LOS ANGELES (AP) — With the Dallas Cowboys’ playmaking stars all sitting this one out, Jared Goff and the Los Angeles Rams’ more modest collection of offensive talent got just enough done to win their preseason opener.
Goff led the Rams on a touchdown drive in the opening minutes, and backup kicker Travis Coons made a tiebreaking 36-yard field goal with 6:11 left in Los Angeles’ 13-10 victory Saturday night.
Goff completed 3 of 4 passes for 34 yards while playing eight snaps in the opener for the Rams, who need the No. 1 pick in last year’s draft to take a big step forward this fall. Just winning any game at the Coliseum was a step for the Rams, who lost the final six home contests of their relocation season last fall.
“It’s a good one to learn from, and I was happy with the win for us,” Goff said.
The Rams punted after Goff’s first three plays, but Josh Forrest recovered the Cowboys’ muffed return. Robert Woods then caught Goff’s pass and fumbled near the goal line moments later, but rookie Cooper Kupp recovered for a score.
Los Angeles’ offense put up 271 yards with Sean McVay calling the plays on his first day on the sideline as the youngest head coach in modern NFL history. While Sean Mannion played most of the game and passed for 144 yards, Goff used the night as a learning opportunity.
“I was trying to do my best to help Sean, and then just try to talk to guys, keep those guys encouraged,” Goff said.
Dak Prescott, Dez Bryant and Ezekiel Elliott were among several starters sitting out for the Cowboys, who didn’t manage a first down until the second quarter and got just nine first downs all game. Elliott was given a six-game suspension by the NFL on Friday for injuring his girlfriend in July 2016.
“We talked to the team about the situation and the importance of focusing on what we can control,” Dallas coach Jason Garrett said of Elliott’s troubles. “We can’t control what the NFL does, and it’s not my place to comment on whether I think it’s justified. … We suspected something like this might happen. We prepared our team accordingly by building it the right way.”
Elliott and Prescott worked out on the Coliseum field before the game and then watched from the sideline in uniform. The Cowboys threw 41 passes in Elliott’s absence, and Darren McFadden was their top ball-carrier with only six rushes.
BIG TIME RUSH: Rookie Cooper Rush threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to tight end Rico Gathers in the third quarter while completing his first eight passes for the Cowboys.
Kellen Moore went 8 for 17 in the first half for the Cowboys, but the offense perked up for Rush, the four-year starter at Central Michigan. Rush also caught the eye of Garrett during the Hall of Fame Game last week, and his exceptional touch on the TD throw to Gathers was undeniably impressive.
Rush went 9 of 11 for 104 yards. Gathers scored in his second straight game.
BUTTERFINGERS: The Rams hung in despite alarming ball security. Los Angeles fumbled six times, but recovered its own fumble four times before losing the last two. Rookie running back Justin Davis looked good while running for 70 yards in his college stadium, but he also fumbled twice.
BIG HIT: Dallas rookie Taco Charlton got his first sack, downing Mannion in the first quarter. The Michigan product took a bit of light criticism after a quiet debut in the Hall of Fame Game. “It looked like he was making some strides,” Garrett said.
NEW GUY: Rams receiver Sammy Watkins watched from the sideline in sweats after arriving in LA earlier in the day. The Rams traded a second-round pick and cornerback E.J. Gaines to Buffalo for the playmaking wideout. Watkins got a big ovation when he appeared on the scoreboard. “He’s obviously a weapon,” Goff said. “His track record speaks for itself, what he’s able to do.”
COOOOOP: Kupp was busy in his first professional game, making two early catches for 35 yards and scoring LA’s only touchdown while lining up all over McVay’s formations. The Rams chose the prolific Eastern Washington product in the third round, hoping to add playmakers to the NFL’s worst offense.
INJURY: Dallas tight end Connor Hamlett was taken off the field on a cart, and he left the locker room on crutches with his right foot in a walking boot.