Sometimes receivers ran bad routes, sometimes they dropped passes. Running backs couldn't find holes. Once, Tony Romo forced a pass when he should've taken a sack, reverting to the bad habit he worked so hard to kick last season.
Yet Romo found some solace in the details of what went wrong for the Dallas Cowboys' offense in its latest exhibition outing.
"One person would make a mistake and it would kind of hurt the play," Romo said. "If 10 people do something right and one person does something wrong, that play is doomed. ... It's when you have four people who just can't do it, that's when you're in trouble.
"I'd like to think it was a thing here, a thing there and that's something we can correct."
Although Dallas beat San Diego 16-14 on Saturday night, the winning rally came long after the starting offense went out.
Romo led four drives and produced a grand total of 47 yards. He completed 3 of 10 attempts before throwing a 9-yard touchdown pass to Miles Austin.
Getting a touchdown, the Cowboys' first of the preseason, and scoring on a drive that got inside the opponent's 20-yard line, eased burdens for Dallas. But that scoring drive actually went backward before moving into the end zone; Romo had taken over at the 8 following a long fumble return by safety Barry Church.
The offensive line featuring two backups held up fine. Everything else looked out of whack.
Romo threw one way when Austin went another. Roy Williams slipped. Austin and Jason Witten dropped balls they normally catch. Marion Barber gained 13 yards on three carries; that's a lot compared to Felix Jones' four yards on three carries.
So while coach Wade Phillips and owner Jerry Jones lamented how much more San Diego had the ball (23:24 to 6:36 in the first half), Dallas simply didn't do much when it did have it.
"I understand why; we're working on things out there," Jerry Jones said. "I'd like to see it a little smoother, but we'll get there. ... I have absolutely no concerns about Romo's skill level or judgment."
Jones came away relieved there were no serious injuries and excited by Jon Kitna's performance in the second half. He hit 9 of 15 for 84 yards, with a 19-yard touchdown to Martellus Bennett. He also didn't have any turnovers or sacks.
"I'm going to sleep better about quarterback tonight than I've slept this year because I thought Kitna did an outstanding job," Jones said. "When he scrambled out, had some pressure on him, he threw the ball out of bounds. That's what you want to see. You can't get that in practice with that kind of pressure. You want to make sure when you're 37 you've got your legs and he's got his legs."
Bennett hadn't played this preseason because of an ankle injury. He looked like the kind of player the Cowboys need him to be, a solid blocker who can be a threat down the field, too. He caught four passes for 40 yards, both tops on the team.
Linebacker Victor Butler won the game by forcing a safety. Butler sacked Chargers rookie quarterback Jonathan Crompton, forcing a fumble that a San Diego lineman recovered in the end zone.
Barry Church made the other big defensive play, scooping up a fumble caused by Bradie James. He returned it 70 yards, only to get tackled with the goal line in sight; worse yet, the tackle was made by quarterback Philip Rivers.
"I didn't think we were playing our best to start out with, but we kept fighting and made plays at the end of the game," Phillips said. "We had some guys that made plays, some younger guys. I thought our offensive line held up pretty well, especially early in the game. They blitzed every time on third down. We haven't seen all those blitzes but I thought our guys picked them up pretty well."
Linebacker Keith Brooking and safety Gerald Sensabaugh left the game with injuries. Both are expected to be fine.
The Cowboys open their final week of training camp Monday afternoon. Their final workout in California is on Friday, then they travel to Houston for the second-to-last preseason game, traditionally the dress rehearsal for the regular season.
AP Sports Writer Bernie Wilson in San Diego contributed to this report.