Sept. 14 (UPI) -- A season-opening loss wasn't the only setback the Dallas Cowboys suffered on Sunday Night Football. The team also lost three starters to major injuries during the 20-17 defeat to the Los Angeles Rams.
Tight end Blake Jarwin, right tackle Cam Erving and linebacker Leighton Vander Esch each went down with injuries in the first half Sunday at the new SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif. Vander Esch broke his collarbone. Erving and Jarwin received knee injuries.
"It was a tough loss," Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy told reporters. "It's not the way we wanted to start, but the guys battled. It was a lot of little things that we have to improve on."
The game also was one of the many NFL clashes played Sunday without fans in attendance as a coronavirus pandemic safety precaution.
"It's definitely a little bit different with no fans," Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey said. "You have to create your own energy but that's something we pride ourselves on doing anyway.
"That's something I pride myself personally on doing is bringing a lot of energy, heart and passion for the game and try to be contagious and the best for my teammates. I feel like we did that for the most part. There is ups and downs, ebbs and flows of the game that we had to overcome and I feel like we did a good job."
The Cowboys appeared to have put themselves in position for a game-tying field goal with 21 seconds remaining, but wide receiver Michael Gallup was called for offensive pass interference after he made a long catch on the play.
"I thought our offense slowed up in the second half, but the defense picked up the slack," Rams coach Sean McVay said. "That's what team football is all about. We had a couple costly penalties, that we have to be able to avoid moving forward, but overall, I liked the way we came out.
"I like the way the defense settled in the game."
Los Angeles got off to a great start when running back Malcolm Brown scored a one-yard rushing touchdown on the game's opening drive. The Cowboys responded with a punt before the Rams missed a field goal on their next drive.
Rams kicker Sam Sloman hit a 35-yard field goal on the next drive for a 10-7 lead. Sloman added another field goal two minutes before halftime. The Cowboys responded with a nine-play, 83-yard scoring drive. Elliott capped off the drive with a one-yard touchdown run to give Dallas a 14-13 lead at halftime.
The Cowboys punted on their first drive of the second half. Los Angeles then used an 11-play, 90-yard scoring drive to take a 20-14 lead.
Cowboys kicker Greg Zuerlein then connected on a 33-yard field goal with 1:54 remaining in the quarter to cut the Rams lead to three points, but Dallas couldn't rally in the scoreless fourth quarter.
Brown totaled 110 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns on 21 touches for the Rams. Rams quarterback Jared Goff completed 20 of 31 passes for 275 yards and an interception. Robert Woods had six catches for a game-high 105 yards in the win. Aaron Donald, Leonard Floyd and Michael Brockers each had sacks for the Rams.
Prescott completed 25 of 39 passes for 266 yards and a touchdown in the loss. Elliott had 96 rushing yards and a score on 22 carries. He also had three catches for 31 yards and a score in the loss.
"I judge myself off of wins," Prescott said. "It was a loss and not a performance I'm proud of."
The Cowboys next host the Atlanta Falcons at 1 p.m. EDT Sunday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The Rams face the Philadelphia Eagles at 1 p.m. EDT Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.