2017 NFL Hall of Fame Game Recap: Arizona Cardinals vs. Dallas Cowboys

On August 3, 2017 the NFL held their annual Hall of Fame Game as scheduled. Last year the Hall of Fame Game between the Indianapolis Colts, and the Green Bay Packers, got canceled due to poor field conditions. This year, however, the Dallas Cowboys and the Arizona Cardinals met to play the annual NFL Hall of Fame Game. This game is the first of the NFL 2017 preseason.

To start the game the Arizona Cardinals won the coin toss and elected to receive the ball. S.Irwin-Hill of the Dallas Cowboys kicked 65 yards to the end zone, for a Cardinal touch back. That started the opening Cardinal drive at the Arizona 25 yard line. The Arizona Cardinals started Blaine Gabbert at Quarterback instead of 2nd string QB Drew Stanton. Gabbert would take advantage of this.

First and ten at the Arizona 25, the drive would begin. Gabbert threw a pass short right to WR I.Momah bringing the ball to the Arizona 38 for 13 yards. First down, on Gabbert’s first pass. Two short runs later, Gabbert would line up in a Shotgun form and delivered a deep pass over the middle to B. Golden for a 35 yard gain. Moving the ball to the Dallas 22, J. Heath of the Cowboys gets his second tackle.

First and ten, on the Dallas 22. Hurry up offense, K. Williams goes for a three yard run to the Dallas 19. Gabbert passes short over the middle again to I. Momah and again for another first down. A nine yard gain up to first and goal at the Dallas ten. K. Williams runs the ball for a five yard gain. It worked then, it’ll work again. K. Williams goes for another five yards and boom, Cardinals touchdown! The point after is good by Kicker R. Leone.

Now leading 7 – 0, the Cardinals kick 51 yards to K. Smith who returns the ball up to the Dallas 26 for a 12-yard return. After that, the Cowboys go three and out and punt on fourth and two at the Dallas 34. S.Irwin-Hill punts the ball 45 yards out of bounds. Penalty called on Dallas, Unnecessary Roughness, K. Frazier, 15 yards. After that Gabbert gets sacked for a two-yard loss, ball now on the Arizona 34. Ellington would run for no gain on the next play. Gabbert drops back into shotgun and deliverers a deep pass again over the middle for a 20 yard gain to the Dallas 46.

First and ten on the Dallas 46. Gabbert passe short right to J. Nelson for a four yard gain. Next play, Gabbert throws deep middle to I. Momah for 26 yards. First and ten on the Dallas 16, Ellington rushes for 13 to the Dallas 3 now. Next play, Ellington get the TD with a run. The Cardinals go for the extra two and get it with a run up the middle by Gabbert.

The Cowboys would go a drive next for their first touchdown of the game. And the rest of the first quarter would be a small display of deep pass attempts by both the teams. That Said, towards the end of the quarter with a little under three minutes to go, you could see the Arizona defense begin to struggle. The Cowboys also saw it and used it to their advantage quickly. End of the first quarter the was Arizona 15, Dallas 7.

The Cardinals would start the 2nd quarter with a quick 3 and out ending in a punt. The Cowboys would then go and an impressive drive. Using some nice passes and a Pass Interference Call against Arizona, Dallas would move the ball down to the Arizona five yard line. The Cardinals defense would hold strong through and force Dallas to settle for a field goal.

Following a bad kick by Dallas, the Cardinals would go for another three and out punt. Another penalty riddled, but still impressive drive for Dallas would end in a Cardinals interception in the end zone resulting in a touch back. Gabbert would help his team move down the field quickly and set up a field goal attempt for Kicker R. Leone. From 51 yards away, Leone’s kick would miss wide left and leave two seconds on the clock. Dallas QB K. Moore would take a knee and let the time in the first half expired.

To start the 2nd half of the game the score was Arizona 15, Dallas 10. The Cowboys receive the kick at the start of the 2nd half and go on a lengthy drive. However yet again, Dallas would stall out in Cardinal territory and were forced to settle for a punt resulting in a touch back. T. Knight takes over for Gabbert as the Cardinals start their drive. Arizona would do like Dallas here and punt after a penalty filled quick three and out.

The Cowboys would again do the same and punt on fourth down and pick up yet another penalty. Following that the Cardinals take the ball down field and get Dallas to waste a Challenge and end the drive with a 40-yard field goal by M. Wile. Wile would then kick off for resulting in a touch back.

Dallas would then start their drive on their own 25. C. Rush would now QB for Dallas and would lead the drive until being forced to punt on fourth down to the Arizona 6 where the ball was downed. One short run later and the third quarter was over. The score Arizona 18, Dallas 17 and closing in.

On the next drive, the Cowboys would take the ball all the way to the Arizona 25. However, the Arizona defense held up again and forced Dallas to settle for another field goal, this one by S.Irwin-Hill from 43 yards. Arizona would now get the ball back and see what they could do with it.

Arizona went on a long steady drive but just couldn’t reach the end zone and took a field goal try instead. This time from 34 yards by Wile and R. Leone holding. Again the kick misses wide left and Dallas takes over. The Cardinal defense would hold again and force another Dallas fourth down punt. But the Dallas defense would respond the same way and the Cardinals had to punt on fourth down.

Next Dallas would again be forced to punt. But not until they had picked up big plays and penalty that helped them get the ball down field. Dallas also managed to have Arizona use all three of their time outs and they were able to get the clock under the two-minute warning. Arizona wisely declined a delay of game penalty that forced the Dallas punt.

The score now, Arizona 18 Dallas 20 and with only 42 seconds left the Cardinals suddenly have a slight chance to win it. T. Knight then leads a series of hurry up passes each followed by a spike to stop the clock. However his last spike, the official claimed, didn’t stop the clock before it expired. Arizona claimed to still have one second on the clock but their argument wasn’t heard. The final score, Dallas 20 Arizona 18.

To quickly summarize the game, I would call it entertaining. Arizona’s 4-3 and 4-2 defenses were great in the game and Gabbert’s performance was impressive for a third string QB especially. I think if Arizona had better preserved their time outs they most likely would’ve won the game. And also if the Cardinals had hit either of their two missed field goals they likely would have won the game as well. Could this be another year of field goal trouble for Arizona? Only the regular season will tell us that I’m sure.

The Cowboys looked impressive late in each quarter an late in the game and they found a small rhythm often during the game. However, they had trouble making things happen in the red zone and often had to settle for punts or field goals. Also, they ran the same deep outside streak repeatedly during the game and that resulted in an interception in the end zone. That said, they found a way to make it work and they got the win.

All in all, it was the best preseason game I can remember seeing. It had everything a football fan has been longing for since the end of their season last year. It had blocking, deep passes, power runs, some special teams play, excitement, and it came down to the last possession and the very final second of the game. I personally believe there was one second on the clock and it defiantly could’ve made a difference in the result of the game. The question I ask is, would Arizona have made the 40-yard field goal to win the game as the last second ran off the clock? We’ll never know now, but I think they just might have. Either way, it was a great game to start the NFL year with.