of Honor nomination. Great to see Jerry and Jimmy together again. Observations: Denucci has to go. He stinks. Big D has to get a real kicker and cannot rely on Greg the leg who cannot kick outside the 40.


    Greg the Leg I realize was not in Canton, but with his back recovery issues, he cannot be relied upon. He cannot kick outside of the 40. We missed so many chances last year and the way the the preseason game went., I see a long term disaster surfacing. They need to get kicker competition evolving in camp. As for the Canton game, Dowdle was great. He is definitely a keeper.

    Ben Miller

    Knight and Ndweke looked like turnstiles out there. People are complaining about DiNucci but Gilbert threw what should have been an int while rolling left and he fumbled on a strip sack. Sure, 9/14 looks good on a stat sheet but turnovers kill you. Dallas needs to find a competent QB 2.


    I was disappointed in how soft SFehoko plays. He doesn’t stand a chance challenging NFL CBs. I think this is even evident during practices.

    Would like to see more reps for Brandon Smith (kid from Iowa) and Eagles. BSmith reminds me of ACooper, but slightly tougher throughout routes.

    Noah Brown needs to be our full-time Slot WR!!!
    He’s an AnauanBoldin-type receiver how can really help in RedZone. Wouldn’t mind seeing Dak breaking huddle in Doubles-formation with NBrown & Lamb flanking both slots.


    Dowdle showed a nice burst. Hardy looked good. Fullback made a nice catch and run. GG was half decent. Rush maybe a tad better, but about the same.

    Sorry but DiNucci shouldn’t be on the field with that side arm throwing. Don’t know what they see there?

    Defense, Canady, Parsons, Faoliu, Wright showed up.

    We need a QB2. 3 points??? Understand it’s first preseason game and they played a lot of 2nd and 3rd teamers, but…

    gary b

    Parsons looked like he is worthy of the hype. I look for him to be making plays all over the field this year. just seems to have that “It” factor. Agree with VAM Canady looked good and has looked good in camp. He could be a surprise starter this year, especially with the injury issues with Lewis. For being very raw Wright showed us something. Bohanna looked stout at the point of attack and is agile for a big guy. He could be a surprise contributor this year.

    Hard to assess the QBs with such a mish mash line up and 1st preseason game. Will know more moving forward. The Gilbert throw at the goal line should have never been thrown and should have been intercepted. He can’t make mistakes like that.


    Big Ben the bear is a better QB than Ben DiNucci.

    Stephen Gregory

    For all the talk I’ve heard about Fehoko, he looked every bit the part of a late round pick to me. The kind of player every other team passed on until the 5th round. I don’t know what his final stats are but the hype machine is over hyping this player. DINucci? I’ve seen enough and am ready to move on from him. Probably a great guy but it’s not translating to the field.

    albert sko

    ..Keep Gilbert, rid of Rush and Dinooch. As for the others still 3 games left for test flights.

    William Bristol

    Have with other post in which Gilbert’s near int in the end zone was inexcusable. There was no chance except for a pick. This is NOT the guy we want for QB2.