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Ten thoughts on the Cowboys confounding defeat at the hands of the formerly winless Jets

Here are some things that stood out in today’s game.

Dallas Cowboys v New York Jets Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

Well, that was downright terrible.

It’s with a heavy heart and great sadness that we mourn the loss of what appears to be the 2019 season. Just kidding. We are only six games in for crying out loud, but I think we can all agree that things are not looking good. Dallas entered this game labeled as a team that could only beat bad teams. Now, they can’t even do that.

While it’s tempting to figuratively take a stroll around the ledge as we ponder this team’s fate, it’s a good time to remind everyone that there’s a lot of football left. Of course, if they’re going to keep playing bad football, then it won’t matter how many games are left. A silver lining could be that the Philadelphia Eagles are also not playing well, so the road to the playoffs only have to come with being the least non-bad team of the NFC East. That makes next week’s contest against the Eagles of paramount importance. However, after what they displayed against the Jets, it doesn’t really inspire confidence. This team is at a crossroads.

Here are 10 thoughts on this very yucky Sunday game by the Cowboys.

1. The disappearing offense

The Cowboys may have scored two touchdowns in their final two possessions, but just like last week - it was too little too late. This team has been struggling early in games, and against the Jets they only had three points through the first three quarters of football. That’s unacceptable.

Unlike last week, turnovers didn’t hold the team back. The Cowboys found different ways to not score points this week. Some questionable play-calling, terrible execution near the goal line, and an assortment of penalties made things difficult for the offense.

Yes, they were without a handful of starters on offense, but that’s no excuse. This team should have enough firepower to get points against the Jets.

2. What a big swing

It seemed innocent enough to go for it on fourth down on the Jets seven-yard line. After a third and short lost a yard, the Cowboys failed on their second straight short yardage attempt that ultimately led to a turnover on downs. It was a bold move that many people question, and in this case - it didn’t work out. No big deal. You just brush yourself off and regroup. The Jets offense took over deep in their own territory, so a quick three-and-out and the Cowboys offense would be able to get the ball back in good field position. Right?

Unfortunately, the Jets foiled that plan on the very next play when Sam Darnold hit Robbie Anderson on a 94-yard touchdown pass. Ouch!

3. Darnold, the difference maker

Entering this game, the Jets offense had 39 drives on the year, and only one of them resulted in a touchdown. And even in that one drive, it was only a length of 19 yards. The Jets offense weren’t giving them any shot to win games this season.

All that changed with with the return of Sam Darnold. The Jets put together three touchdown drives, all in the first half. Each of them went for at least 65 yards. The Jets entered the game last in the league in yards gained with an average of 180 yards per game, but they more than doubled that against the Cowboys, finishing with 382 yards on the day. It was the most yards the Cowboys defense has given up since they played that other New York team in Week 1.

4. The costly pick

Last week, the Cowboys offense was derailed with some costly picks thrown by Dak Prescott. Again, the pick hurt this team, only it wasn’t in the form of an interception. On the Cowboys opening driving of the second half, it appeared that the team was going to drive 75 yards for their first touchdown of the game, cutting the deficit to just one score. Jason Witten was wide open for the touchdown catch, only it was nullified when second-year receiver Cedrick Wilson got called for offensive pass interference. The referee believed Wilson initiated contact to pick Jets safety Jamal Adams from staying with Witten.

The CBS crew discussed the play, and it was a consensus that it was a bad call. Pass interference penalties just haven’t been kind to this Cowboys team so far this season. And it’s unfortunate too, because the Cowboys could’ve really used those extra points.

5. Fourth time’s a charm

The Cowboys first three red zone attempts didn’t go so well as the team only came away with three total points in those instances. Not only were they not scoring touchdowns, they were coming away empty handed far too many times. A turnover on downs combined with a missed field goal meant the Cowboys were squandering scoring opportunities.

It took the Cowboys all the way into the fourth quarter, but they finally found the end zone after they went 84 yards on 11 plays, capped off by an Ezekiel Elliott five-yard touchdown.

6. Pass coverage was terrible

The Cowboys defense has been shaky at times this year, but most of that comes in the form of a porous run defense. Normally, team’s don’t have a lot of success passing against them. Dallas entered the game with a top 10 pass defense, only allowing 220 yards per game. On Sunday, they surrendered 327 yards in the air, which was the most they’d given up all year. Nobody expected that to happen against the Jets offense.

The alarming thing is that a lot of times when the secondary gets beat this season, the coverage is pretty tight and the opposing offenses come down with some nice plays against them. That was not the case against the Jets. There were several instances where their receivers were wide open.

7. Maher keeps being Maher

It’s great having a kicker that has the leg Brett Maher has. Last year, he wasted no time kicking the longest field goal in franchise history with a 62-yarder against the Philadelphia Eagles as the first half expired. Well, he was at it again on Sunday with yet another 62-yard as time ran off in the second quarter. Maher became the first kicker in NFL history with two kicks over 60 yards.

There is no denying he has a big leg, but he is as erratic as they come. Maher missed two field goals last week that ended up hurting the team, and he missed a 40-yard kick early in the fourth that came back to hurt Dallas. With Maher, you know what you get with him, and there is an apparent trade off that comes with having him on the roster.

8. Injuries keep adding up

The Cowboys entered the game without their starting tackles, Tyron Smith and La’el Collins. They were also without wide receiver Randall Cobb as well. Okay, so that’s less than ideal, but the Cowboys have depth so it should be okay.

Things started getting worse for them when they lost Amari Cooper early in the game with a quad injury. Strangely, the offense started looking exactly like they used to before Cooper joined the team - ineffective. The Cowboys cornerbacks also got banged up as Byron Jones and Anthony Brown exited the game with hamstring injuries. Defensive end Dorance Armstrong also went back in the locker room with a neck injury.

That’s a lot of key players unavailable. It’s unclear the severity of each players injury, but it appears things are not going so great when it comes to health. And that’s not what we want to hear when you consider that the Philadelphia Eagles stroll into town next week.

9. Flag fest

There was a lot of laundry on the field as both teams were getting flagged left and right. The Cowboys committed eight penalties for 105 yards, and the Jets got caught nine times for 68 yards. It was a sloppy game in terms of penalties, and it never was more evident than the Cowboys last drive of the game. Both teams took turns committing penalties that gave the other team huge breaks. The Cowboys put themselves into some tough down and distances, and then the Jets turned around and bailed them out. It was not pretty.

10. The onside chance

The onside kick is a like a Sumatran Rhinoceros - they’re on the brink of extinction. Only six percent of onside kicks have been successful since the rule change, which has made this play irrelevant. So, when the Cowboys failed on their two-point conversion attempt that would’ve tied the game, the game was essentially over.

But there was an inkling of hope that popped up when Jets receiver Demaryius Thomas wasn’t able to come up with the ball cleanly on the onside kick attempt. Not only did the ball deflect off of him, but he also fumbled to grab the ball on the ground. In one last effort, he was able to pull the ball in to secure the win. Cowboys special teams ace C.J. Goodwin had a shot at it, but over ran Thomas and was out of position to jump on the ball. The Cowboys had a chance to be one of the lucky ones in the onside kick lottery, but the ball didn’t quite bounce their way.

Game over.

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