The Dallas Cowboys lose games. Every team does. Some losses sting a little more than others. When the Cowboys got crushed 27-7 by the Atlanta Falcons in 2017, it left a mark. Little did we know at the time that the game was just the first of what would be three-straight 20+ blowout defeats, severely hindering their playoff hopes (spoiler alert: they didn’t make the playoffs that year).
That game brings back a lot of bad memories, so what better way to relive them than to bring to your attention some odd similarities entering this week’s game against Atlanta. Check out these strange coincidences.
Tyron Smith is ailing
The Cowboys veteran left tackle is an absolute beast when healthy. That was the case then, and that’s the case now. Unfortunately, Smith is having a buster of a time staying on the field. This year marks the sixth-straight season he’s missed games due to injury as he’s already missed action in each of the last two games. His status for Sunday is unknown.
The backup left tackle position is a problem
The last time they faced Atlanta, the Cowboys had no answer for edge rusher Adrian Clayborne as he sacked Dak Prescott six times. Prescott was sacked eight times in total thanks to dreadful play from backup tackles Chaz Green and Byron Bell. This year, the Cowboys have much better depth at tackle; however, they haven’t gotten the backup left tackle spot shored up quite yet. First, it was Ty Nsekhe who was replaced Smith when he exited the New England game. But now they’ve moved Terence Steele from RT to LT after La’el Collins took back his old starting spot. Steele struggled last week against Denver, but it looks as if the coaching staff expects better results for him on Sunday as he appears to be in line to start again on the left side.
Dak is out of sorts
When Prescott faced Atlanta in 2017, the young quarterback was extremely skittish. Of course, being knocked to the turf repeatedly will do that to you. Prescott had an awful game, throwing for just 176 yards and never finding the endzone. Dak is currently coming off one of the worst games of his career and didn’t look like his normal self on Sunday. But rather than having the sound of footsteps throw off his game, Prescott’s recent struggle stems from “rust.” Dak was coming off a calf injury and his psyche could be a little askew as he learns to regain trust from his body.
Having to resort to your backup kicker doesn’t happen very often, but when they faced Atlanta in 2017, that’s exactly what the Cowboys had to do. With Dan Bailey injured, the Cowboys signed kicker Mike Nugent off the street. With the news that Greg Zuerlein will miss the game in COVID protocol, the Cowboys will again need to sign a temporary fill-in.
Atlanta had a 4-4 record
The Falcons currently sit at .500 with a 4-4 record. That just so happened to be their exact record when they squared off against Dallas in 2017. The bad news is that the Falcons are winners of three of their last four whereas last time they had lost four of their last five. The Falcons, once thought to be a hot mess, are riding hot now.
AFC West opponents
Like 2017, the Cowboys' non-conference divisional opponents come from the AFC West. And it just so happened that one of those games consisted of a blowout loss to the Denver Broncos where they got steamrolled in the running game. Sound familiar? The Cowboys split their interconference series 2-2 that year and currently are split 1-1 with Kansas City and Las Vegas still on the docket.
The second game of November, 9th game of the year
The Cowboys just so happen to be playing the Falcons in the middle of the season just like in 2017.
Of course, it has to be said that things were different back in 2017 for Dallas. This is clearly a different Cowboys football team. While the defense struggled last week, there’s a good chance they’ll right the ship. Dan Quinn said on Monday that they “lost the game, but they’re certainly not lost.” Look for Quinn to regroup and come after his former team. And speaking of re-group, Prescott has put a lot of good games on tape this year, so it would be a very strange thing for him to continue to struggle. The Cowboys' offense will have a bounceback game. The chances of us experiencing déjà vu on Sunday seem very unlikely.