Mike McCarthy's decision-making under question after Cowboys' loss

Welcome, to the Dallas Cowboys, Mike McCarthy.

Now, about that fourth-down call in the fourth quarter with your team down three points.

McCarthy lost in his coaching debut with the Cowboys 20-17 to the Los Angeles Rams, and his decision to eschew a potential tying field goal from the opponents' 11 with 11:46 to play was the biggest head-scratcher. The Cowboys failed to get the first down when CeeDee Lamb caught a Dak Prescott short of the sticks.

The largest complaint about McCarthy's predecessor, Jason Garrett, was his game management. Garrett was blamed for icing his kicker, too many long field goal tries and stubbornly sticking with a faulty game plan.

McCarthy spent a year away from the sideline, studying the game and trends after his long run with the Green Bay Packers. Maybe he saw how his defense was scuffling, especially in getting third-down stops. Maybe he was just wanting to be aggressive and show faith in his new team.

According to ESPN Stats & Information research, the win percentage had the Cowboys made the field goal attempt would have been 47.4%. Had they converted, the win percentage was 47.2%. So basically a wash. But also according to ESPN Stats & Info., McCarthy never went for it on fourth down when down by three in the fourth quarter and inside the opponents' 30. He kicked a field goal attempt six times, making five.

Whatever it was Sunday, it didn't work even if it didn't eliminate the Cowboys' chances because of an Aldon Smith sack.

The Cowboys' chances officially ended when a long completion to Michael Gallup was negated by an offensive pass interference and Prescott's fourth-and-20 pass fell harmlessly to the ground two throws later.

So McCarthy's tenure opened up the same way as the other two Super Bowl-winning coaches in team history. Tom Landry lost his first game in 1960. Jimmy Johnson lost his first game in 1989. And McCarthy lost his first game as Packers' coach in 2006.

But those team did not have the high expectations this team has.

Troubling trend: Hard to call it a trend since it's Game 1, but it's certainly troubling. The Cowboys lost Leighton Vander Esch (collarbone), Blake Jarwin (knee) and Cameron Erving (knee) to injuries in the first half and none returned. Vander Esch is the most concerning because of the lack of depth, especially with Sean Lee missing at least the next two games because of a pelvis injury. Jarwin's absence would hurt because he can open up the middle of the field. Erving was hurt blocking on a field goal attempt and was the swing tackle.

Buy Ezekiel Elliott: Remember the worries folks had about McCarthy not getting him the ball much based on how things ended in Green Bay? Elliott had 22 carries for 96 yards and a touchdown, and he caught three passes for 31 yards and a touchdown. Elliott became the first player in team history with a rushing and receiving touchdown in a season opener. He also set the team mark with his seventh game with a rushing and receiving TD, breaking a tie with Hall of Famer Tony Dorsett.

Describe the game in two words: Really weird. Beyond no fans in the stands and the artificial crowd noise, it was a herky-jerky game with not a lot of rhythm. That should be expected with no preseason and a new coaching staff, but Week 2 against Atlanta has to be better. McCarthy will want to avoid an 0-2 start at all costs.