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NFL Hall of Fame Game 2017 live updates: News, highlights, and scores from Cowboys vs. Cardinals

The Cowboys topped the Cardinals in the first official unofficial game of the season.

NFL: Pro Football Hall of Fame Game-Arizona Cardinals vs Dallas Cowboys Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Hey there, football. Long time, no see. Sure it’s the preseason, but it’s something. In fact, we can point to a full six reasons that Thursday’s Hall of Fame game was anything but a total waste of time.

Final score: Cowboys 20, Cardinals 18

We got a little excitement in the last two minutes. Rod Smith took a page from Zeke and stiff-armed and hurdled a guy on fourth down. The Cardinals got the ball back with under a minute to go, but the Cowboys held on for the 20-18 win.

If only the Cardinals had played Gabbert the entire game ...

Cowboys 20, Cardinals 18 (2:00)

Both teams traded possessions ... somehow. We were watching Megan Rapinoe’s goal while that happened.

All we know is this poor guy really lost track of the ball here:

Cowboys 20, Cardinals 18 (7:03)

Looks up Cardinals roster. T.J. Logan got his shot at running back and ran straight up the middle for a 16-yard gain.

His rhyme twin, Krishawn Hogan, snagged a key first down later.

But then the drive stalled and punter Matt Wile lined up for the field goal. He must have thought he was still punting because he missed baaaadly.

Cowboys 20, Cardinals 18 (10:53)

Rush, uh, rushed for 12 yards and a first down and then connected with Andy Jones for 13 yards. It was enough to get the Cowboys in field-goal range and to get them the lead back.

Third quarter

Cardinals 18, Cowboys 17 (0:00)

Did anything happen at the end of the third quarter? Sorry, we weren’t paying attention.

Cardinals 18, Cowboys 17 (3:54)

Oooh, we’ve got a challenge from Jason Garrett. And a lot of product placement for Microsoft Surface.

The call — that Cardinals running back Elijhaa Penny was down by conduct before fumbling — was upheld.

The Cardinals got the lead back with a 40-yard field goal.

Cowboys 17, Cardinals 15 (9:35)

Sadly, Gabbert’s night is over. Trevor Knight, who is apparently a quarterback and not the dorky best friend of bad boy Cooper Rush on a teen show, is taking snaps for Arizona now. The Cardinals punted a minute after his debut.

Cowboys 17, Cardinals 15 (10:48)

Cooper Rush, who is apparently a quarterback and not a bad boy with a heart of gold on a teen show, starts the second half for the Cowboys.

Gathers showed off his athleticism again, taking a short pass and turning it into a 17-yard gain. Later on that drive, Rush hit Uzoma "E.Z." Nwachukwu (aka one of the stars of the Texans’ season of Hard Knocks) for a 14-yard touchdown, giving the Cowboys their first lead of the game.


Cardinals 15, Cowboys 10 (0:54)

On this drive, Rod Smith, older brother of Jaylon, got the carries for the Cowboys. He’s rushed six times for 25 yards and caught a short pass.

Elliott made an appearance ... to snack on his beard. Gotta feed Zeke.

The Cowboys threatened to score, but Brandon Williams intercepted Moore in the end zone.

The Cardinals attempted a field goal right before the half but it sailed all the way to Cleveland.

Cardinals 15, Cowboys 10 (7:55)

The Gabbert magic could only last so long: He was sacked for a big loss on third down, so the Cardinals had to punt.

Alfred Morris got in on the action with the Cowboys and looked strong running the ball early. His nifty 25-yard run got Dallas to midfield:

Then Butler came through again with a diving grab on third down. But was it a catch? (It was.)

Bruce Arians didn’t care enough to throw a challenge flag, because it’s the preseason, and he’s already made it clear what he thinks of the Hall of Fame Game.

The drive stalled, and Dallas settled for the field goal.

First quarter

Cardinals 15, Cowboys 7

Only the end of the first quarter could stop Gabbert, the GOAT. He stayed perfect with his seventh pass of the game, connecting with Jeremy Ross for a 29-yard pass.

Cardinals 15, Cowboys 7 (1:24)

OK, now Moore is looking Gabbert-esque. He found Brice Butler for a beautiful 46-yard pass and then hit basketball-player-turned-tight-end Rico Gathers for the touchdown grab.

Speaking of quarterbacks, *waves to Tony Romo*:

Cardinals 15, Cowboys 0 (5:18)

Sorry, Tom Brady. We know it’s your birthday and all, but Blaine Gabbert is now the greatest quarterback of all time. He brought the Cardinals right down the field again, going a perfect 3-for-3 again. Andre Ellington punched it in to give the Cardinals another touchdown.

A penalty on the Cowboys during the extra point gave the Cardinals the ball at the 1-yard line, so they decided to go for two. After another Dallas penalty, Gabbert bulldozed in for the two-point conversion.

Cardinals 7, Cowboys 0 (10:00)

No Dak Prescott or Ezekiel Elliott, bummer. Instead, Kellen Moore and Darren McFadden got the start for the Cowboys. Moore was not Gabbert-esque, which is actually a criticism right now, and the Cowboys went three-and-out.

Cardinals 7, Cowboys 0 (10:46)

Don’t expect to see many starters in this game. The Cardinals started with the ball and trotted out ... Blaine Gabbert. Wooooo, get excited!

To be fair, Gabbert was dealing on the first possession. His biggest play came on a 35-yard pass to Brittan Golden, but Gabbert was perfect on the drive, completing all three of his passes. Kerwynn Williams put the Cardinals on the board with a 5-yard touchdown run.

(We’re not completely sure who some of these players are, tbh.)

Before the game

If 2017’s preseason opener between the Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals gets even a coin toss in, it will have exceeded the 2016 Hall of Fame Game. Last year’s scheduled matchup between the Packers and Colts was called off after extreme heat in Canton turned the field’s synthetic turf into a hardened, sticky mess.

At the time, the NFL and NFLPA released a joint statement saying “player safety is our primary concern, and as a result, we could not play an NFL game on this field tonight.​”

The end result was an underwhelming start to the 2016 preseason. Fans who made the trip to Ohio were forced to head home without seeing Aaron Rodgers or Andrew Luck take the field.

2017 promises to be better, if only because the game will actually take place (we think).

If this were the regular season, the headlining matchup would be a showdown between two of the league’s best tailbacks. Cowboys runner Ezekiel Elliott’s premier season was an unrequited success; he topped the NFL and threatened Eric Dickerson’s rookie record with 1,631 rushing yards. On the other sideline is David Johnson, who led the league with 2,118 yards from scrimmage in his second season as a pro.

Of course, we won’t get a chance to see that matchup Thursday. Starters typically don’t last long in the preseason, and the Hall of Fame Game is no exception. In 2015, Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater played just one series in the season-opening exhibition. The Steelers rested the majority of their starters, including Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, and Antonio Brown. The game was, let’s say, less than thrilling.

If Dak Prescott plays, it probably won’t be for long. The Cowboys quarterback earned his starting gig last year when Tony Romo went down with injury during the preseason.

The Cardinals boast a surefire enshrinee in wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and a veteran quarterback, Carson Palmer, who could work his way onto semifinalist lists in the future. Not that either veteran will take the field. Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians already said that he would not be playing any starters — or even backup quarterback Drew Stanton. That leaves quarterbacking duty to Blaine Gabbert in the first half and undrafted rookie Trevor Knight in the second half. Nothing says preseason like that.

The Hall of Fame Game kicks off at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. A live stream is available at NBC Sports.

Pregame reading

The Hall of Fame game is step one in parsing out the Cowboys roster. Here’s what their key position battles look like (Blogging the Boys)

Here are the training camp headliners who could make the biggest impact on Thursday night (Blogging the Boys)

Robert Nkemdiche has looked like a monster in training camp and could have a major impact at the Hall of Fame Game (Revenge of the Birds)

And, just in case you needed a reminder of how awful last year’s game cancellation was... (SB Nation)