Sunday night was an opportunity for the Dallas Cowboys.
As an undefeated team playing on primetime, they had every chance to show the world that they were truly a team to be reckoned with this season and that their 3-0 record was more about who they were than anything else. Dallas may still be one of the league’s best squads this season, but they certainly weren’t in New Orleans.
The Saints beat the Cowboys without scoring a single touchdown (think about that) which tells you just about everything you need to know in terms of how bad the offense played. With that being the case, there weren’t a whole lot of winners to be found but we managed to grind out three.
The rest of the list? All losers. It was that kind of game.
Winner: Robert Quinn
The Dallas Cowboys traded a sixth-round draft pick for Robert Quinn. That was a very good deal for them upon further review.
Quinn is off to a fantastic start during his career with the Cowboys. Unfortunately, his great performance on Sunday night wasn’t enough to carry the team to victory.
Winner: Leighton Vander Esch
There seemed to be a few moments where LVE looked dinged up, but he powered through the game to completion. What’s more is that Vander Esch also had some great moments where he took on Saints running back Alvin Kamara one-on-one and won them.
People had been questioning the Cowboys linebacking corps this season but we saw the lateral quickness from Vander Esch that made his rookie season so special. He had a great performance overall, but near the end the defense looked rough.
Winner: Jaylon Smith
Similar to his linebacker mate, Jaylon Smith had a bit of a coming out party in New Orleans. He even made what could have been the game’s most signature defensive play.
It’s actually unbelievable that Smith was able to get a sack here and throughout the game he played quite well. If only it had been during a win.
Loser: Kellen Moore
What was that? Seriously, what happened to Kellen Moore?
It honestly felt like the Cowboys got in a room, sat down, opened their snacks, and had a long discussion on all of the great things that they did over the season’s first three weeks before ultimately deciding to do the exact opposite against New Orleans. What was with that regression?
Kellen Moore has received a lot of praise around here for how he’s commanded the Cowboys offense up to now. He got insanely conservative and predictable for no apparent reason against the Saints and that’s perhaps the most individually troubling thing.
Loser: Jason Witten
The future Pro Football Hall of Famer had a fumble early on in the game. Dallas was driving offensively when the ball popped loose from Witten’s grasp and was pounced on by the Saints.
It’s not like Witten’s career is littered with tons of fumbles, but man was this one costly. Him turning the ball over inhibited the team’s ability to get points in the first half and really stalled the little success that they were experiencing on offense up to that point.
Loser: Randall Cobb
He may not have had a fumble, but Randall Cobb did have his worst game as a member of the Cowboys. During the team’s second offensive possession he had a ball thrown just a bit past him that could have been a touchdown, and while it looked like he could have caught it ,the more egregious error came much later in the game.
When the Cowboys were driving in the second half they were facing a third and two... and Cobb couldn’t make a big catch.
This play, honestly, felt like the game to me when it happened.— Bobby Belt (@BobbyBeltTX) September 30, 2019
Dak was 14 of his last 15 for 138 yards at this point. This was a big 3rd down opportunity near midfield after New Orleans just drained 9+ minutes off the clock.
Game may have been different if they connect here. pic.twitter.com/LWXbUhZUkU
These are missed opportunities.
Loser: Travis Frederick
Travis Frederick has generally been very good in his return to the Cowboys, but he wasn’t exactly that on Sunday night in New Orleans.
In Frederick’s defense he was tasked with handling Sheldon Rankins (who was making his debut on the season) and things didn’t exactly go well. Overall the Saints defensive line generated pressure all throughout the contest with a lot of it coming up the middle.
Loser: Chidobe Awuzie
It is strange to call someone that had a turnover a loser, but while Auzie did have an interception he also got beat a lot by Michael Thomas.
To be clear, a lot of people get beat by Michael Thomas, Chido isn’t alone in that regard; however, it was clear throughout the game that he was outmatched in that particular contest.
Awuzie isn’t exactly a liability on defense, but he’s clearly the weaker side of the team’s defense. Hopefully he takes a step soon.
Loser: Ezekiel Elliott
A lot of this was how he was used, but Zeke is the front man for it all so the blame falls on his shoulders. He was running into walls all game.
This was a bad game for people that believe the run game is what sets the tempo and how the Cowboys thrive. They never got going on the ground but never got going through the air either. It’s unfortunate to see that they couldn’t have success where they have for so long over the last few years.
Loser: NFL officials
The Dallas Cowboys lost and deserve all of the blame for losing. Nobody is blaming the loss on anything other than their not-good-enough performance, but all of that being said we have to acknowledge just how bad the officiating was in this game.
There were two offensive pass interference calls against Amari Cooper that seemed questionable at best. Ezekiel Elliott’s “fumble” was one of the weirder reviews you’ll ever see and the unnecessary roughness penalty that came as a result of the hit on Dak Prescott was not called the same when Teddy Bridgewater took it later in the game (although the call benefited the Cowboys, you get the point though).
Officiating is really bad across the entire league right now. Referees are clearly spooked by everything that’s happened to this point and are now seemingly nervous to blow their whistle at any point. Think about when Dak Prescott threw what was clearly a forward pass and they so nonchalantly let the play go for fear of blowing the play dead and being criticized.
It’s not good, not good at all.