Overconfidence? Maybe. The Football Gods? Definitely. The vagaries of football? Sure, why not? The list of reasons why the Dallas Cowboys were thoroughly crushed by the Denver Broncos almost seems infinite.
Dallas was the prohibitive favorite going into the game, riding a six-game winning streak and an offense that seemed unstoppable. Deep into the fourth quarter, the Cowboys still had not scored. The wipeout was widespread and thorough. Every aspect of the game belong to the Broncos unless it was a negative, those were definitely the domain of Dallas.
So how did this happen? Well, we could go on all day about that. But here are five reasons that seem to be important.
1. Dak Prescott wasn’t good
Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is a very, very good quarterback. Against Denver, he was a bad, bad quarterback. Twice missing CeeDee Lamb deep or throwing passes low or off-target, Dak just wasn’t Dak. He also didn’t run the ball at times when he could have, maybe thinking about his calf. Even the best quarterbacks have their bad day, Dak certainly had his. It would take a few more of these to be a trend, so we’ll write this up as a one-off until proven otherwise.
2. Run defense
The easiest way to win a game is to be able to run the ball for big chunks of yards. Denver did that. They ended the game with just a bit under 200 rushing yards. If you’re an underdog on the road, your best friend is a low-risk, very-productive running game. The kind that keeps your quarterback from taking too many chances. The kind that physically exhausts, and mentally beats down, a defense. Denver had that. They opened the holes and they broke the tackles.
3. The Football Gods
This is where the Football Gods come into play. Trailing only 16-0 to start the second half, the Cowboys held Denver to a three-and-out. To top that, they blocked the punt. Momentum is turned, the game is now on. Score there, and everything could change.
But through an obscure rule that had everyone confused for a while, including seemingly the refs, the Broncos got a first-down by recovering the blocked punt after it was touched beyond the line of scrimmage. Yea, that actually happened. Almost all Cowboys fans knew it wasn’t going to be their day after that nightmare.
4. Cowboys stars failing
We already discussed that the Cowboys biggest star, Dak Prescott, had a poor game. He wasn’t alone. Amari Cooper dropped the easiest of third-down conversions that he’ll ever see in a crucial spot. CeeDee Lamb had a good gainer erased when he allowed the cornerback to shake the ball loose after it was in his grip. Tony Pollard dropped a wide open pass. Terence Steele looked like the early-season 2020 version of himself. Trevon Diggs had another sub-par game. Across the board, the Cowboys stars were making blunders.
5. Some Broncos had the game of their life
Finally, let’s take a minute to remember that the Broncos played an excellent football game. Their defense was shutdown, holding the Cowboys to zero points until late in the game. Teddy Bridgewater had impeccable touch and ball placement all game long. There were three of four plays where Dallas almost tipped his pass, but Bridgewater just placed it beyond their reach. Wide receiver Tim Patrick made a handful of clutch catches plus a long touchdown. Javonte Williams was a beast running the ball. The three replacement offensive linemen for Denver manhandled the Cowboys front seven most of the game.
Sometimes players, and teams, just have days when everything goes right. The Broncos had that kind of day and the Cowboys paid the price for their own lackluster effort.
That’s how you get humiliated by another team.