The Dallas Cowboys capped off an exciting two-week layoff with a disappointing showing against the Tennessee Titans, losing 28-14. The Cowboys now sit at 3-5 and are two games behind the Washington Redskins.
The Cowboys will go from one prime-time affair to another as they will be under the lights again next Sunday night when they travel to Philadelphia in what will be a big NFC East divisional battle. While it’s going to be an excruciating week until Sunday gets here, this one’s going to sting a bit. Here are my 10 thoughts on their game against the Titans.
1. Honoring a Legend
15 seasons, 1,152 catches, and 12,448 yards - Jason Witten was a special player for the Cowboys organization. And on Monday night, the front office paid a little tribute to the legendary tight end.
Jason Witten wiped away tears as this video tribute was played before tonight’s game. (Narrated by Tony Romo) pic.twitter.com/kDtmUWbfKj— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) November 6, 2018
2. Welcome to Dallas, Amari
The Cowboys new offensive weapon didn’t waste any time making a splash. On the team’s second possession, he caught a four-yard pass for the Cowboys first score of the game.
AMARI COOPER'S FIRST TOUCHDOWN WITH THE COWBOYS AND IT IS BEAUTIFUL pic.twitter.com/vtyCNVgoiZ— Blogging The Boys (@BloggingTheBoys) November 6, 2018
Cooper finished with five catches for only 58 yards and looked like a good piece to this offense. Jason Witten would emphasize how well he breaks out of his route to create separation and it gave Prescott an open target. It’s a shame the Cowboys couldn’t utilize him more.
3. Wasted opportunities
The Cowboys looked like they were going to roll the Titans after a first quarter that saw the Dallas defense recover two fumbles and set the offense up with three-straight red zone scoring opportunities. Unfortunately, Brett Maher missed a very make-able field goal and Dak Prescott threw into double coverage in the end zone causing the offense to come up empty on two of those possessions.
In a game where the fans were feeling good early, that goodness went away as the Titans eventually tied it up and Dallas never had the lead again.
4. Stop making terrible challenges!
I don’t know who upstairs is responsible for signalling down to Jason Garrett to challenge the play, but they are not doing a good job. The Cowboys have had three-straight failed challenge attempts, and to be honest - they aren’t even that close.
As Jason Witten mentioned in the broadcast, someone upstairs is going to get a talking to about this as those mistakes can come back to bite you.
5. Couldn’t stop the Titans playmakers
Marcus Mariota has been struggling all year, but wouldn’t you know it - he showed up against the Cowboys. Mariota was 21 for 29 for just 240 yards but was very efficient, averaging 8.3 yards per attempt. He stood in the pocket and delivered nice throws into tight windows. It was a good performance by the Titans young quarterback.
Not only did Mariota played well, but the Cowboys couldn’t stop Dion Lewis either as he went toe-to-toe with Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott. Both players had 50+ yards rushing and receiving and both players had a 37-yard reception. Lewis would out-scrimmaged Elliott 122 to 112.
6. Offensive line struggles continue
Amari Cooper wasn’t the only big change in Big D during the bye week. After offensive line coach Paul Alexander was fired, assistant coach Marc Colombo was promoted and former OL coach Hudson Houck was brought over to help.
It started out looking good. In the first half, the group didn’t give up a sack and didn’t have any penalties. But in the second half, the wheels completely came off. Prescott was sacked five times, the penalties started, and the offense couldn’t sustain any drives. They couldn’t even protect Cole Beasley when they gave him a shot to throw the ball.
Both TDs tonight have occurred because of extra time in the pocket. The O-line looks better for sure. #Cowboyswire— Nick Eatman (@nickeatman) November 6, 2018
First game with OL change: 5 sacks allowed, 3.6 yards per carry for Ezekiel Elliott.— Bobby Belt (@BobbyBeltTX) November 6, 2018
7. Saved by the whistle?
When Prescott had the ball stripped from him as he was trying to get away, the whistle blew in what appeared to be a blessing for the Cowboys. The whistle blowing has always meant the play was now dead, however somehow the officials decided to allow the play to continue.
When it’s all said and done, the right call was made as it looked like a premature whistle in the first place, but I have never seen them let the play continue.
I thought whistles ended plays? I thought the whistle was our hero. WHEN DID WHISTLES STOP COUNTING— Jeff Cavanaugh (@JC1053) November 6, 2018
8. Third-down dominance
The Cowboys offense had all kinds of trouble moving the ball. They were absolutely terrible on third down, only converting on 3 of 11 tries. It wasn’t enough that they weren’t converting, but sometimes it looked like they just gave up. I’m not sure why they love throwing a screen pass on third and long so much. I mean, at least try to make a play beyond the sticks.
And as bad as the Cowboys offense was on third down, the Titans went the other direction as they were unstoppable. Tennessee finished 11-14 on the night. The Cowboys defense just couldn’t get off the field.
9. Same old, same old
Last time we left this team, we watched an offense that couldn’t do anything. With some changes during the bye week, we came into this game with hope. To make matters worse, the Cowboys defense struggled to get off the field. It was as if we were watching a 3-5 football team.
A really uncharacteristic night for the Dallas defense, but it’s hard to forget all the different ways this offense hasn’t helped them. Amari Cooper gave this offense a nice first quarter spark, and ever since it’s been the same ol’ #cowboyswire— David Helman (@HelmanDC) November 6, 2018
10. Respect the Star!
On Sunday, Michael Thomas paid homage to a cell phone touchdown celebration from Joe Horn back in 2003. Kevin Byard channeled his inner Terrell Owens and decided to go stand on the star at midfield following his interception in the end zone. Maybe he forgot how that worked for TO because Byron Jones made sure to stop by and remind him that’s not cool.
I love Byron Jones.