It started out as if the addition of Amari Cooper was going to instantly improve the Dallas Cowboys’ offense.
Alas, that was probably an unrealistic expectation, even with Monday’s fast start against the Tennessee Titans.
Cooper, playing in his first game with the Cowboys after a bye-week trade from the Oakland Raiders, caught his first touchdown pass for Dallas early in the first quarter.
But the offense didn’t do a whole lot after that and the Titans ran away with a 28-14 win at AT&T Stadium. The loss drops Dallas to 3-5.
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Cooper made his first catch for the Cowboys with an 11-yard reception on the second play from scrimmage. He finished with five catches on seven targets for 58 yards.
“I thought we did a very good job of showing his ability to basically create opportunities,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said of Cooper. “And I thought he did. And I thought we used him really effectively.
“I was not disappointed tonight other than not winning the ballgame, in how Amari played tonight. He didn’t disappoint me as to expectations, for me.”
But after taking a 7-0 lead on Cooper’s early touchdown, the Cowboys failed to take advantage of two of three first-half fumbles by the Titans that gave Dallas prime field position. Brett Maher missed a 38-yard field goal on Dallas’ first possession and quarterback Dak Prescott was intercepted in the end zone when he forced a pass into triple coverage.
“Yeah, when you are down there in the red zone area you should at least get a field goal,” Cooper said. “You’ve got to come away with something. We left some points out there.”
The Titans later scored twice in the first half to take a 14-7 lead as Marcus Mariota led touchdown drives of 80 and 69 yards. Dallas tied it at 14-14 with Allen Hurns’ 23-yard scoring reception from Prescott.
In the second half, however, the Cowboys were held scoreless on only 108 total yards.
Cooper was targeted only three times in the second half and had two catches for 28 yards. Cooper’s presence didn’t open up much for the other receivers, including Cole Beasley (3 for 16 yards), Michael Gallup (3 for 51 yards) and running back Ezekiel Elliott, who had four catches for 51 yards.
Dallas especially struggled on third down, going 5 of 11. Tennessee converted 11 of 14 third downs.
Prescott, who was sacked five times, completed 21 of 31 passes for 243 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.