Nearly an hour after his first NFL win as a starter, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Joshua Dobbs walked through the locker room with the game ball still securely tucked in his left arm.
He even brought it to the postgame news conference, finding a place for it on the lectern.
“It feels good when you win — you gotta enjoy them,” Dobbs said. “They’re difficult to come by in the NFL.”
Dobbs knows the sentiment more than most. The 28-year-old — in his seventh NFL season — broke through for his first win by throwing for 189 yards and a touchdown in a 28-16 win over the mistake-prone Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. The veteran backup was 0-4 as a starter before Sunday, losing twice last season with the Titans and twice more with the Cardinals this year.
Dobbs completed 17 of 21 passes while James Conner and Rondale Moore both ran for a touchdown. Jonathan Gannon got his first win as Arizona’s coach as the franchise snapped a six-game home skid that lasted nearly a year.
“Hopefully one of many,” Gannon said. “Back to the drawing board tomorrow.”
The Cardinals (1-2) never trailed and went ahead 21-10 on the final play of the first half when Matt Prater made a 62-yard field goal, a low liner that just cleared the uprights. Arizona scored on all five of its possessions before the break.
The Cardinals, who also led at halftime in their first two games and coughed up a 21-point advantage against the New York Giants at home last week, held on this time.
The Cowboys (2-1) — who were called for 13 penalties that set them back 107 yards — cut the margin to 21-16 with 9:33 left in the game thanks to a pair of field goals by Brandon Aubrey. Dallas had three solid drives bog down inside the Arizona 10, including one that ended on a fourth-down stop when Dak Prescott threw an incomplete pass.
Prescott completed 25 of 40 passes for 249 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
Dallas looked like one of the best teams in the NFL through two weeks, drubbing the Giants 40-0 in Week 1 and beating the Jets 30-10 in Week 2. But the Cowboys had a tough week at practice — losing star cornerback Trevon Diggs for the season with an ACL injury — and those bad vibes carried over into a gaffe-filled first half that included 10 penalties for 72 yards.
“This was a humbling loss,” Prescott said. “We thought we had a good opportunity to come in here even with the adversity and get a win and we didn’t.”
Midway through the fourth, Dobbs hit Marquise Brown for a 2-yard touchdown, pushing the lead to 28-16 with 7:22 remaining.
Arizona sealed the win when Kyzir White picked off Prescott’s pass in the end zone with three minutes left. White — who played for Gannon’s defense in Philadelphia before they both came to Arizona during the offseason — also was among the group of players who dumped water on their coach in celebration as time expired.
Gannon wasn’t thrilled, but White wasn’t apologizing.
“He’ll be all right,” White said.
Arizona was rolling from the opening drive. Dobbs ran for 44 yards on the second play of the game, rumbling down the left sideline before finally getting tracked down. The Cardinals jumped to a 9-0 lead with 6:12 left in the first quarter after Conner ran for a 5-yard touchdown.
Conner finished with 98 yards rushing.
The Cardinals kept up the pressure in the second quarter with Moore — who is usually a receiver — taking a handoff and bursting through the middle of the line for a 45-yard touchdown run and a 15-3 lead.
The Cowboys responded with a 13-play, 75-yard drive that cut Arizona’s lead to 15-10. Rico Dowdle scored on a 15-yard pass from Prescott.
The Cowboys looked like they got the big play they needed midway through the third quarter when KaVontae Turpin ran back a punt 51 yards to the Arizona 23.
But a holding penalty was called on Devin Harper, negating the big gain and bringing the ball all the way back to the Dallas 16. It was the 11th penalty of the game for the Cowboys and arguably the most costly.
Prater’s 62-yard field goal was the 72nd of his career from 50 yards or more, extending his NFL record. Sebastian Janikowski is second with 58.
GRIFFEY ON GRIDIRON
Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. was on the sidelines taking photos. He chatted with injured Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray during pregame warmups.
Cowboys: Two starting offensive linemen — C Tyler Biadasz (hamstring) and G Zack Martin (ankle) — were inactive.
Cardinals: DL Zaven Collins (eye) left in the third quarter. ... LB Krys Barnes (hand) left in the fourth.
Cowboys: Host New England next Sunday.
Cardinals: At San Francisco next Sunday.