The national story going into tonight’s game was the return of football to Los Angeles. In the end, Cowboys rookie quarterback Dak Prescott stole the show.
Starting in place of Tony Romo and playing the entire first half, Prescott was perfect. He finished the game of 10-of-12 for 139 yards and two touchdowns. The two incompletions were entirely on the receiver, tight end Geoff Swaim, who dropped well-placed passes.
Prescott was poised and decisive at every turn. He executed a variety of plays and converted on third downs. His throws were sharp and placed in ideal spots for receivers. On a 3rd-and-26, Prescott showed off his running to set the team up for a field goal.
Unlike many young quarterbacks, Prescott showed that he could trust receivers to make plays. On the team’s first drive he had two throws to Dez Bryant, one of them for a touchdown, where Dak put the ball high and let Dez do the rest. It was just one of several ways in which Prescott did not look like the typical rookie.
Dallas took at 24-7 lead into halftime. The game opened with a 101-yard kickoff return touchdown by Lucky Whitehead, who made a few guys miss and then found the lane and turned on the jets.
The second half was ugly on both sides of the ball for Dallas. The offensive line could not get the run game going and left Jameil Showers in tough situations. On defense, the Cowboys missed several tackles and failed to get pressure on the Los Angeles quarterbacks. The poor play allowed the Rams to come back and steal the preseason victory.
- To say Prescott outshined Jameil Showers is an understatement, but probably not a fair one for Showers. While both had to deal with the catastrophe that was Chaz Green at left tackle, Prescott got to play with much better talent around him overall. It will be interesting to see if Dallas gives Showers the same opportunities in the next three games.
- As just mentioned, second-year tackle Chaz Green was abysmal. He was called for several penalties and got blown off the line more than once. Most of this was against the Rams’ 2nd and 3rd-team players. There’s still a lot of time until final decisions are made, but tonight had to get the Cowboys worried about their backup tackles.
- Not disappointing was linebacker Mark Nzeocha, who was the standout performer on defense. He seemed to be involved in almost every play, the best of which was an interception on a tipped ball. Nzeocha did fumble it on the return, but that was a small blemish on an otherwise impressive night.
- Another strong defensive player was cornerback Deji Olatoye, who made a juggling interception on top of a few other pass breakups. Building on the interception he had in Week 16 last year, Olatoye is proving to be a consistent playmaker at a position where the Cowboys haven’t seen many of them.
- Swaim wasn’t the only receiver with drops. Andy Jones, perhaps the most hyped of the undrafted rookies in training camp, had two blown chances and one on the team’s final drive with a chance to win. Bad games don’t override all the good you’ve done in practice, but they weigh heavily in the minds of coaches.
- Tonight’s game did nothing to alleviate concerns about Dallas’ pass rush. They had just one sack, courtesy of defensive end Shaneil Jenkins.