CANTON, Ohio -- The Dallas Cowboys opened the 2017 season with an exhibition win over the Arizona Cardinals, 20-18, in the 2017 Pro Football Hall of Fame Game at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio, Thursday night.
Down by 15 points less than 10 minutes into the game, the Cowboys scored 20 of the game’s final 23 points to pull out the victory.
Now tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most appearances in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game (six), the Cowboys are 3-3 in the NFL’s exhibition season opener, and the three victories are tied with the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders, Minnesota Vikings, Steelers and New York Giants for the third-most wins in the history of the game.
On the first possession of the game, running back Kerwynn Williams gave the Cardinals an early lead over the Cowboys when he rushed for a five-yard touchdown in the first quarter.
The extra point capped off the eight-play, 75-yard drive and gave the Cardinals a 7-0 advantage with 10:46 to play in the first quarter.
Arizona came out throwing in the first quarter, as reserve quarterback Blaine Gabbert found tight end Ifeanyi Momah for a 13-yard gain on the right side of the field, which preceded modest gains from Williams that set up a third and five from the Cardinals’ 43-yard line.
Then, Gabbert quickly flipped the field with a 35-yard pass to wide receiver Brittan Golden over the middle of the field, and four plays later, the Cardinals got into the end zone for the first score of the game.
Just like they did on their first drive, the Cardinals marched down the field with a mix of passes and runs and scored a touchdown. A touchdown run from Andre Ellington finished off a seven-play drive, and after a two-point conversion, the Cardinals took a 15-0 lead over the Cowboys with 5:18 to play in the first quarter.
After struggling on their first possession of the game, the Cowboys got the passing attack going and rode the hot hand of quarterback Kellen Moore into the end zone.
With the extra point following Moore’s 26-yard touchdown pass to tight end Rico Gathers, the Cowboys cut the Cardinals’ lead down to 15-7 with 1:24 to play in the first quarter.
Earlier in the drive, Moore connected with wide receiver Brice Butler for a 46-yard gain that took the ball from Dallas’ 29-yard line down to Arizona’s 25.
Dallas marched 89 yards in seven plays for its first score of the preseason.
Kicker Sam Irwin-Hill buried a 23-yard field goal and helped the Cowboys cut the Cardinals’ lead down to five points, 15-10, with 7:51 to play in the first half.
Irwin-Hill’s first field goal of the preseason capped off an 11-play, 74-yard drive that featured a 34-yard pass from quarterback Moore to Butler, which moved the ball from Dallas’ 49-yard to Arizona’s 19. Moore led his receiver down the left sideline, and the fifth-year wide receiver out of San Diego State University laid out for the reception.
The Cowboys scored a touchdown on the opening drive of the second half, and that gave them their first lead, 17-15, over the Cardinals with 10:48 to play in the third quarter.
Facing a fourth and three from Arizona’s 14-yard line, quarterback Cooper Rush stood tall in the pocket despite a heavy rush and fired a pass over the middle of the field to wide receiver Uzoma Nwachukwu, who spun into an open field, sprinted toward the end zone and dove across the goal line for the go-ahead touchdown.
The Cowboys marched 75 yards in nine plays and took just over four minutes off the third-quarter clock.
The Cardinals answered a go-ahead touchdown from the Dallas Cowboys with a field goal that put them back in the lead, 18-17, with 3:50 to play in the third quarter.
Handling the placekicking duties after it was announced that former Cleveland Browns kicker Phil Dawson and the other starters for both the Cardinals and Cowboys would not play in the game, Arizona punter Matt Wile converted a 40-yard field goal attempt.
Although the Cowboys committed a penalty on the field goal, the neutral-zone infraction was not enough for the Cardinals to get an automatic first down, and instead, they took the points and the lead.
A 43-yard field goal from Irwin-Hill gave the Cowboys a 20-18 lead over the Cardinals with 10:49 to play in the fourth quarter.
Rush accounted for a 12-yard run and 13-yard pass to wide receiver Andy Jones on the seven-play drive.
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