After a long offseason, football finally returned with the Hall of Fame game

The Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals kicked off the 2017 preseason in Canton, Ohio. (AP)

Unlike last year, the NFL preseason actually did begin as scheduled in Canton, Ohio on Thursday night.

The long offseason ended when the Dallas Cowboys kicked off to the Arizona Cardinals a little after 8 p.m. Eastern in the Hall of Fame game. The Cowboys won 20-18.

Very few projected starters played, as usual for the Hall of Fame game, but it was still football. Al and Cris and Michele were describing the action on NBC and there was blocking and tackling and passing and penalties and replay reviews, just like we remember.

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It didn’t take long for the first touchdown of the (unofficial) season. Kerwynn Williams, vying to be David Johnson’s backup in Arizona, bounced a run outside and lunged into the end zone for the 5-yard score just 4:14 into the game.


Andre Ellington scored on another short touchdown run about six minutes later and the Cardinals scored a two-point conversion for a 15-0 lead. Blaine Gabbert, signed by the Cardinals in the offseason, played well over the first two series. Hey, it’s the preseason.

The Cowboys had a highlight of their own before the end of the first quarter. Backup quarterback Kellen Moore, starting Thursday night because Dak Prescott never saw the field, hit former Baylor basketball player and intriguing tight end prospect Rico Gathers for a 26-yard touchdown.

Last year we didn’t get the annual game from Canton. The game was canceled when the wrong paint was used and the logos on the field became extremely hard. The playing surface was deemed unsafe.

[Click here to read our pre-preseason NFL Power Rankings for the 2017 season.]

The annual game in Canton isn’t great but it’s usually watched by an enormous audience because it’s football and we’ve been waiting about five months for any game to watch. The last time we saw the NFL, James White was scoring in overtime of the Super Bowl to give the New England Patriots their fifth title. Seeing Gabbert and Cowboys backup Kellen Moore sling the ball around wasn’t as exciting as that, but it’ll do.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!