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Cowboys news: Pundits wonder if the Cowboys are frauds?

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NFL: Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Despite hype from first three weeks of season, Cowboys no longer in discussion for best in the NFC after reality check - David Moore,
It wasn’t that long ago that the Cowboys were riding high. Things have taken a dramatic turn since.

All it took was eight days.

Every ounce of excitement generated in the first three weeks of the season has evaporated. The cushion that allowed wild-eyed optimists to speculate the division would be settled by the end of the October is gone.

The Cowboys are no longer in the discussion when it comes to the best team in the conference. Dallas doesn’t even look like the best team in the NFC East at the moment.

Sunday’s 34-24 loss to Green Bay, coming on the heels of a defeat in New Orleans, is a sobering exclamation point of what this team isn’t.

Everything you thought you knew about the Cowboys to open the season has been turned upside down. The offensive swagger that was evident early has taken a hit. The numbers that were put up on this day were largely hollow, coming after the team found itself down 24-0.

A defense that appeared to be getting better was tormented at key moments by the arm of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. No shame there. The bigger issue is that it was gashed by Aaron Jones for 107 yards on the ground and four touchdowns.

NFL Panic Index: Cowboys humbled, Redskins embarrassed. Let’s assess the Week 5 damage – Lindsay Jones, The Athletic
Should Cowboys’ fans panic? Maybe not.

Panic level: Take a deep breath, it’s going to be OK (we think)

Dallas Cowboys (3-2): A 21-point fourth quarter kept the Cowboys from the stress-eating panic level below, but despite remaining tied with the Eagles for first in the NFC East, the Cowboys have reasons to worry. The biggest is how different Dak Prescott and the offense have looked in the past two games against the Saints and Packers, two teams with winning records and strong defenses, compared to the first three weeks, when the Cowboys were rolling over the Giants, Redskins and Dolphins. Prescott threw three interceptions against Green Bay (after throwing three picks in the four previous games combined) and acknowledged after the game that the Cowboys might have gotten overconfident after their 3-0 start. Falling behind 31-3 to Green Bay has to be humbling, and even if it’s not, at least Dallas gets to play the Jets next week.

Cowboys get in their own way, give another game away to Packers – Bob Sturm, The Athletic
The Sturminator summarizes the Cowboys situation after back-to-back defeats.

People will want to mock this team right now. They will want to dish out blame in specific places. I think it is pretty clear that this was a well-shared defeat where sheltering anyone might be missing the boat. The quarterback was poor; Amari Cooper tilted the game negatively despite being fantastic for most of it; the offensive line had a massive letdown; and the Cowboys’ most dependable defenders seemed to be either poor or anonymous for most of the day.

Some days, you just get beaten. While that won’t make anyone feel better, this failure was so widespread that it might be best to turn the page as soon as possible. The Cowboys had a chance to convince their critics that they were a legitimate heavyweight, and the last eight days show us that statement will have to wait.

In many ways, they did this to themselves. If you want to beat good teams, then you have to start by not beating yourself.

That clearly didn’t happen Sunday.

‘This is not good enough:’ 5 plays that decided Cowboys’ 34-24 loss to Packers – Jon Machota, The Athletic
Which plays had the most impact on the Cowboys’ home loss to the Packers?

3.) Dak Prescott’s sack with 6:39 left in the third quarter. On second-and-goal from the Green Bay 9, Prescott dropped back after taking the shotgun snap. The Cowboys lined up in 12-personnel with Randall Cobb and Amari Cooper in a bunch set to the right of the formation. It didn’t matter. Prescott didn’t have enough time to find an open receiver. Packers outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith shoved left tackle Cameron Fleming out of the way and got to Prescott before he could scramble. After the nine-yard loss, Prescott threw incomplete underneath to Ezekiel Elliott on third down. That play was never going to score a touchdown, either. Brett Maher made the 36-yard field goal to get the Cowboys on the board, but they needed seven on that drive. They walked away still trailing 24-3 with 5:54 left in the third.

Jerry Jones reacts to Cowboys' back-to-back losses - Kevin Patra,
Where do the Cowboys stand after winning three straight then losing two in a row?

It's likely the Cowboys are somewhere in the middle between the dominant team we saw early in the season and the one that struggled to move the ball for six quarters before waking up in the second half Sunday.

Sunday's big deficit wiped out the Cowboys' run-first plan. It was the first time Dallas was held scoreless in the first half this season, and the fifth time in the Dak Prescott era.

The positive for Dallas is that it moved the ball well throughout the game, with Amari Cooper whooping up on anyone lined across from him. Dallas put up 563 total yards of offense, most in a loss in team history, including 441 passing from Prescott.

Turnovers, mishaps, and unforced errors doomed the Cowboys Sunday. In the first half, Dallas ventured into Green Bay territory on four of its six possessions, but scored zero points -- two INTs and one missed field goal. On the day, Dallas threw three interceptions, missed two field goals and had 11 penalties for 124 yards. The defense also got ran over by Packers RB Aaron Jones, who scored four TDs.

The Winners and Losers of NFL Week 5 - Rodger Sherman, The Ringer
It doesn’t take a savant to know which side of the ledger the Cowboys showed up on.

Sunday, Jason Garrett almost lost yardage for winning a challenge. After a pass to Amari Cooper was ruled incomplete, he emphatically challenged the referee’s ruling, hooting and hollering and spiking his red hankie at the feet of side judge Scott Edwards. Edwards, apparently upset by the way Garrett threw the challenge flag at him, or perhaps the language Garrett used, threw a flag of his own, penalizing Garrett for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Crew chief Ron Torbert said the flag was for “abusive language.” I kinda wish Garrett and Edwards had just continued hurling larger and larger flags in the air, like Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam, until somebody was flailing at one of those field-sized American flags they bring out during the national anthem.

I think most of the laughter here was at Garrett for drawing a flag, but I actually think he got the raw end of this exchange. His challenge was justified, as the call was overturned upon review. I’m more disappointed in the ref, who got so defensive that a coach was mad about the incorrect call that he changed the game’s course of play.

Irate Jason Garrett, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and how a lack of challenges eventually burned the Cowboys - Michael Gehiken,
Jason Garrett angrily throwing a challenge flag might be the most enduring image from an otherwise forgettable Cowboys’ loss.

Garrett needing to use his final challenge on Cooper's reception didn't burn the Cowboys immediately.

Like a flicker to a log, it took time.

On first-and-25, quarterback Dak Prescott immediately plopped a perfect pass to running back Ezekiel Elliott in traffic for a 27-yard gain. First-and-10. More chunk plays followed, the drive culminating in a 2-yard Elliott touchdown run.

The reckoning came on the first play of the Cowboys' next drive.

With more than 10 minutes left in regulation, Dallas took possession at its own 34-yard line. If momentum exists as a construct in sports, the Cowboys had it, having scored in each of their past three possessions to trail 31-17 at AT&T Stadium.

On first down, wide receiver Michael Gallup was practically mugged in press coverage. Cornerback Kevin King grabbed his shoulder and smacked his helmet. Take your pick: There was plenty of physicality on the route, which Prescott saw.

The contact prompted a throw that King intercepted.

3 takeaways from Cowboys' loss to Packers, including disappointing LBs and a rookie's promising debut - John Owning,
If your eyes led you to question the performance of the Cowboys dynamic duo at linebacker, you weren’t alone. John Owning helps us understand why.

Entering the season, the prevailing opinion was that the Cowboys possessed the best linebacker core in the NFL. And that made sense.

Vander Esch was coming off an outstanding rookie campaign that saw him make the Pro Bowl and All-Pro second team. Smith was similarly effective as the enforcer in the middle of the defense. Sean Lee was being forced to play a new position, but most believed he would still be moderately effective, at least. Behind those three, Joe Thomas was viewed as one of the league's best reserves, a player who could certainly start for another franchise.

Despite the preseason accolades, the Cowboys' linebackers got taken to school by Green Bay, bringing back memories of losses to the Los Angeles Rams and Indianapolis Colts last season.

Although the interior defensive line played poorly, the linebackers shouldn't escape blame. They struggled mightily, even when arriving at the ball carrier on time.

Missed tackles and poor run fits killed the Cowboys throughout the game and were largely why Jones was able to become the first player with four-plus touchdowns against Dallas since 1994, finishing with 107 rushing yards on 19 carries and 75 receiving yards on seven catches.

Vander Esch was particularly disappointing, as his sloppy tackling and poor gap discipline led to a few big plays for Green Bay's offense.

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