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Sports Rams slip past Cowboys in 1st game back in LA

Rams slip past Cowboys in 1st game back in LA

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Dallas’ Dez Bryant caught a 10-yard touchdown pass, but the Los Angeles Rams earned a win in their homecoming when Sean Mannion threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Green with 1:54 remaining for a 28-24 comeback over the Cowboys at the Coliseum on Saturday.

Bryant had two receptions for 28 yards, including a leaping catch on the sideline against cornerback Coty Sensabaugh for 18 yards. He played one series before leaving the game.

Quarterback Tony Romo, rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott, tight end Jason Witten and left tackle Tyron Smith were held out of the game for Dallas.

Rams running back Todd Gurley and defensive end Robert Quinn also did not play, as a crowd of 89,140 saw Cowboys wide receiver Lucky Whitehead score on a 101-yard kick return to welcome the NFL back to Southern California after a 22-year absence.

No. 1 overall draft pick Jared Goff had an up-and-down debut after replacing Case Keenum early in the second quarter, completing 4 of 9 passes for 38 yards and an interception.

After being hit by Cowboys linebacker Derek Akunne, Goff’s second pass was a wobbly throw that was easily picked off by Mark Nzeocha.

On his next possession, Goff nearly put the Rams in position to pick up points before halftime but rookie Pharoh Cooper dropped a pass in the red zone. Goff was sacked on the next play to end the second quarter.

Goff didn’t return in the second half after his non-throwing shoulder became stiff. Coach Jeff Fisher planned to give Goff two or three more series. Neither Goff nor Fisher believed the injury was serious.

Keenum started and played three series, going 6 of 7 for 58 yards. Benny Cunningham scored on a 14-yard run with 1:33 left in the first quarter for the Rams’ first points in the stadium where they first played after arriving from Cleveland in 1946 until moving to Anaheim at the end of the 1979 season.

Mannion threw three touchdown passes in the second half to rally the Rams.

Cowboys rookie Dak Prescott started in place of Romo and made a strong case to back him up after Kellen Moore broke his ankle in practice last week. Prescott was 10 of 12 for 139 yards and two touchdowns, with both incompletions coming on drops by Geoff Swain.

The fourth-round pick out of Mississippi State looked poised behind the strong Cowboys offensive line, finding Terrance Williams for a 32-yard touchdown with a perfectly placed throw over Lamarcus Joyner.

ROOKIE WATCH

Cowboys: Running back Darius Jackson showed some nice burst, rushing for 47 yards on 13 carries. But most of the Cowboys’ draft class was unavailable. Second-round pick Jaylon Smith is recovering from a serious knee injury the linebacker suffered in the Fiesta Bowl. Defensive tackle Maliek Collins (foot) and end Charles Tapper (back) are also dealing with injuries, but should be available later in the preseason.

Rams: Fourth-round pick Tyler Higbee has been the star of training camp and kept it up with five catches for 49 yards. The tight end from Western Michigan was equally effective whether working split out wide, where he broke a tackle on a 14-yard reception from Goff, or on the line of scrimmage. Higbee didn’t get to show off his aptitude in the red zone, but looks like a valuable addition to an offense that lacks reliable options.

POSITION BATTLES

Cowboys: Jamiel Showers had his moments in the second half, including a 47-yard completion to Vince Mayle after narrowly escaping a sack, but Prescott’s performance looks to have justified the decision by owner Jerry Jones not to add a veteran quarterback after Moore got hurt.

Rams: The rebuilt secondary struggled in its first outing after losing free agent cornerback Janoris Jenkins to the New York Giants. Seeing Sensabaugh struggle to contain Bryant wasn’t a surprise, but seeing Williams and Cole Beasley running free was troubling. Joyner seems to be a better fit at nickel back, while Sensabaugh’s issues mean a starting cornerback job is almost certainly E.J. Gaines’ to lose.

QUOTABLE

Cowboys: “I think the best thing about Dak is that he is extremely calm,” Bryant said of Prescott. “It’s like he’s been here before. He’s not playing like a rookie. He is going to be very good; he’s special.”

Rams: “I had to remind them it was a preseason game,” Fisher said. “It was as if we had just clinched the playoff as far as they were concerned.”

PRICEY PREMIERE

Fans attending the game could buy premium beer for $16 or a $29.99 commemorative shirt, but the biggest sticker shock likely came when trying to park. Only season-ticket holders can use the lots at the Coliseum or on the Southern California campus next door, allowing enterprising locals to seek up to $100 for a parking spot.

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