Tony Romo was only planning to play two series in Seattle on Thursday night. He only lasted three plays.
Romo left the Cowboys' 27-17 loss after taking a hit from behind by defensive end Cliff Avril. On the play, Romo took a lot of time in the pocket before sliding to the ground too late, not sensing Avril. Romo immediately reached for his back and stayed on the turf until eventually walking off the field under his own power.
Romo spoke at length with medical personnel on the sideline while backup quarterback Dak Prescott replaced him.
"I was just in shock," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said on CBS 11. "I had my mind on, 'Come on, Tony, get up.' Said a few prayers right there."
NFL Media's Steve Wyche reported that Romo took some simulated snaps and threw a few passes on the sideline after the injury. He was stretched out by a team trainer but didn't come back in. After the game, Romo looked at the bright side.
"That was probably as tough a hit as I've taken on my back in the last five years," Romo told reporters, finding encouragement that it held up. Romo added that he didn't undergo an X-ray as there was no sensations that prompted a need for one.
Jones said the injury should not impede Romo from starting Week 1 and that he would not play in the preseason finale.
The Cowboys' website's Nick Eatman wrote that Romo didn't return because of a coach's decision. Romo reportedly wanted to re-enter the game, but coach Jason Garrett didn't allow it.
"His back was bothering him a little bit after that play," Garrett told the Cowboys broadcast crew at halftime. "We don't think it's a serious thing, and we just felt better keeping him out. Dak came in and did a great job."
Prescott will play -- most likely start -- in the preseason finale vs. Houston. Jones said every rep Prescott gets is vital to his growth and preparedness, according to Wyche.
Seattle's Avril told Wyche that he hoped Romo was not injured badly because he wants to see the Cowboys star on the field this season.
Jones said Romo is "not injured" but the setback will be a hot topic in the coming days, especially with Prescott playing so well. The injury overshadowed the preseason debut of Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, who looked spectacular while rushing for 48 yards on seven carries. Prescott and Elliott may be the future of this offense, but the Cowboys don't want Prescott's time as a starter to begin just yet.