It was a mixed bag for the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night. Between miscues by seemingly every member of the Cowboys’ offense, coupled with some truly stalwart defense from the New Orleans Saints, it seemed like absolutely nothing went right for the team on offense.
However, thanks to some very strong defense of their own, the Cowboys were able to stay competitive, even though they ended up losing.
Examples of the offensive struggles were numerous last night. Quarterback Dak Prescott in multiple instances lost track of where defenders were and ended up on his back. Several times, normally sure receivers, like Amari Cooper and Jason Witten, dropped perfect passes. Or, conversely, on multiple occasions Prescott underthrew or overthrew wide open targets, something uncharacteristic for the star.
Ezekiel Elliott, who is the team’s unquestioned leader and most talented player, had a very un-Elliott type of game. On 18 carries, he only managed to rush for 35 total yards, with his longest individual play being a pickup of just six yards.
Elliot also contributed to the team’s woes by losing a fumble during a promising march down the field.
These unforced mistakes would prove to be the team’s downfall.
And the Saints defense did the Cowboys no favors, either. Despite being mediocre so far this season, ranking 24th out of 32 in total defense, the Saints turned the dial up on Sunday.
When Prescott and his receivers weren’t shooting themselves in the feet, they were being invalidated by some suffocating coverage by cornerback Marshon Lattimore and the other corners. Safety Vonn Bell seemed to be everywhere on the field as well, making things very hard for every member of the Dallas offense. And with the game hanging in the balance on the last play, Marcus Williams preserved the win with a clutch interception.
But despite being shut down offensively, how did Dallas find itself with a chance to win the game on the last play? The Cowboys did it through the strength of their own defense.
Leighton Vander Esch showed why he might just be the most fearsome linebacker in the NFC this season. His strong play almost entirely neutralized.
Constant pressure was applied to Saints QB Teddy Bridgewater, including some key sacks by defensive end Robert Quinn and others as time was winding down that gave the Cowboys any chance at all.
For the Cowboys, Sunday’s loss should be a troubling sign for the offense. It was simply put, one of the worst games Prescott, Elliott, Cooper and the rest of the team have had in a long time, and maybe ever. They simply need to play better next week versus the Green Bay Packers.
On the other hand, Cowboys fans should at least be somewhat comforted by the play of their defense, which played well enough to give them a shot at winning, despite the offense’s abysmal performance.