NFL HALL OF FAME GAME

Dal­las Cow­boys 20, Ari­zona Car­di­nals 18

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS -

Dal­las Cow­boys tight end Rico Gath­ers (left) catches a 26-yard touch­down pass from Kellen Moore as he is be­ing de­fended by Iron­head Gal­lon of the Ari­zona Car­di­nals dur­ing the first half of Thurs­day night’s Pro Foot­ball Hall of Fame Game at Can­ton, Ohio. It was the open­ing game of the NFL ex­hi­bi­tion sched­ule.

CAN­TON, Ohio — The NFL is back, sort of.

With no stars and few starters on the field Thurs­day night, the Dal­las Cow­boys edged the Ari­zona Car­di­nals 20-18 in the Hall of Fame Game.

At least the turf held up — un­like a year ago, when the game was can­celed for safety rea­sons. The new field passed NFL op­er­a­tions direc­tors’ ap­proval.

Sam Ir­win-Hill (Arkansas Ra­zor­backs), un­likely to beat out Dal­las vet­eran Dan Bai­ley for the place­kick­ing job, made field goals of 23 and 43 yards, the lat­ter pro­vid­ing the win­ning points in the fourth quar­ter.

The open­ing half fea­tured a hand­ful of big plays, with Ari­zona’s third-string quar­ter­back, Blaine Gab­bert, con­sis­tently find­ing open re­ceivers down the mid­dle.

“There were a cou­ple spe­cific plays by the de­fense on those first cou­ple of drives,” Cow­boys Coach Ja­son Gar­rett said. “Blown as­sign­ments on a big third-down con­ver­sion, and it wasn’t phys­i­cal enough. It wasn’t ag­gres­sive enough.”

Dal­las’ Kellen Moore, who missed last sea­son with an an­kle in­jury, had some suc­cess pass­ing down the side­lines, but his sec­ond-quar­ter in­ter­cep­tion by Bran­don Wil­liams in the end zone ru­ined a drive.

With the likes of Car­son Palmer, Larry Fitzger­ald, David John­son, Pa­trick Peter­son and Tyrann Mathieu sit­ting it out, Ari­zona could be pleased with the work of backup run­ning backs Ker­wynn Wil­liams and An­dre Elling­ton, who both scored on short runs.

“It was great to see the of­fense move the ball and get touch­downs on those first two drives,” Fitzger­ald said. “O-line, run­ning game, pass­ing the ball, that was im­pres­sive and I’m happy for ev­ery one of those guys.”

And with Dak Prescott, Ezekiel El­liott, Ja­son Wit­ten, Sean Lee and their strong of­fen­sive line pretty much in­ac­tive, the Cow­boys could point to vet­eran run­ning back Al­fred Mor­ris and re­ceivers Brice But­ler and Rico Gath­ers.

Mor­ris showed off a spin move wor­thy of El­liott on a 25-yard run, But­ler had 78 yards on two catches in the first half, and Gath­ers, a hoops starter at Bay­lor, made a 26-yard touch­down catch.

AP/DAVID RICHARD

AP/RON SCHWANE

Dal­las Cow­boys owner Jerry Jones (right) is greeted by Cow­boys play­ers Dan Bai­ley (5), Sean Lee (50) and Ja­son Wit­ten be­fore Thurs­day night’s Pro Foot­ball Hall of Fame Game in Can­ton, Ohio. Jones will be part of the Hall’s in­duc­tion class Satur­day.

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