Graphic by Ethan Gullet

Last week, I predicted the final score of the Cowboys-Packers game would be a 21-24 victory for the Cowboys. Dallas scored 24 points, but they did so in complete desperation after getting run over in the first half. The game went terrible for the Cowboys on Sunday. A pass deflected off of Amari Cooper’s hands? Intercepted. A pass play that should have been flagged for illegal contact against Michael Gallup in the waning moments of the game? Intercepted. A field goal to bring the game within one score in the 4th quarter? Missed. Add in 124 yards of penalties to that mix as well. The offense did not wake up until the 3rd quarter, and by that time, they were facing a 28 point deficit. The defense could not stop Green Bay and it was not because of their passing attack. Aaron Rodgers took a backseat to running back Aaron Jones, who gashed the Cowboys for almost 200 yards of total offense and four touchdowns. He provided more than half of his team’s total offensive yards. The fearsome Dallas linebacker core that was supposed to swallow up running backs with their aggression missed tackles and overextended themselves the entirety of the game.

The final score: 34-24, in a game that was not nearly as close as the results show.

At the beginning of this season, I mentioned Prescott would be the key to this offense and development would be crucial to this team’s goals. Through the first three games, it was easy to see Prescott had improved, and it looked like he was ready to be in the top six or seven quarterback debate. After these last two weeks, we’re right back where we started. Prescott has so far been unable to win the big games. At the same time, it would be wrong to label him as a bad or even mediocre quarterback. A look at his game film reveals a knack for making big-time throws and a clutch gene. In the past three years, he’s led eight fourth quarter comebacks and 14 game winning drives. That is not something any regular quarterback can do. In this particular game, two of Prescott’s three interceptions weren’t his fault, but the one he was responsible for was inexcusably terrible. Essentially, Dallas’s star quarterback struggles with consistency and has a hard time against above average defenses. Whether or not he can break through and become the player that his team needs remains to be seen.

Prescott’s performance was also negatively affected by the offensive line. Tyron Smith was out with an ankle injury, and La’el Collins, who was already dealing with back pain, suffered a knee injury during the game. The line gave up two sacks on the day, but Prescott was hit and pressured constantly. Zeke Elliott did well in limited opportunities on the ground, but the Cowboys fell behind so quickly the running game had been all but abandoned by halftime. He managed to get 62 yards on 12 carries and could have been a big factor on the ground if the game hadn’t gotten away from Dallas in the first half.

The Cowboys made mistakes in all three phases of the game: turnovers and lack of execution on offense, poor tackling on defense and two missed field goals. They deserved to lose this game, even if they managed to keep fighting until the bitter end. The Cowboys have failed their first two tests of the season. Both games against the Eagles, a trip to New England and a game against the Rams should tell us all we need to know about the potential of this team. So far, the Cowboys have been unable to beat a good opponent, a troubling sign for a team that is incredibly talented. Looking ahead, this weekend should be a great opportunity to get to 4-2. The Cowboys will visit the winless New York Jets. Barring a complete disaster, this game should be an easy win against another bottom 10 team.

Dallas. 27-14 in Week 6

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