Chris Carlson, Associated Press
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Brad Johnson gets sacked by San Diego Chargers linebacker Carlos Polk during Saturday's exhibition game at Qualcomm Stadium.

When Tony Romo and the rest of the Dallas Cowboys starters were on the field in the preseason opener, all that Super Bowl talk certainly seemed relevant.

That makes it easier to look past the disappointing play after the starters sat.

The Cowboys lost 31-17 Saturday night at San Diego, which scored 24 consecutive points after Romo and Co. were flawless in their only series. There were two Dallas turnovers that led to Chargers touchdowns and three pass interference penalties that aided scoring drives.

"Overall, I feel like we obviously didn't play well as a team," coach Wade Phillips said. "I was disappointed that some of them (nonstarters) didn't do better."

Encouraging, though, was how the Cowboys' No. 1 offense and defense looked for the brief time they played two weeks into training camp.

San Diego went three-and-out on the opening series of the game. Tank Johnson, who joined the Cowboys for the second half of last season after serving an NFL suspension, sacked Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers on the drive.

Romo then completed all three of his passes for 33 yards and Marion Barber — the clear-cut starter after Julius Jones left in free agency — ran four times for 24 yards. Fullback Deon Anderson capped the eight-play, 54-yard drive with a 2-yard scoring plunge.

"We were pretty efficient," Romo said. "We've been having a good training camp. We're excited to come out and play with the confidence we've had so far. ... We have so many veterans, when we step on the field, we feel confident we should score."

There are super expectations for the Cowboys after they matched a team record by winning 13 games last season. They return all of the NFL-record 13 Pro Bowl players from that team.

RYAN IMPRESSIVE: New Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith said he wasn't looking for a tie or a moral victory in his team's preseason opener against Jacksonville. Smith was looking for a quarterback, and rookie Matt Ryan provided an impressive opening case that he can be the answer. Ryan led an 11-play, 74-yard touchdown drive against Jacksonville's first-team defense in the Jaguars' 20-17 win over the Falcons on Saturday night.

EDWARDS GETS STITCHES: Browns wideout Braylon Edwards was running a sprint in his socks when fellow receiver Donte' Stallworth stepped on the back of his foot and opened a cut that required stitches and a night in the hospital. Edwards spent Saturday night at the Cleveland Clinic and was released Sunday afternoon. The stay was precautionary.

GIANTS CUT 6TH-ROUND PICK: The New York Giants waived defensive end Robert Henderson, their sixth-round pick, and safety Nehemiah Warrick on Sunday and replaced them by signing Antonio Reynolds and Stuart Schweigert. Henderson (ankle) and Warrick (knee) were injured in Thursday night's 13-10 preseason loss at the Detroit Lions.

ARRINGTON SIDELINED: Saints rookie Adrian Arrington missed his second straight practice with a sprained toe Sunday and coach Sean Payton said the injury may be serious enough to sideline the former Michigan wide receiver for more than a week.