The all-encapsulating question...
It wasn’t quite the Dez Catch, but Sunday’s reception-in-question did factor into the Cowboys’ season-ending 23-19 loss to the Giants at the Meadowlands.
Dante Pettis’ 10-yard catch midway through the fourth quarter put the Giants in position for a field goal to take that four-point lead — and Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy was asked afterward why he didn’t challenge that the pass was incomplete.
“The catch, it was obviously down in our area and the way the receiver turned to me and the information, we just felt it was too close,” McCarthy said. “We just felt it was kind of a bang-bang type situation. The fact of the matter, we were in a tight game and the three timeouts was obviously of high value there. We just didn’t there was enough information to overturn it.”
It did appear that the ball might have hit the ground before Pettis had control, but as McCarthy said, the officials would have needed indisputable evidence to overturn their on-field ruling of a catch.
Nevertheless, the play had a major impact on the rest of the game.
After a compelling December stretch, the Cowboys’ inability to finish vs. Giants slammed the door on their season - David Moore, Dallas Morning News
They just couldn’t close.
Sunday’s 23-19 loss to the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium brought an end to a frustrating and unrewarding season for the franchise. A Dallas team that won three straight to surprisingly insert themselves back into the NFC East race fell behind the Giants early and couldn’t do what head coach Mike McCarthy implored his team to do for weeks.
“It’s heartbreaking,’’ said linebacker Sean Lee, who may have played in his last game for the Cowboys. “It’s tough.
“We fought hard during the stretch here and the guys worked the right way. It’s one of those things where you hoped you can come into this game and get it done.
“We fell a little short, but I am still proud.’’
A three-game winning streak stirred the embers of hope for Dallas heading into Week 17. But now that the prolonged offseason has begun, it should be viewed as nothing more than a tantalizing distraction, one that doesn’t gloss over the flaws that have been exposed.
The Cowboys finished with a 6-10 record. The franchise has had a worse record only once in the last 18 years.
A Wayne Gallman fumble almost turned the tide for the Boys.
After rookie Giants safety Xavier McKinney intercepted an Andy Dalton pass in the end zone to seemingly end the game, all the Giants needed was a first down to ice it. Running back Wayne Gallman picked up the first down but as he kept running he lost the football.
Gallman and practically the entire Cowboys defense jumped on the ball as it bounced around underneath the running back. An official initially ruled that the Giants had recovered the football while another ran in and said the Cowboys had recovered it.
The officials convened and looked over the fumble once again. Replay showed that Gallman had recovered the football while on his back and New York was awarded the ball.
Social media had a field day with the photo of the ball underneath Gallman.
Cowboys’ NFC East failure, Kellen Moore’s extension ensure Dak Prescott will back - Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News
So what exactly went wrong this year?
Dallas’ defense was a major problem for most of the season. The Cowboys also suffered injuries on the offensive line and in the backfield, on top of Dalton needing to miss games early in his replacement stint after landing on the COVID-19 list.
Prescott had started every game after being drafted in the fourth round in 2016 until his unfortunate break not far into his franchise-tagged season. During his absence, there’s no doubt the Cowboys’ heart grew fonder for his high level of play at the most important position.
There’s also no doubt now that the Cowboys need to re-sign Prescott to a lucrative long-term extension. Dalton was one of the better backups in the league but he couldn’t cut it in Kellen Moore’s system until late, which mostly wasted Dallas’ skill position talent. Dalton couldn’t put it all together with wide receivers Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb often enough.
There’s no time to waste in signing Prescott.
Prescott’s lack of playoff success combined with the Cowboys’ potential to advance to the playoffs with backup Dalton had some wondering whether the Cowboys really should invest $40 million per year in their quarterback ... or if there is a more affordable way to find someone to quarterback “America’s Team.’’
Hey, if a backup quarterback making $3 million (Dalton’s base) is leading the Cowboys to the NFL Playoffs, why should the Cowboys offer Prescott, say $200 million? Even the most staunch Dak supporter might have to admit: It’s not a ridiculous question. It’s a thought worth brainstorming, here, and more importantly, inside The Star.
The Jones family - even before this loss - has done that brainstorming. Jerry and Stephen have their answer.
What you should remember from the face-off.
Failed screen in the red zone – The Giants held a 6-0 lead, but later in the first quarter, the Cowboys were on the move thanks to a fumble recovery. On second-and-8 from New York’s 14-yard line, though, the Cowboys appeared to have a screen set up perfectly for Tony Pollard, who had blockers in front of him with a shot to possibly score. But Andy Dalton’s pass was knocked down at the line of scrimmage, setting up a third-and-long. Dalton was then sacked on that play, which led to a field goal.
Dalton sacked before halftime – With 4:21 to play in the first half, the Cowboys had just picked up a first down on third-and-short to the Giants’ 32-yard line. Trailing 13-3, the Cowboys were looking to cut into the lead before the break and get the ball back to start the third quarter. But a first-down sack changed the drive, forcing Dallas to be conservative and stay in field-goal range. A Greg Zuerlein 46-yard field goal cut the lead to 13-6 but left 2:13 on the clock, enough time for the Giants to drive down and score another touchdown. Without that sack, the Cowboys perhaps keep driving for a touchdown or at least could have taken more time off before a closer field goal, which would’ve kept them down by a single score.
How Mike McCarthy mismanaged the Cowboys out of a playoff spot in Week 17 - Joe Rivera, Sporting News
McCarthy’s getting the brunt of the criticism.
Uh … How ‘bout them Cowboys?
The NFC East wasn’t exactly a drag race between hot rods, but four makeshift motor scooters running on diet soda and pain, strapped together with some Band-Aids and duct tape. That race comes to an end on Sunday night.
Unfortunately for Dallas, their scooter and bid for an NFC East crown fell apart in a 23-19 loss to the Giants on Sunday, and there were no watermelons smashed, either. The only thing destroyed were the hopes of a Dallas playoff run with the loss (which required a win and Washington loss). And head coach Mike McCarthy played exactly into that.
It’s hard to pin wins and losses directly on a head coach, but McCarthy had a few clear gaffes on Sunday that played into the final score of Dallas’ L, leading to prominent talking heads to go on the tweet machine and call the Dallas head man a “boob.”
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