Among those who managed to stay on the field, the backup quarterback battle once again took center stage. None of the contestants, however, were convincing in their performance.
Garrett Gilbert started the game and worked the team’s first four possessions, completing 7 of 16 passes for 80 yards and a 59.4 passer rating. Cooper Rush was next and himself won four series at the helm. His night ended after completing 7 of 13 attempts for 89 yards and a passer rating of 75.5. Gilbert’s offense led to one field goal while Rush’s effort got two.
The rest of the game was left to Ben DiNucci, who struggled again but at least led the Cowboys to a touchdown. The second-year passer connected on just 6 of 14 attempts for 46 yards and a score of 75.3.
On the other side of the ball, an always encouraging defense was led by Dorance Armstrong, the fourth-year defensive end totaling five tackles and two sacks with a deep pass and near interception at the line of scrimmage in just a first. half-time play.
But it was the rookie class that really shone in defense. Micah Parsons continued to impress, finishing with four tackles in a short night of work, while compatriot Israel Mukuamu tied his strikeout tally.
Rookie linebacker Jabril Cox led all defensemen with seven tackles, a game-high, and cornerback Nahshon Wright once again put on a solid performance. Defensive tackle Osa Odighizuwa and safety half Tyler Coyle also posted a tackle for loss.
The Dallas D came out strong in the Cardinals’ first series. Parsons and linebacker Keanu Neal lifted Arizona tight end Maxx Williams, which then allowed Neal to pull the ball out and fall on it to recover a fumble.
But despite owning Arizona’s 49-yard line, Gilbert and the offense couldn’t take advantage of it. They’ve been hurt in part by some bad shots from Connor Williams, who is trying to prove he can be the backbone. The second of those errors came on a fourth and three-runner up to Arizona’s 20-yard line, which ended Dallas’ scoring threat.
On the flip side, the Cardinals shifted the chains in their next series and roamed the field all the way to the Cowboys 9-yard line. There, they had to settle for a 33-yard field goal after Armstrong sacked Colt McCoy for a 6-yard loss on the third down.
Gilbert finally regained his form early in the second quarter, leaving a nice pass to Cedrick Wilson down the right sideline for a nice 34-yard completion at Arizona 23. This led to a 36-yard field from Hunter Niswander. to equalize the game.
At halftime, however, Dallas was once again behind on the scoreboard. Running back Rico Dowdle hit the ball off his own 32-yard line, with the Cardinals falling on it at 38 for the Cowboys.
Four games later, Arizona was in the end zone, running back Eno Benjamin rushing forward without touching the left tackle to give the home side the advantage.
Dallas managed to take three more points to reduce the deficit to 10-6 at the break. With Rush at the quarterback, the offense covered 55 yards in 11 plays to give Niswander a 38-yard field goal.
Helped by a Cowboys penalty that wiped out a sack on third base, Arizona opened the second half with a long practice that resulted in a 28-yard field goal. Benjamin led the charge, securing the transfer three times for 43 yards, on the night of the Wylie, Texas native, finishing with an average of 10.0 yards per carry.
Dallas responded with its own field goal, a 32-yard rushing accomplishment to Reggie Davis highlighting a 10-play, 57-yard drive. This allowed the busy Niswander to split the studs at 36 yards, with the trade bettor ending the night perfectly in his attempts to place.
Finally, the Cowboys crossed the goal line, their first touchdown scored in the 2001 preseason. With DiNucci now behind center, Dallas ran a 14-play, 80-yard long run as time went on in the last. frame. The quarterback completed 5 of 8 assists over the course of the series, topping it off with a one-yard strike to rookie wide receiver Brandon Smith in the back end of the end zone.
While the score gave Dallas the advantage, it was an advantage they couldn’t cling to. With a pair of baskets, the Cardinals managed to come back and tie the game with just under two minutes left in the fourth quarter, then won it when time ran out.
The first came on a 48-yard kicker from Arizona kicker Matt Prater, who then provided the heroism to home fans with a 47-yard field goal as the clock hit zeros.