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Crunching stats: Things get ugly for Cowboys against the Packers

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You don’t need the numbers to tell you how bad the Cowboys were. We give them to you anyway.

Green Bay Packers v Dallas Cowboys
That one was really bad.
Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

This is getting depressing. Another poor performance, this one pretty much across the board, doomed the Dallas Cowboys to their second consecutive loss, this time against the Green Bay Packers. It was bad. Before they mounted a late and eventually meaningless charge, they trailed by scores of 24-0 and 31-3. The final score is deceptive, because this was a total and complete whipping.

Here are a few stats. It is fewer than normal for these weekly inspections, because a lot of the numbers don’t tell us anything of real import. These, however, are the ones that really determined the outcome.

3 interceptions

They were all thrown by Dak Prescott. And there really should have been more, plus a fumble.

This is where the game was really lost. And none of the picks were more influential than that first one.

Just to remind you - sorry, I know it is painful to think about - the Cowboys opened the game by forcing a three-and-out from Aaron Rodgers and company. Rodgers would go on to have another of the frustrating performances (for us) when he made silly throws that would up gaining big yards and moving the sticks. But that first series came up dry for Green Bay, and put the Cowboys exactly where they wanted to be. They took the ball after the punt and things were clicking. After a three-yard gain, they got a 23-yard pass to Amari Cooper to get them out to midfield, then a 12-yard run from Ezekiel Elliott kept things rolling. Then Prescott found Cooper again in the red zone. The pass was behind Cooper, but he managed to get his hands on it.

Just not for long. It caromed off right to Jaire Alexander, who then wove a run all the way back to the Dallas 47. Rodgers smelled the blood in the water, and took only five plays to get seven points up.

The interception was a huge boost for the Packers, and it, and the ensuing scoring drive, seemed to shock the Cowboys into a bit of a stupor that they did not really recover from until it was far too late. Had Cooper hauled that pass in Dallas would at least have come away with points - or should have.

It was just a terrible response from a team that had us hoping for so much more and it was only the beginning of the turnover woes. Prescott would throw another pick early in the second quarter, and this one was all on him. The final interception was certainly questionable, with replay showing that Kevin King just mugged Michael Gallup before getting the pick. With other turnovers from Prescott being nullified by penalty, there is no real excuse. Being minus three in turnovers, which of course means the Cowboys again could not take the ball away from the opponent, is almost always going to hand a loss on a team.

4 rushing touchdowns

Those of course were the ones scored by Aaron Jones, the other Aaron that became a thorn in the Cowboys’ collective side. And like the interceptions, the first one was the biggest, because he went right up the gut against the Dallas defense that had been so stingy in the red zone before this game.

It was an unfortunate harbinger as Jones went on to score all of the Packers’ touchdowns, and had several other embarrassingly long runs. Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith had arguably their worst game since pairing up, with several missed tackles. Jones was basically the running attack for the Packers. He came into the game averaging just under 50 yards a game and one touchdown in each of the four weeks, but he amassed 107 on the ground (of a total of 120 for Green Bay) and added 75 receiving, which also led his team.

This is a too-familiar refrain. A fairly mediocre player comes into a game against the Cowboys and just goes off. And a team that has done little in a given aspect of the game, in this case the Packers’ 26th in the league rushing attack, gashes them.

Disturbing is the only way to put this continuing trend. A week ago the defense was what kept the Cowboys in the game against the New Orleans Saints. Against the Packers, it failed. It was on a level with the similarly inept performance of the offense.

Sacks

The Cowboys only had two sacks, and gave up three. That is not horrible on the face of it, but the timing is what is important. Prescott was sacked during the dry spell, which contributed to the lack of scoring early. Both of the sacks of Rodgers were in the fourth quarter when the score was already lopsided enough that Green Bay really had to just bleed the clock and go home with the win. For the Packers, they were timely. For the Cowboys, as with so much about the game, it was too little, too late.

Penalties

This was a badly officiated game. But even with that, Dallas was horrendous, getting flagged 11 times for 124 yards, including one on the head coach for being angry and using bad language to one of the officials.

This is another area where the Cowboys have been bad all season. This was still one of the worst, and obviously it did not help them at all.

There are a lot of other things, like poor third-down performance by the offense, that could be dissected, but the four things examined here were together far too much. The turnovers alone probably would have been too much to overcome, and together, these selected numbers doomed the team to now have a 3-2 record and facing a really uphill battle to get their momentum back on a season that has turned.

The next two games before the bye are now crucial. They need to assert themselves against the New York Jets, a legitimately bad team, and then go into a battle with the Philadelphia Eagles that will probably have a lot to do with who wins the NFC East.

It is not where they hoped to be, and in this game, they really did it to themselves in more ways than one.