ARLINGTON – The Dallas Cowboys know how to put on a good show.
You can take that however you want. Whether the first three games or the last two, is the true identity of this team remains to be seen. What is for certain is Sunday’s 34-24 loss against the Green Bay Packers temporarily confirmed all suspicions that have surrounded this team this year.
On the surface, the box score shows a Dallas offense who posted over 500 yards of total offense, while allowing around 350 yards of offense from Green Bay.
If you only watched the final half, you saw Dallas outscore Green Bay 24-14. And in the final minutes, with Dallas down 34-24, they were allowed to reduce the Packers’ lead to a single possession.
Unfortunately, Dallas was unable to find their way into the endzone and had to settle for a 27-yard Brett Maher field goal. Snap, hold and kick. Maher booted it in, but due to a false start penalty was forced to re-kick from 33 yards out.
Snap. Hold. Kick. Miss. After Dallas had strung together three touchdown drives in the second half, the game was decided on the leg of a kicker who had missed from 54 yards on their final possession of the second half. But even with the disappointing miss, it never felt as if the Cowboys deserved to win this game.
Two first-half interceptions and a missed field goal had Dallas facing a 17-0 deficit heading into the half.
On their first possession, Dak Prescott led the offense past midfield before he attempted to find Amari Cooper sprinting across the middle of the field. Cooper beat his man on an inside post but allowed the ball to bounce off his hands right into the arms of cornerback Jaira Alexander.
After being forced into a three-and-out the drive prior, Green Bay capitalized on the interception with a five-play 47-yard drive capped off by an Aaron Jones three-yard touchdown – his first of four on the day.
Even with the quick shift in momentum, it felt as if Dallas still controlled the game. Green Bay showed no signs of slowing the Cowboys down and it continued on their second possession. Set up on their 10, Ezekiel Elliott picked up a quick 12 yards up the middle.
A couple of plays later, Cooper would route up Alexander once again on a double move. Prescott rocketed the pass downfield for a gain of 46 yards. But their success would end there. Forced with a third-and-7, Prescott took a 10-yard sack that knocked them out of field goal range.
Aaron Rodgers would waste no time trying to jump out to a two-possession lead on the road. A lengthy nine-play drive from the Packers offense was once again capped off by an Aaron Jones three-yard touchdown run.
Things began to spiral for Dallas and a reoccurring theme began to emerge for the offense. Prescott and his offense were once again able to fight their way down into enemy territory. Nearing field goal range, Prescott attempted an errant throw down the middle to Randall Cobb. A sea of green jerseys converged on Cobb as soon as the ball was released. And it resulted in Prescott’s second pick of the game.
The Dallas defense stood up and forced a three-and-out. Contrarily, the Cowboys offense would not take advantage and be forced to punt.
Green Bay was able to put another three points up, while Maher squandered Dallas’ chance to get three on a missed 54-yard field goal right before the half.
Dallas opened the second half and was forced into a three-and-out. The Dallas defense did not find the same success slowing the opposing offense down. Aaron Jones pushed the Packers lead to 24-0 following his five-yard touchdown run on the seventh play of the drive.
Dallas found a way to finally net a field goal after an 11-play drive. Green Bay’s offense continued to stay hot as they only needed four plays to extend their lead to 31-3.
Right on schedule, Prescott began lighting up the third-quarter just as he has done all season.
A 40-yard dime to Michael Gallup down the right sideline gave Dallas their first touchdown of the night.
Following the Green Bay three-and-out, the Cowboys used five plays to punch it in with Elliott from two yards out to cut the deficit to 14.
Another Green Bay punt set the Cowboys up in a prime position to reduce the Packers lead to seven with more than 10 minutes remaining in the fourth.
But on the first play of the drive, Prescott threw his third interception of the ball game. Possible pass interference on Kevin King against Gallup was overlooked. And the pick set Green Bay up on the Dallas 29-yard line.
Their drive ended in a field goal.
Down 34-17, with eight minutes left, a possible comeback seemed bleak. Until Prescott connected with Cooper down the left sideline for a 53-yard touchdown. The two-play drive only took 20 seconds off the game clock.
Another punt from Green Bay gave Dallas the ball back with three and a half minutes to go score. The favor was not with them.
Dallas will take a week to assess their first-half mishaps before traveling to go see the New York Jets next Sunday.
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