The Cowboys threw away their playoff hopes on Christmas Eve.
This was just another one of the inexplicably inept performances by Dallas, where they found a way to lose despite outgaining the opponent by better than a two to one margin. Prescott at times looked lost, again, and there were few big plays to be had.
Now that their last playoff chance has been crushed, it is time to look to the future, and Dallas has a tremendous number of questions to answer. They do not have the suspension of one of their star performers looming over them, but there were five losses this year where they simply did themselves in.
This last debacle leaves a bad taste in the mouth, and they may even be facing another 8-8 season. It was both unexpected and somehow typical of this year’s team.
Archer recaps the loss.
There is one game left to play, but the ramifications will only be for jobs on this team or another for players and coaches in 2018.
The Cowboys can look back at the Seattle loss as a crusher, but their season was put in a bind with Elliott’s suspension and a miserable losing streak in the first three games without their star running back.
Sunday just put off what was likely anyway.
The Seahawks did what the Cowboys couldn’t: keep their playoff hopes alive.
Early afternoon losses by the Falcons and Lions created a prime opportunity for the winner of this contest. Five minutes into the festivities, Dallas lost All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith to an aggravated knee injury while Seattle received a boost when Defensive Player of the Year candidate Bobby Wagner began channeling pre-injury form. While the Cowboys defense did its part in harassing Russell Wilson and shutting down the Seahawks' rushing attack, Dez Bryant's fumble and a pair of Dak Prescott interceptions turned out to be the difference on a day when scoring drives were elusive.
It wasn’t the best way for the Cowboys to play in their star player’s return.
In the end, the return of a leaner Ezekiel Elliott meant absolutely nothing.
This Dallas Cowboys season went amiss a long time ago.
The offense and the passing game struggled before Elliott, the star running back and focal point of the offense, began a six-game suspension.
Jon writes his weekly five thoughts. He says the Cowboys will never reach their full potential with the way Dak and Dez’s chemistry currently is.
The Dez Bryant-Dak Prescott connection is the biggest reason for this loss. It appears to be regressing. Blame whichever player you want. Neither played well enough to win.
Bryant dropped passes, lost a fumble and tipped a ball that was intercepted. I've never seen him have a game like that. It's odd that those two were never able to get pit going this season.
As great as Ezekiel Elliott can be in this offense, they'll never reach their potential with Prescott and Bryant being this far off Sunday after Sunday.
Speaking of Dez, what is his future in Dallas?
Owner Jerry Jones refused to speculate.
"I don’t even want to visit with that. We have a lot of respect for all the good things that Dez brings. He’s come a long way and made some serious positive contributions to the team. I wouldn’t today get into any prognosis or evaluation or prediction about what we’re doing with a player other than the fact that you can look at their agreements and their contracts and know that we have them on the team,” Jones said.
Dak notes that he has to “throw a better ball” to number 88.
Quarterback Dak Prescott was stymied by the Seattle defense, unable to find the end zone over the course of the game. His lack of connections with wide receiver Dez Bryant were well-documented and it was something he commented on after the game:
“I think I have to throw him a better ball. Just put it right there on his face mask and don’t give him a chance to drop it, I guess,” Prescott said, per Clarence Hill Jr.
One of the biggest head-scratchers of the game (season?) was Scott Linehan’s decision to NOT give the ball to his superstar running back after having a first-and-goal from the three and a second-and-goal from the two; however, Jerry Jones won’t second guess the play call.
“On hindsight, I wish, we all wish, that we’d tried Zeke in there,” Jones said. “They were really stacking it up for us [to stop the run]. We all understood that. We’ve seen and had a lot of good things happen for us with Dak [Prescott] faking that ball in there and keeping it himself. But at the end, I’d like to have them all back down there and just tried to see what we could do with Zeke all the way up in there. But we all know how that works.”
Stevenson writes on the questionable decision.
When the Dallas Cowboys needed him most, they didn’t call his name.
With the ball on the Seattle Seahawks’ 2-yard line and trailing by nine points, the Cowboys refused to give the ball to running back Ezekiel Elliott on four consecutive plays and were forced to attempt a 34-yard field goal. Dan Bailey missed it with less than six minutes remaining in the game.
The Zeke injury definitely hurt, but Iyer writes that there is more to the Cowboys’ disappointing season than just that.
Jerry Jones and too much complacency.
The Cowboys tried not to mess with the success of last year's formula. That's good for a clear identity, but Dallas needed to adjust, adapt and grow in order to keep up with the teams doing the same all the time. The Eagles, Vikings, Rams and Saints are new NFC front-running playoff teams because they upped the ante on what they were trying to do offensively. Status quo doesn't work in the NFL from one season to the next, let alone one week to the next.
Jones' and the rest of Dallas' front office hit everything out of the park with the drafting of Elliott and Presott in 2016. But the follow-up work, limited by the salary cap, left much to be desired. The Cowboys were just trying to be a better version of themselves in 2017, but the competitive stakes were raised, and so was the level of adversity.