By: Anthony Miller
In a game that not many experts predicted, the Dallas Cowboys fell to the previously winless Arizona Cardinals 28-16 on Sunday.
From the moment Arizona Cardinals quarterback Joshua Dobbs had a 44-yard run on the first drive of the game, Cowboys fans knew this wouldn’t be a normal game. Arizona got off to a fast start with a field goal and touchdown on the first two possessions of the game. After a five-yard James Conner touchdown and a failed two-point conversion, Dallas was down 9-0.
Even with a Brandon Aubrey field goal to make it a one-possession game, Arizona still responded with a 45-yard touchdown run by Rondale Moore making the score 15-3 Cardinals over Cowboys. Dak Prescott finally got Dallas in the end zone with a 15-yard touchdown to Rico Dowdle off a screen pass. Dallas was down 15-10 in the second quarter.
Arizona closed the half with two field goals by Matt Prater that were from 43 yards and 62 yards to close the half with a 21-10 lead for the Cardinals.
Things didn’t get much better for the Cowboys offense in the second half with Aubrey knocking in a 27-yard field goal to make it 21-13 going into the fourth quarter.
That wouldn’t be the only red zone drive not ending in a touchdown for Dallas in the second half as they were on the four-yard line where Prescott threw an incompletion on fourth down turning the ball over. Aubrey did get a field goal on the next drive helping Dallas close in on Arizona with a 21-16 game.
Unfortunately, it went off the rails for Dallas as a 69-yard pass from Dobbs to Michael Wilson led to a two-yard touchdown pass from Dobbs to Marquise Brown to put Arizona up 28-16. Dallas was able to drive straight down on the field on their last offensive drive of the game, but it ended with Prescott’s first interception of the season which ended the game.
The 28-16 loss for the Cowboys gave them their first loss of the season putting their record at 2-1. Despite Dallas winning the time of possession, passing yards, and total yards against Arizona, it was 13 penalties and one turnover that was the ultimate difference in the game.
Tony Pollard was the top performer on offense rushing for 122 yards in the loss. Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence each got a sack for the Cowboys.
What Went Wrong for Dallas in the Loss?
The simple answer to the question: is penalties, turnovers, and red zone inefficiencies.
Starting with the red zone, this was the glaring issue for the Cowboys on offense as they made five trips to the red zone, and only scored one touchdown. Two of the possessions ended in field goals, one ended in turnover on downs, and the last one ended in an interception. This presents a big problem for a team that is on the edge of a Super Bowl title run.
13 penalties for 107 yards are outrageous for the Cowboys. This has been a problem for Dallas in the Mike McCarthy era, and it continues to be an issue. Something to keep in mind is the team was working through injuries on the offensive line which presented Dallas with a challenge. It was an undisciplined game for the Cowboys.
The turnover at the end for Dallas is what ultimately ended any chance of a comeback. Prescott threw it into tight coverage in the end zone making it hard for a touchdown to be possible. Not only that, but the Cowboys’ defense could not create a turnover for a team that has a starting quarterback who joined the team two weeks before the season.
Adding a bonus issue in the game, injuries ended up hurting the Cowboys. Zach Martin and Tyler Biadasz did not play the game on the offensive line. Trevon Diggs was knocked out for the season with an ACL injury just a couple of days before the game which didn’t make things easy on defense.
Where Does Dallas Go from Here?
To use a quote from New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers, “Relax.”
Yes, this loss to a team that appears to be the worst team in the NFL is not good. Dallas went in as heavy favorites on the road to take care of business. The NFL is an interesting business where anything can happen on any given Sunday.
The most important thing is to get healthy on the offensive line. Getting Martin and Biadasz back will help make sure Prescott is getting the protection needed in the passing game. Diggs isn’t coming back so nothing can be done there, but getting the secondary on the same page will help as well.
14 games remain in the regular season so it is too early to tell what kind of team Dallas will be. It’s safe to say they will be competitive and still be in the playoff hunt. The only thing is it will be a bit of a tougher road there for Dallas.
The 1-2 New England Patriots are coming into town on Sunday. It could be the bounce-back game they need as while it won’t be an easy game, it should see Dallas favored to win. Fans shouldn’t make a swift judgment until they see how Dallas plays through four weeks.
Featured Image via AP Photo/Rick Scuteri