GLENDALE, Ariz., -- Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones put the performance of No. 3 quarterback Alex Tanney into perspective Saturday afternoon by jokingly describing Tanney's effort as Heisman Trophy-caliber.
"I would like to think that we are better and will play better than to make Tanney's performance something to get giddy about," Jones said after the Cowboys' 12-7 loss to the Arizona Cardinals that included six turnovers. "But since we did play like that, let's call it a Heisman Trophy day for him and be smiling a little bit."
Tanney led the Cowboys offense to its only score of the day, a 5-yard pass to fellow rookie, tight end Gavin Escobar, and ended the afternoon with the team's sixth turnover, an interception with 1:40 to play in the fourth quarter that sealed the Cardinals' victory.
Tanney, who played the entire second half, completed 14-of-19 passes for 136 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He completed his first 11 passes.
"The turnover at the end, obviously I'm not comfortable (with that)," Tanney said. "Defense did a great job holding them to a field goal and we had an opportunity to win the game, and you can't turn the ball over in that situation."
The Cowboys trailed 9-0 when Tanney took over with the first-team line still on the field. Tanney's first drive ended in a punt, but his second drive, stretching from the end of the third quarter to the early stages of the fourth, saw him connect on eight consecutive passes, scramble for two first-down runs on third down and throw his first touchdown pass of his career.
"It was fun," Tanney said. "That's the first thing that comes to mind. First one in the NFL, Escobar's first one too, just celebrating."
It was a productive drive for the Cowboys that went 16 plays, stretching to 89 yards in 9:53. Tanney, however, would get a last second chance to mount a comeback in the final three minutes, but he was intercepted by Tony Jefferson to end any further opportunities.
"He's done great," quarterback Tony Romo said of Tanney. "I think (Saturday) is going to be a great teaching moment for him. Sometimes the best lessons you can learn are when you make a mistake. It depends whether you take the approach to do that or not, but he will."
The Cowboys don't appear in a rush to keep three quarterbacks, leading to Jones downplaying Tanney's performance. But No. 2 quarterback Kyle Orton threw two interceptions in the loss.
"I'm not going to worry too much about that right now," Tanney said. "I just understand how important these preseason games are and just getting film out there."