Your Monday morning Cowboys links.
Tom recaps the heart-wrenching loss.
The table was set for this game by the defeat of the Philadelphia Eagles by the Carolina Panthers in the early slot. The come-from-ahead loss, where the Eagles gave up a 17 point lead in the fourth quarter, meant that the winner of this game would be all alone in first place in the NFC East. It came down to who wanted the division lead the most.
It was a continuation of the road woes that have plagued the Cowboys all season. There were clear breakdowns in communication on the offensive line, and multiple big plays for Dallas were called back by holding penalties. After showing so much promise in the win last week, things reverted back to the bad, and once again this looks like an 8-8 team, at best.
There was a brief flurry by the offense as time wound down in the game, including converting a fourth and 13 on a pass to Blake Jarwin. But it took too many plays to score, leaving only 1:37 on the clock. The drive was gritty and determined, but also too little and too late. Dallas managed to get it down to a field goal attempt, but a false start added five yards to the attempt, and Brett Maher doinked it off the upright.
Machota gives his five thoughts on the game, including the Cowboys staring at another 8-8 caliber season.
2. Who’s ready for another 8-8 season? That’s where the Cowboys are headed considering how they continue to play on the road, particularly on offense. Hard to believe this is the same team that looked so dominant against Jacksonville. Maybe it’s the road. Maybe the Cowboys really just are a .500 team. They had a great opportunity Sunday, a chance for first place in the division. Washington left the door open for a while. Dallas never capitalized.
Machota also had this to say about Dak:
3. Dak Prescott made the costly error late, fumbling in the end zone. He didn’t play his best game. But his toughness needs to be recognized. He took a big hit early and looked like he might be done for the day. He came back and made some nice throws when he was given time. The Michael Gallup touchdown was the best example. Prescott also had the impressive touchdown dive late in the fourth quarter to pull the Cowboys within three. His throw to Cole Beasley in the final minute was one of his best, getting them in field-goal range.
Archer writes that the ending to the game was “fitting”, considering the struggles that the Cowboys have had away from home.
The Cowboys were as close as a ball bouncing their way off an upright from sending Sunday’s game into overtime, but Brett Maher’s miss seemed fitting considering Dallas’ struggles on the road.
The Cowboys left FedEx Field like they did their first three road games: with a disheartening 20-17 loss to the Washington Redskins when Maher’s 52-yard attempt hit the left upright as time expired.
The running game provided little help with Ezekiel Elliott picking up just 33 yards and not having one carry of more than 6 yards. Left tackle Tyron Smith was beaten often and was flagged for a holding penalty on the first drive. Right tackle La’el Collins was beaten by Kerrigan for a sack and had a penalty. Williams struggled with the size of Allen for a good chunk of the game. Right guard Zack Martin played the second half with his knee heavily taped.
Now the Cowboys have a bye week to rest and somehow figure out how to do anything away from AT&T Stadium. The good news is they don’t go on the road again until Nov. 11. The bad news is that it will be at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field, where they scored just six points in a meaningless Week 17 win last season during which the Eagles rested most of their starters.
The Cowboys run through Ezekiel Elliott. So, Washington made sure that could not happen on Sunday.
The key was stopping Elliott, something they hadn’t done in their first three games against the Cowboys’ All-Pro running back. Elliott had rushed for 330 yards in those three games, leading Dallas to three wins.
On Sunday, his longest run was six yards and he managed 31 yards overall on 14 carries. The Redskins’ defensive front, with Payne, Jonathan Allen and Matt Ioannidis, controlled Dallas’ offensive line. When the Cowboys’ run game works, their line is moving defenders off the ball. That wasn’t happening Sunday, and that helped clog run lanes and let the linebackers fill gaps for stops. At times the Redskins used three safeties with their base defense to help against the run.
But Payne and Allen were the big keys. The Redskins admitted they drafted Payne in the first round this year in part because of Elliott. Their power has helped solidify the front and provide optimism for the entire defense. Allen who drew a holding penalty that wiped out a first down on the play before Smith’s touchdown, setting up a third-and-14.
No other way to put it — Dallas was whipped up front.
The Dallas Cowboys went on the road and the offense looked nothing like the unit that hung 40 points on the Jacksonville Jaguars. Washington dominated the Cowboys offensive line, and it wasn’t even from an overload of blitzes. The Cowboys offensive line committed three holding penalties and an illegal chop block ending drives and putting the team behind the chains. Dak Prescott didn’t help matters when he fumbled the ball twice, once after picking up a first down on a fourth down attempt, and then the killer turnover when he lost track of where he was and turned into the endzone and was strip-sacked for a Washington touchdown.
Even special teams pitched in with some poor play. Chris Jones had a poor day punting the ball, and then there was the field goal sequence. First, Jason Garrett should have been aggressive at the end and tried to get better field position for the kick, or even taken a shot at the end zone. Instead, they ran the ball and ended up with what should have been a 47-yard attempt. Then the Cowboys were called for moving the ball by the long snapper that resulted in another five-yard penalty. Now it’s a 52-yard kick and Brett Maher finally failed us again after going on a long run of excellence. If that ball is kicked from 50 yards or under, it probably goes through.
In the end, though, the Cowboys lost this game in the trenches. While Adrian Peterson was able to find some running room and balance the Washington offense, the Cowboys were unable to do the same. Elliott had nowhere to run all day, and the Cowboys were unable to totally overcome that. Prescott looked fine as a passer for the most part, but his two turnovers were killers, along with the team’s penalties, especially from the offensive line.
Even with that, the Cowboys had an opportunity to be playing in overtime. A penalty pushed the field goal try back and Maher missed. Here is the explanation of the penalty:
Maher initially lined up to kick the field goal from 47 yards with Dallas down 20-17, 8 seconds on the clock.
Then officials threw a flag, penalizing Cowboys long snapper L.P. Ladouceuer for a snap infraction. Maher’s field goal, backed up 5 yards, was no good.
An official told Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett Ladoucuer moved the ball in a way that caused a Redskins defensive lineman to jump offsides.
Official told Jason Garrett on fateful snap infraction penalty that L.P. Ladouceur moved the ball in a way that caused the Washington defensive lineman to jump offsides.
— David Moore (@DavidMooreDMN) October 21, 2018
Jay Gruden talked about the Redskins win over the Cowboys. This is Washington’s first win against Dallas in over two years, and Gruden knows what that means for the franchise. The Redskins take full control of the NFC East at 4-2 with today’s victory.
“It’s great to beat Dallas. That’s all I care about” – Jay Gruden. #Redskins
— Brian McNally (@bmcnally14) October 21, 2018
Yeah…it’s time to talk about it.
LINCOLN RILEY – OKLAHOMA SOONERS
Few coaches, NFL or NCAA, command the respect Lincoln Riley does.
Having spent time significant time at Texas Tech and now owning the reins at Oklahoma, only three short hours away from the home of the Cowboys, he’s quite familiar with the landscape. It also pays to note he spent two seasons as the Sooners’ offensive coordinator and QB coach, and considering the current regression issues on Dak Prescott, the potential marriage becomes exceedingly attractive. Since taking over as head coach in Norman, OK, Riley has logged a 16-2 win-loss record and — with the help of a developed Baker Mayfield — took the eventual National Championship runner-up Georgia Bulldogs to the absolute limit in the Rose Bowl last season.
One of the more creative offensive minds around, the Sooners’ have continually been a leviathan on that side of the ball, as evidenced by how they averaged 45.1 points per game in 2017 — third-highest in the nation. They were also third-best in 2016 and 2015, landing at fourth-overall in 2014. If you’re sensing a theme here, it’s because it’s staring you in the face. Joining the Cowboys would give Riley a chance to make an impact at the professional level, something he’s not yet tried, and it’s only an afternoon drive from home.
I’d be more comfortable starting him at OC, but if he pushed for the HC role, I wouldn’t offer much resistance.
Just imagine him and Kris Richard together…