Dallas Cowboys Insider
Consider it much less like a humiliating loss and extra like a social experiment. An train within the debate between rust versus relaxation and the facility of constructive momentum. The Dallas Cowboys, way back assured of their place within the postseason, completed off their 2022 marketing campaign about as poorly as humanly doable on Sunday. Regardless of coming into the day with an out of doors shot at profitable the NFC East, they slumped to one among their worst performances of the season in a 26-6 loss to Washington.
Now comes the enjoyable half. Does it imply something shifting ahead, because the Cowboys now should put together for a wildcard journey to play NFC South champion Tampa Bay? It is onerous to really feel a lot confidence. Choose whichever side of the group you favor, and Dallas struggled on Sunday.
Their quarterback was abysmal. Dak Prescott accomplished a woeful 38% of his passes for simply 128 yards, lowlighted by an terrible pick-six. In simply his worst efficiency since coming back from a thumb damage in October, Prescott regarded uncomfortable all day and failed to determine a lot in the way in which of rhythm.
His working sport did not do him any favors, because the Cowboys averaged simply 2.4 yards per try on the bottom. The Cowboys ran the ball seven occasions on first-and-10 whereas their starters had been within the sport, tallying simply 10 yards within the course of.
The Dallas particular groups additionally picked a nasty day to wrestle. Bryan Anger set the tone for a irritating afternoon when he bobbled the primary punt of the day, giving Washington a brief subject for an early landing. Earlier than the day was over, Kavontae Turpin would muff a punt return and Brett Maher would miss an additional level.
The Cowboys protection turned in one of the best efficiency of a forgettable day, however even that got here with acquainted breakdowns in cross protection.
I am belaboring the purpose. By any metric possible, this was the Cowboys’ worst efficiency since a equally embarrassing 19-3 loss in Week 1 — to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, mockingly.
It is an attention-grabbing distinction from 2022. If you happen to’ll recall, presently one yr in the past, the Cowboys entered the postseason as sizzling as doable. They performed the starters in a principally meaningless sport in Philadelphia, piling up 475 yards in a 51-26 demolition of the Eagles. It did not translate within the slightest bit one week later, as they had been manhandled by San Francisco in a one-and-done playoff exit.
Might it presumably work the opposite means? Can the Cowboys flip the web page from such a blatant no-show in time to repair their playoff fortunes?
That is been the story all through the common season. They bounced again from that terrible loss to Tampa Bay with a dramatic win towards Cincinnati. Their late-October loss in Philadelphia was adopted by a win towards Detroit. What got here after the time beyond regulation loss at Lambeau Subject? A 40-3 shellacking of the playoff-bound Vikings. And naturally, the baffling loss in Jacksonville three weeks in the past was adopted by a Christmas Eve win towards the Eagles.
The apparent counter is that the common season is over. The following step is the playoffs, the place no method has appeared to work. As unhealthy because the Cowboys regarded final yr in that loss to San Francisco, they’ve additionally misplaced their final 4 playoff video games when ending the common season with a loss — most notably, the heartbreakers in 2007 and 2016, once they had earned the No. 1 general seed within the NFC.
Magnificence shall be within the eye of the beholder this week, because the Cowboys put together for one of many juiciest matchups of the wildcard spherical.
This group has been adequate to go 12-5, ending above .500 towards groups that managed a profitable report. They’ve additionally been unhealthy sufficient to get their doorways blown off in two of these 5 losses and give up large second-half leads in two others. They’ve misplaced the turnover battle in 4 of their final six video games, regardless of managing a 5-2 report in stated video games.
Nobody represents that inconsistency higher than Prescott. Since his return, he is guided led some of the environment friendly and explosive offenses within the league, going 8-3 and averaging 32 factors per sport throughout that span. On the similar time, Sunday was his seventh straight sport with an interception and his fifteenth general, as he watched a defender rejoice ultimately zone with one among his passes for the third time this yr.
All of these items will be true, as a result of they have been true all yr. The distinction now’s that the Cowboys are out of regular-season video games to kind them out. Starting now, they’ll both buck the pattern within the postseason, or as soon as once more end a season the way in which they’ve turn out to be accustomed to — far ahead of anybody wished.
High tales from FOX Sports activities:
David Helman covers the Dallas Cowboys for FOX Sports activities. He beforehand spent 9 seasons masking the Cowboys for the group’s official web site. In 2018, he gained a regional Emmy for his function in producing “Dak Prescott: A Household Reunion” in regards to the quarterback’s time at Mississippi State. Comply with him on Twitter at @davidhelman_.
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Publish date: 2023-01-09 06:48:06
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