There are weeks where it’s really easy to find five winners and then there’s what happened to the Dallas Cowboys at Lucas Oil Stadium against the Indianapolis Colts. Needless to say we’re digging deep here, gang.
It’s true that the Cowboys got skunked in Indy and at the end of the day they control their playoff destiny just as much as they did before it. The NFL is weird like that.
Welcome to the latest edition of five winners, five losers, and whatever else happens here at BTB. Let’s buckle up and hope it doesn’t hurt too badly.
Winner: Indianapolis Colts
The Indianapolis Colts defeated the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. In the truest and most literal sense of winners and losers, they are the winners. This is objectively fair and accurate.
(I told you this would be tough).
Winner: Matt Eberflus
Getting serious now, Coach Flus said hello to his old squad in style. There’s likely not another active coach in the league that knows Jason Garrett, Rod Marinelli, Scott Linehan, and Co. better than Flus and that was quite evident throughout the game.
This is Flus’ first season as a defensive coordinator in the NFL. The first shutout that he pitched came against his former team.
That’s a pretty big winner in my book.
Winner: Ezekiel Elliott
The only player on the Cowboys who seemed to show up in Indianapolis was the running back who once had himself quite the day at Lucas Oil Stadium (think Big Ten Championship).
Zeke seemingly gave more than everyone else and did so to the tune of 25 total touches. It’s not the 40 that he had a week ago against Philadelphia but it’s definitely enough to warrant an ice bath.
Rest up, Zeke. Thanks for doing all you could.
Winner: Going for it on fourth down
We’ll have more on this in a bit (spoiler alert) but the Dallas Cowboys went for it on fourth down quite a lot against the Colts. In fact they rolled the dice five times. FIVE!
Jason Garrett is a lot of things but something that he typically isn’t is a gambler. This makes me think of the movie 21 that was about those Harvard kids who would go to Las Vegas every weekend to count cards. At one point one of them is getting scolded for bucking the previously put in place system and is told that he’s no longer counting and that he’s gambling.
When you go for it on fourth down five times in a single game, you’re not really counting anymore. Good for Jason Garrett the gambler though. Again, we’ll re-visit this soon.
Winner: Gut-check game truthers
There are plenty of folks who wanted the Dallas Cowboys to get a bit of a reality check before the playoffs started and if you’re one of them then boy did you enjoy the Colts game.
Dallas ate the whole humble pie thanks to not scoring a single point, and while it is a bit narrative-driven, there is definitely some truth to the whole getting checked before things get serious idea.
The Cowboys have been checked. It’s time to respond.
Loser: The Dallas Cowboys
They didn’t score a single point.
Loser: Jamize Olawale
Early on in the game Cowboys fans everywhere began to jump out of their seats as a Dak Prescott pass floated in the air towards a soon-to-be-in-the-endzone Jamize Olawale. The thing about that play though was that Olawale needed to catch the ball. He didn’t.
These were the types of things that made this game so frustrating. The Cowboys couldn’t get out of their own way. They botched simple things. That can’t happen in the postseason.
Loser: The idea of winning with Sean Lee
Sean Lee is one of the best players on the Dallas Cowboys. That is still true. That being said, the Dallas Cowboys just can’t seem to find a way to win with one of their best players on the field.
I know he's only played like four snaps, BUT...— Bobby Belt (@BobbyBeltTX) December 16, 2018
Cowboys will likely move to 1-5 in games Sean Lee plays in this year. 7-1 when he sits.
This was Sean Lee’s first return to Indianapolis since having a pick-six during his rookie season. Things did not go that way on Sunday.
Loser: Leighton Vander Esch’s DROY chances
To a degree the Cowboys/Colts game was the DROY Bowl. The award is very likely going to be earned by Darius Leonard or Leighton Vander Esch and after Sunday it looks like it’s going to be the former.
Leonard was spectacular (shout out to Flus again) for the Colts while Vander Esch had one of his worse days since the Wolf Hunter phenomenon began. There are two weeks left in the regular season but the DROY box should already be addressed to Indianapolis.
Loser: Fourth-down conversion rate
I promised you we’d be back here and I’m a man of my word!
Yes, the Cowboys went for it on fourth down five times and that’s the type of music that will turn any normal party into a rager, but the thing about those five times is that they only converted once. That’s not good.
This game was broken in many senses for the Cowboys and to be honest the frequency at which they went for it on fourth down had me wondering whether Brett Maher had been hurt after his blocked field goal (another losing moment), it was that uncharacteristic. Maybe the Cowboys were experimenting for the playoffs or maybe they were just rolling dice. Either way, their gambles didn’t pay off.
Thankfully the Colts game is over and we never have to talk about it again. Right? Right. Next up is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and as long as the Cowboys score a single point they’ll have made progress. The standard has been set!