It took four weeks, but the Dallas Cowboys finally had a bad game; a really bad game. The Cowboys went to New Orleans and looked nothing like the team we’d seen to start the season, reverting to old offensive tendencies, losing 12-10.
Dallas had been one of the best teams in the league, especially on offense, scoring over 30 points in their first three contests. However, they only managed 257 total yards, one touchdown and had a myriad of mistakes in a putrid offensive performance.
Jason Witten and Ezekiel Elliott had back-breaking fumbles, the offensive line was dominated, Randall Cobb had a big drop and Amari Cooper was called for two questionable offensive pass interference penalties. Elliott was held to under two yards a carry and the ground game only mustered 45 yards.
This wasn’t the new wrinkle offense Cowboys fans have grown to know and love early in the year. Where was the pre-snap motion, the throws down the middle of the field or the quarterback read-option we saw through the first three games?
There were three big throws down the seam, where Prescott had lived so far this year, and all were complete. Witten caught one, but fumbled on the play, Blake Jarwin caught one to set-up the Elliott score, and Cobb caught a seam pass on the next to last play of the game.
The question that must be answered, is why? Prescott has shown all season he can make those throws and he had no trouble doing so in this game. Why was the offensive game plan so conservative from Jason Garrett and Kellen Moore?
There were too many first-down runs and short passes into the flat while ignoring the deep middle of the field. When the offense got behind on the down and distance, they lacked aggression and seemed content to take a few yards on short throws. And yet when the team needed two yards during crunch time, they threw.
Where was the play-action passing game that has been crushing defenses? Or the QB read option that puts the defense on their heels, because there were zero designed Prescott runs.
The Cowboys ignored what had worked for them on offense in the first three games and reverted back to the days when Scott Linehan was calling plays. The reason why is a mystery.
Hopefully, this isn’t a sign of things to come and it was just an off night. The Cowboys and Moore need to learn from this game and remain aggressive.
The defense did enough to keep the Cowboys in the game, holding the Saints to 266 yards, collecting five sacks and not allowing a touchdown. Usually, you’ll win games when the defense plays that well.
It was a rough night for the Cowboys and their vaunted offense. In the loss, the team missed a major opportunity to maintain a two-game lead in the NFC East and remain a game above some of the other teams they could be fighting for a playoff spot with (Rams, Saints, Vikings, Packers, Bears).
How they respond next week will tell us about these Cowboys.
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