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Cowboys news: Dallas hits rock-bottom in lifeless loss to the Cardinals

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NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Kyler Murray, Kliff Kingsbury return home and get blowout of Cowboys - Charean Williams, PFT

It was just an embarrassing game for the Cowboys.

The Cardinals came to AT&T Stadium and acted as if they owned the place, whipping the home team from start to finish. Arizona beat (and beat up) the Cowboys 38-10. They climbed back above .500 at 4-2, good for a second-place tie with the Rams behind the Seahawks.

Murray, who grew up a hop, skip and jump from AT&T Stadium in Allen, threw two touchdowns and ran for another. Kingsbury, who played and coached at Texas Tech, called the plays for an offense that rolled to 438 yards.

DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk also have Texas ties, with Hopkins having played seven seasons in Houston and Kirk having played collegiately at Texas A&M. Kirk caught two passes for 86 yards and two touchdowns, one covering 80 yards, and Hopkins had two catches for 73 yards, including a 60-yarder.

The Cowboys don’t have Jason Garrett to blame anymore. So what now?

Without Dak Prescott, all was lost for Cowboys in MNF loss to Cardinals - Todd Archer, ESPN

No Dak, no dice.

Without Prescott, who still leads the NFL in passing with 1,856 yards despite not playing five full games, everything for the Cowboys suffered.

Dallas quarterback Andy Dalton completed 34 of 54 passes for 266 yards and was intercepted twice, although one easily could have been negated by a pass interference penalty. In the first half, Dalton threw for 82 yards, averaging 1.3 air yards per completion, per ESPN Stats & Information. Prescott averaged nearly 7 air yards per completion.

On his first four pass attempts, Dalton was pressured by a Cardinals’ defense that was without its best pass-rusher in Chandler Jones. With 5:07 left in the first quarter, Pro Bowl right guard Zack Martin suffered a concussion and did not return to the game.

Since the season started, the Cowboys’ offense lost Prescott (ankle), tackles Tyron Smith (neck) and La’el Collins (hip) and tight end Blake Jarwin (knee) for the season. Center Joe Looney is on injured reserve with a knee injury but is expected to return.

A once-feared offensive line that was the envy of the NFL was reduced to starting two undrafted rookies at tackle (Brandon Knight, 2019, Terence Steele, 2020), a rookie center (Tyler Biadasz), a second-year player (Connor McGovern) with two offensive snaps of experience prior to Monday and a third-year guard coming off knee surgery (Connor Williams).

Somehow Prescott kept the Cowboys competitive, but his teammates could not rally for him Monday.

National reaction to Cowboys-Cardinals: ‘Dak Prescott earned more money tonight than he ever did while taking a snap’ - Staff, DMN

You could say that Dak Prescott’s absence was keenly felt.

5 thoughts from Cowboys-Cardinals: Ezekiel Elliott’s fumbles are a concern moving forward - Calvin Watkins. DMN

The Cowboys had so many mistakes it’s hard to focus on one, but the turnovers...

Ezekiel Elliott and his fumbles

Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott fumbled twice in the first half and it led to 14 points by Arizona. It’s unheard of to see Elliott fumble this much. What’s too much? He’s fumbled five times in 2020 and lost a career-high four. The most fumbles he’s lost in a single-season was two in 2019. The fumbles are something that’s concerning moving forward because it’s costing the Cowboys points. Elliott has normally been a sure-handed player but now he’s fumbling and if that continues, he turns into an unreliable player. You could probably say Elliott has what they call what a baseball infielder has, “The Yips.”

Turnover, turnover and more turnovers

You can talk about Elliott’s two fumbles, but add the two interceptions by Andy Dalton and the Cowboys turned the ball over four times Monday night. For the season, the Cowboys have 15 turnovers. In 2019, the Cowboys turned the ball over 18 times. If you’re wondering, the Cowboys had 17 turnovers in 2018.

Dallas Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott takes blame for blowout loss to Arizona Cardinals - Todd Archer, ESPN

Zeke took full blame for the loss, noting his turnovers were the key.

“I don’t think we can use that as an excuse,” Elliott said of not having Prescott, who suffered a season-ending compound fracture and dislocated right ankle in Week 5. “I’m just going to keep saying it over and over — I started the game out with two fumbles, gave the ball away and gave them all the momentum they need to go take off. I want to say I’m sorry and this one is on me. I need to be better.”

“I’m giving the ball away,” Elliott said. “I wasn’t helping my team. I think they did the right thing and gave some of those reps to [Pollard], but I can’t do that. I have to be a guy this team can lean on, especially at times like right now with so many of our starters hurt and not playing. So it’s not acceptable, and I need to figure it out.”

“I just got to have a short memory,” Elliott said. “I’ve got to get that behind me and play some good ball and get on a roll.”

Murray leads Cardinals to 38-10 win over struggling Cowboys - Associated Press

A couple of guys with history in Texas enjoyed their return to the state.

Kyler Murray accounted for three touchdowns in his first game back home as a pro, Ezekiel Elliott set up the first two Arizona TDs with fumbles and the Cardinals beat the Dallas Cowboys 38-10 on Monday night.

The speedy quarterback who won three high school championships and a Big 12 title at the home of the Cowboys improved to 7-0 as a starter at AT&T Stadium, throwing for two scores despite a rough start through the air and rushing for 74 yards and a TD.

It was the “Monday Night Football” debut for Murray and Kliff Kingsbury, who also had a happy first trip to his native Texas as an NFL coach.

Andy Dalton, Cowboys Routed by Cardinals in 1st Game Since Dak Prescott Injury - Scott Polacek, Bleacher Report

It wasn’t just Andy Dalton who had problems on the night. It was just so much bad for the ‘Boys.

The biggest storyline of the game for either side was how the Cowboys would fare without their franchise quarterback.

Fortunately for them, Andy Dalton is not an average backup signal-caller. He was a three-time Pro Bowler who led the Cincinnati Bengals to the playoffs in each of his first five years in the league. He also has one of the best running backs in the NFL in Ezekiel Elliott to force defenders into the box and open up passing lanes for Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup.

So much for that.

In just the first half alone, Gallup dropped a touchdown pass, guard Zack Martin left with an injury—weakening an already banged-up offensive line—and Elliott shockingly lost two fumbles.

Perhaps he was putting too much pressure on himself without Prescott, but Zeke was supposed to be the one who carried the offense without No. 4 on the field. Instead, his early miscues helped set the tone for the entire game.

Halftime did nothing to change the Cowboys’ fortunes as Dalton threw an interception to Dre Kirkpatrick on a play that should have been pass interference on their first possession after intermission before Greg Zuerlein missed a field goal on their second possession.

While Dalton was far from effective, it was hard to fault him fully given Elliott’s fumbles, the no-call on his first pick and Gallup’s dropped touchdown. Still, he did his part to shoulder some of the blame with a late interception to Budda Baker, who was around the football all game.

Cowboys’ Zack Martin knocked out of Week 6 battle against Cardinals with concussion - Patrik Walker, CBSSports

The hits just keep on coming for the Cowboys.

This is the last thing the Dallas Cowboys can afford right now. Having already lost starting tackles La’El Collins and Tyron Smith for the season — due to hip and neck surgery, respectively — there is now concern for perennial All-Pro right guard Zack Martin. Collins hasn’t played a snap all season and Smith was lost for the year ahead of Week 5, leaving Martin as the only All-Pro remaining on the once vaunted Dallas offensive line. He’d get a swift evaluation on a shoulder stinger midway through the first quarter against the Arizona Cardinals, but returned to the field without missing a snap.

Shortly thereafter, he went down on a run play and stayed down, finally leaving the field under his own power but with the assistance of the Cowboys medical staff. He was initially listed as questionable to return but missed the remainder of the first half, and has now been ruled out by the team to begin the third quarter.

It’s unclear if Martin is also being additionally evaluated for the same shoulder stinger along with the fact he took a blow to the head, but this is certainly something to keep an eye on going forward.

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