By STEPHEN HAWKINS AP Sports Writer
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) – The Dallas Cowboys defense might want to delete that last group photo. It was a celebration that proved a bit premature.
On this Monday night, the Cowboys didn’t defend their star in a 28-14 loss – except for Byron Jones shoving Kevin Byard when the Tennessee Titans safety did his best imitation of Terrell Owens’ infamous taunting on the midfield logo 18 years ago.
“There’s no need for it,” Jones said. “We’re all having fun, but I think when you go and try to go on the star … everyone knows what going on the star means.”
Byrad’s interception in the end zone of Dak Prescott’s pass came right after Jaylon Smith recovered the second fumble by Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota and the Cowboys (3-5) looking to build on their early 7-0 lead.
“That was a big play in the ballgame not to be able to cash in there,” coach Jason Garrett said.
“That was big in the game.”
Just two plays later, it looked like Smith had another recovery after what would have been Tennessee’s third lost fumble in a five-minute span. The defense had already posed for another group photo, like it had after two fumbles by Mariota, before the play was overturned on a replay review.
After keeping the ball, Mariota and the Titans (4-4) went on to finish a 15-play drive that tied the game. They didn’t have any more turnovers and never trailed again.
“One thing that defensively that we try to uphold is creating turnovers,” Jones said. “You can’t just do it in the first quarter and expect the game to go your way. You have to do it throughout the entire game.”
Amari Cooper had a 4-yard TD catch in his first game for the Cowboys, who sent a first-round pick to Oakland for the fourth-year receiver.
All three Dallas drives in the first quarter got into the red zone. There was a missed field goal before Cooper’s TD, and Prescott’s interception after that in their first home loss this season.
“I think the main thing is we had two no-scores in the red zone,” running back Ezekiel Elliott said. “It’s hard to win a game in the NFL when you have two no-scores.”
Cooper finished by catching five of the eight passes thrown his way for 58 yards – the interception was intended for him. Elliott had 17 carries for 61 yards.
Along with Cooper’s debut, this was the first game for the Cowboys since offensive line coach Paul Alexander was fired less than halfway into his first season with the team. Former Dallas offensive lineman Marc Colombo, who had served as assistant offensive line coach since 2016, was promoted to take over as offensive line coach.
It was the first time Garrett has made an in-season change to his coaching staff, but there was no immediate turnaround.
Prescott was sacked five times, losing a fumble when he tried to escape being tackled on one of them, and the Cowboys had only 72 yards rushing.
With the five sacks, Prescott has already been sacked 28 times halfway through this season. That is three more than his rookie season in 2016, and just short of the 32 sacks last season.
“I know that we had breakdowns,” owner Jerry Jones said. “I don’t know that I expected the change to create a situation here you just didn’t have breakdowns. I didn’t think there would be enough to impact the game the way it did, and the way it did with Dak.”
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