Cardinals jump ahead of Cowboys behind Joshua Dobbs, diverse running game

Sep 24, 2023, 2:02 PM | Updated: 11:00 pm

Joshua Dobbs, Cardinals vs. Cowboys...

Joshua Dobbs #9 of the Arizona Cardinals runs the ball during the first quarter of a game against the Dallas Cowboys at State Farm Stadium on September 24, 2023 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Joshua Dobbs found the end zone twice in his Arizona Cardinals’ Week 2 loss against the New York Giants, once for a touchdown and another time on a two-point conversion.

But the Cardinals didn’t wait until the red zone to involve their quarterback in the run game in Week 3 against the Dallas Cowboys.

It opened up a theme early on Sunday: The Arizona run game was pulling out all the stops in the first half of a 28-16 win.

The Cardinals had 182 rushing yards, an 11.4 per-carry average and a 21-10 lead at halftime on the team that coming into the week allowed the fewest yards per game (193) in the NFL.

Arizona went to the locker room after Matt Prater hit a 62-yard field goal — two yards short of his career mark.

On the first play from scrimmage Sunday at State Farm Stadium, Dobbs appeared to have a zone read that saw left tackle D.J. Humphries pull to — by appearances — block for running back James Conner. Vacating the left side allowed star Dallas pass rusher Micah Parsons to pursue the running back from the backside.

Dobbs pulled the ball and looped around the empty left side of the field for a 44-yard run, leaving Parsons to whiff a tackle or anyone at all.

It was the longest run by an Arizona quarterback since Kyler Murray’s 57-yard rush on Christmas Day 2021 against the Indianapolis Colts.

The Cardinals’ opening drive against the Cowboys stalled and ended with a 39-yard Prater field goal to put Arizona ahead, 3-0, with 12:31 to go in the first quarter.

Dobbs added a seven-yard scramble to his resume on the second drive of the game, but the real storyline for Arizona was how its offensive line was navigating where Parsons was located.

Parsons, working from the inside on Arizona’s next drive, found himself again in the Cardinals’ backfield with the snap at the Cowboys’ 6-yard line. But Conner had blockers taking his path wide to the right side of the field, and the running back capped things with a touchdown that put Arizona ahead 9-0 as a two-point conversion was missed.

Through the Cardinals’ first two drives, its running back and quarterback had combined for seven carries and 84 yards.

The Cowboys hit a field goal with 1:48 remaining in the first quarter to pull within 9-3. But Arizona behind offensive coordinator Drew Petzing would keep its foot on the gas regarding the ground game.

The Cardinals put together a seven-play, 75-yard drive in the second quarter to go up 15-3 that included a three-carry dose of backup running back Keaontay Ingram, plus another Ingram catch, and the use of wide receive Rondale Moore working out of the backfield.

Moore caught a pass after lining up as a running back and then took a handoff 45 yards for a score.

Arizona only tallied 40 rushing yards in the second half but scored a touchdown in the middle of the fourth quarter to go ahead by the final score. A Kyzir White interception of Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott marked the fourth red zone stop in five opportutnities by the Cardinals defense.

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Cardinals jump ahead of Cowboys behind Joshua Dobbs, diverse running game