With zero fans in attendance Sunday night, the $5 Billion SoFi Stadium hosted its first NFL game, between the Los Angeles Rams and the Dallas Cowboys.
Time of possession was a significant factor in the Rams 20-17 victory over the Cowboys Sunday night, with LA controlling the ball for 35:38 of the game.
Despite the Rams jumping out to an early 7-0 lead on their first drive following a Malcolm Brown one-yard rushing touchdown, they would find themselves down 14-13 heading into the half.
Ezekiel Elliot lit up the scoreboard in the first half, scoring the Cowboys first touchdown of 2020, on a 19-yard pass from quarterback Dak Prescott 2:36 into the second quarter. LA kicker Samuel Sloman made field goals from 35 and 31 yards, respectively, within six minutes of each other midway through the second.
Zeke picked up his second score following a one-yard rushing touchdown with 17 seconds remaining in the second. Elliot’s score came two plays after a review reversed a Prescott rushing touchdown.
Dallas had an opportunity to take a more considerable lead coming out of the half but punted after gaining only 21 yards on seven plays. LA capitalized on the Cowboys misfortunes, with Brown punching in his second score, a two-yard rushing TD, 5:33 remaining in the third quarter.
On fourth-and-3 at the Rams 11-yard line, Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy decided to keep his team’s offense out on the field and go for the conversion. Prescott connected with rookie wide receiver CeDee Lamb on a two-yard pass, but Dallas needed three for a first down. It marked the first big-time decision in the McCarthy era.
“We needed to find a way to win it, and we didn’t get it done. I thought we did a real good job getting ready. We are playing a team that has experience. You can see how efficient they are on offense in their fourth year. Our defense played a lot of snaps.”McCarthy said postgame
LA head coach Sean McVay and the Rams converted their fourth-down attempt, on fourth-and-1 at the Dallas 41-yard line. Brown ran it up the middle for two-yards and a first down. Sloman eventually clanked a 29-yard field goal off the left upright with five seconds remaining in the first.
“You realize how much you appreciate the crowd. I thought I guys did a great job bringing their own energy. I was really pleased with the energy we had from our sideline, but when that’s the only thing you’re hearing, it is eerie. What a cool thing to be able to get a win for Mr. Kroenke tonight, (but) I think I’ll remember the silence.”McVay said postgame
Following a Rams’ punt, the Cowboys started with the ball on their own nine-yard line, down three points with 2:28 remaining in the fourth quarter. Prescott connected with Amari Cooper on back-to-back plays for 11-yards and a first down.
Leonard Floyd sacked Prescott on the ensuing play for a seven-yard loss, knocking the Cowboys back to the 18-yard line. A Prescott 12-yard scramble led to a fourth-and-1, which Dallas converted on an Elliot four-yard run to the Cowboys 34, with 55 seconds left.
Michael Gallup caught a 47-yard pass from Prescott with 31 seconds remaining, putting the Cowboys in excellent field position, on the Rams 19 yard line. Still, the play was called back via offensive passing interference on Gallup.
Dallas attempted a heave with 13 seconds remaining on fourth-and-20, only for LA’s defense to break it up, causing a turnover on downs, handing the ball, and game to the Rams.
The game featured a matchup of 2016 NFL Draft Picks at QB, Goff, who went first overall to the Rams, and Prescott picked 135th overall.
Goff finished the night 20 for 31, throwing zero touchdowns and one interception, while Prescott completed 25 of his 39 passes, with one touchdown and zero interceptions. Goff narrowly outdueled Prescott in passing yards, 275 to 266.
Sunday night marked the return of Aldon Smith to the NFL. Smith, selected by the San Francisco 49ers seventh overall in 2015, had not played in a game since the 2015 season.
The Rams (1-0) head out east for another matchup with an NFC East team, the Philadelphia Eagles who blew a 17-point lead to the Washington Football Team in Week One. Dallas (0-1) heads home to face the Falcons (0-1) with kick-off set for 1 PM EST. LA-Philly also kicks-off at 1 PM EST.