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Cowboys vs. Titans: Five winners, five losers, and a whole lot in between as Dallas hits a new low

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A whole lot happened.

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Even though the Dallas Cowboys have been disappointing this season their loss Monday night was a little hard to believe. It was hard to believe that they could sink that low.

Dallas got off to a hot start in Jason Witten’s homecoming and then that heat dissipated rather quickly. The Tennessee Titans won for the second time in Jerry Jones’ palace in Arlington and the Cowboys fell to 3-5 in an NFC East that’s dying for someone to take it.

The Cowboys are the losers of the game, but there are losers beyond that. There are winners, too! Let’s discuss. And let’s discuss in a bit of a twist with the losers first, shall we? I’m sure that’ll go over well.


Loser: Jason Garrett and the Cowboys coaching staff

Let’s start with the obvious, shall we?

The Dallas Cowboys coaching staff is on life support. They had an extra week of preparation for tonight and the rest of the season with last week’s bye, Jason Garrett going to Los Angeles for the World Series shockingly hasn’t been brought back up all that much, and they came out flatter than flat. They were so flat that they began to concave inward.

If we’re being honest the Cowboys should have been defeated more handily, or at least sooner than they were, by the Titans. Marcus Mariota missed Corey Davis early on in the fourth quarter and Ryan Succop missed the ensuing field goal. That was a gift given to the Cowboys as they trailed by seven.

This was instantly the most important drive of the season for the Cowboys. Trailing by a touchdown they had all of the momentum, started with the ball at their own 20-yard line, and they actually managed to lose 10 yards. What does it say about the coaching staff that with everything on the line they moved backwards?!


Loser: Dak Prescott and what little faith there was in him before this game

Michael Irvin can get as worked up as he wants on whatever network he’s in on, but we’re getting farther and farther away from Dak Prescott’s rookie season. A wise prophet named Joseph Tribbiani once referred to the line of something being so far away that it was a dot. Dak’s rookie year is a dot.

It’s not just that Dak Prescott isn’t making big-time throws. He is turning the ball over. He is also making basic, fundamental errors out there and it is all costing the Cowboys. Patience is wearing thin.

Like it or not, the Cowboys are committed to Prescott through, at the very least, the beginning of next season. Prescott shouldn’t get the big contract that he was hoping for in the offseason, but he does have the faith of Jerry Jones and that’s a valuable thing.

Eight games left in 2018. They’ll be bumpy.


Loser: The idea of football being able to be played like everybody wants

Leighton Vander Esch got called for a ridiculous penalty on Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota. The NFL is all about making the game safer and that’s obviously a good thing that nobody wants to be untrue, but the league is making it impossible to play the game itself.

Tyrone Crawford spoke after the game about how he was displeased with officiating and who can blame him? Between this, the timeout fiasco from earlier in the game, and the snap infraction in Washington things have been grim coming from the zebras.


Loser: The whole “we have a good defense that can close situations!” vibe

The Hot Boyz was a fun group to rally around and celebrate when they were getting sacks earlier on in the season and fumbles early on against Tennessee, but it’s time to face the facts that the Cowboys defense might be just a tad bit overrated.

There’s no denying that the defense doesn’t get any help from the offense, but the fact remains that they should still be a solid group on their own. They got wrecked by the Titans, especially on third downs and that’s not a very good thing.

We referenced the timeout fiasco that happened on the 3rd and 10 (which ultimately led to a Tennessee touchdown by the way), but that’s a lot of conversions for some long yardage. How? How does that happen? How does that happen against what’s supposed to be a legit defense?

It doesn’t.


Loser: Hope for the playoffs, probably

This seems obvious, but the Cowboys losing their fifth game before the first week of November is even over does a lot of negative damage to their playoff odds.

The Cowboys are sitting on five losses and have games at Philadelphia, at Atlanta, against Washington, and against New Orleans (which could include Dez Bryant) up next. That’s not enticing at all.

It’s likely going to take about 10 wins to win the NFC East, and it’s surely going to take that many to compete for a wildcard spot in the NFC (although the most likely route for Dallas is the division). Assuming that’s the case, a fair assumption, then the Cowboys can only stand to lose just one more game in the second half of the season. That feels... unlikely.


Winner: Amari Cooper, wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys

There’s a lot to be upset about with the Cowboys these days, no one is denying that, but among the things on that long list there is not Amari Cooper.

The Cowboys traded a first-round pick for Amari’s services and he certainly looks like, in a vacuum of just who he is individually, he’s worth it. Cooper scored a touchdown on just his second drive with the Cowboys and finished the game with five catches for 58 yards and the score (he hit both the overs!).

If you need something to get excited about with the Cowboys let it be Amari Cooper. The WR1 we’ve been looking for has definitely arrived.


Winner: Byron Jones, George Teague, and defending the star

After an interception in the Cowboys endzone Tennessee Titans safety Kevin Byard took to midfield and did his best Terrell Owens impression by posing on the Cowboys star. It was, well, whatever.

When T.O. did it there was a man, no a legend, that would not stand for it. George Teague ran him down and pushed him off the midfield logo and as fate would have it the player who wears Teague’s number did the very same to Byard. Shout out to Byron Jones.

Respect.


Winner: Creativity! Kind of! Not really!

You caught me, I’m sneaking in a loser under the winners umbrella, but I mean, you watched this game. There weren’t a lot of winners.

What I’m about to tell you is a real thing. This isn’t made up. Coming back from the two-minute warning, trailing by 14 points, the Cowboys had the ball on the 13-yard line and dialed up a “Philly special” sort of play where Cole Beasley threw a pass. Seriously.

This felt like such a reach and as if the Cowboys were only doing something mildly “creative” so that they could appease anybody who wants them to be on a consistent basis. It was unreal. We all saw it happen and I still don’t believe that it actually happened.


Winner: Those who believe in curses, cause there might be a new one

The Dallas Cowboys wore their blue jerseys with white pants for the second time ever against the Titans, and boy are people upset about the blue part.

It’s well-known how the Cowboys blues are thought to be cursed by many fans, and heck at this point anything is possible. We just saw a game where Cole Beasley threw a pass under two minutes for crying out loud.

Something else of note as far as curses to though might be Jason Witten. Entering Monday night the Cowboys had last lost at home during the 2017 home finale against the Seattle Seahawks. Obviously we didn’t know it at the time but that wound up being Witten’s last game ever at AT&T Stadium.

Well did you know that the Cowboys had gone undefeated at home ever since? They won the next three home games all in a row and then Jason Witten showed up with ESPN for the Tennessee game and they lost. That’s... unsettling.

(this isn’t actually a real though, but we all need a smile, hope it brought that to you).


Winner: Receivers coming on as a group

The Cowboys saw two different receivers catch touchdowns against Tennessee, Amari Cooper and Allen Hurns. That’s cool and all, but it’s also uncharted territory for the team this season.

Before this happened against the Titans it hadn’t happened all season. The Cowboys had yet to have two different receivers both catch a touchdown in the same game at any point all season. It’s a bit unfortunate that we’re just crossing into this territory in November, but hey better late than never, right?


We waited over two weeks for the Cowboys to play after we last saw them in Washington. This time around we don’t even have to wait a single week as they’re operating on a short week coming off of Monday Night Football. Dallas heads to Philadelphia on Sunday for the night game against the defending world champions who are coming off of their bye and have a new receiver to debut. Dallas hasn’t won on the road yet this season, so it should be easy and fun and not at all terrifying.

Let’s have as best a week as we can, amigos.