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The end of the first half from the Cowboys in Philadelphia was conservatism at its finest

No aggressiveness from the Cowboys in a must-win game.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys did not score a touchdown in their road game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Not scoring a touchdown in any football game is embarrassing, having that be true of your team in a must-win game with a division title on the line is an indictment of the highest order.

So how exactly do you not score a touchdown, though? Obviously you never cross into the endzone, but it starts before that. To not score a touchdown you have to play things insanely conservative and, well, that’s what the Dallas Cowboys do best.

There is no better example of this than what Dallas did at the end of the first half

The Eagles attempted a 53-yard field goal with very little time left in the first half (they were up 10-3 at this point) and Jake Elliott missed it. Hello, golden opportunity.

Dallas got the ball on their own 43-yard line with 29 seconds left in the half. While fully acknowledging that 29 seconds isn’t exactly a lot of time to travel 57 yards, the Cowboys had all three timeouts. There was more than enough time and situation to play with.

Now that you have been refreshed on the situation here is the exact sequence of what transpired:

  • 1-10-DAL 43 (:29) (Shotgun) D.Prescott pass short right to M.Gallup to PHI 41 for 16 yards
  • Timeout #1 by DAL at 00:24
  • 1-10-PHI 41 (:24) (Shotgun) D.Prescott pass short right to A.Cooper to PHI 35 for 6 yards
  • Timeout #2 by DAL at 00:18
  • 2-4-PHI 35 (:18) (Shotgun) D.Prescott pass short middle to M.Gallup to PHI 22 for 13 yards
  • Timeout #3 by DAL at 00:11
  • 1-10-PHI 22 (:11) (Shotgun) D.Prescott pass short left to J.Witten ran ob at PHI 14 for 8 yards.
  • 2-2-PHI 14 (:06) K.Forbath 32 yard field goal is GOOD

The Cowboys had to use a timeout, remember that they had three, after each of their first three plays. That’s horrible management of the situation. You have to be able to get out of bounds to keep those timeouts so that you have more options of what to play with in the middle of the field.

What’s more is that the Cowboys ultimately did manage to get into legitimate striking distance after their third play (the second Gallup reception). With the ball on the Eagles 22-yard line the Cowboys had 11 seconds to do something significant. That’s a lot of time.

Now to be perfectly clear you don’t exactly have a full list of options available to you here. You have to be careful not to bleed the whole clock dry because you ultimately have to come away with some points. Still, with 11 seconds on the clock and only 22 yards separating you from the endzone you have plenty of time to throw it in an area where a touchdown is a possibility. That makes sense to try.

Not to the Cowboys, apparently. Like they’ve been known to do they ultimately played that possession conservative from the jump and were intent on walking away with three instead of even considering the possibility of a touchdown. They checked it down to Jason Witten (who at least got out of bounds) and trotted Kai Forbath out for their field goal. Job done, right?

Look at how the Baltimore Ravens handled a very similar situation earlier in the day on Sunday. They went for the endzone and scored a touchdown. Brilliant.

Aggression is an absent thing when it comes to the Dallas Cowboys offense and their overall team has had to pay steep prices for it many times throughout this season and ones of the past. We tend to see them do some aggressive things every now and then, but when push comes to shove they show their true colors.

These were not good ones.

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