Game balls are sure more fun to give out when the team wins. You might have noticed, the Cowboys didn’t win. In fact, Dallas got clobbered by the Denver Broncos 30-16, with only a couple of truly garbage-time touchdowns making the final optics look a slight bit better. It was a thorough beating, the kind that will bring a team that was flying in rarefied air right back to the ground. It’s a reality-check.
The Cowboys coaches will be challenged this week. They will be tasked with not letting the negative waves multiply. They must do whatever they can to make sure this game is remembered as a strange blip, an anomaly, in an otherwise sublime season. Mike McCarthy and Co. are on notice this week. They need to have the team ready and they need to come out strong next week to keep any doubt from creeping in.
The same goes for Dak Prescott, usually always in the running for the game ball award each week. This week, not so much. Prescott had one of his worse games as a Cowboy with only the final garbage time snaps keeping his stat line from a total disaster. Sure, his receivers let him down on occasion, and his pass blocking wasn’t the best, but Prescott simply has to play better than that effort.
So, who wins the game ball of the week? If you’re looking for one guy who made a difference for the team during the game, it would have to be Micah Parsons. The Cowboys rookie linebacker had 2.5 sacks in the game, giving the offense a chance to get the team back in the game. Unfortunately they went to waste. There was no offensive awakening on the horizon. But Parsons once again showed that the Cowboys have a star in the making. He had 10 total tackles during the game and was a bright spot on a dismal day.
For a runner up, let’s single out Malik Turner. Turner set in motion one of the craziest plays of the day. He was the Cowboys player that blocked the punt that end up being a Broncos first down when Nahson Wright touched the ball past the line of scrimmage and was recovered by a Broncos player. Regardless of that insane rule, the punt block goes in Turner’s column. Then, when he got his chance in garbage time, he took advantage by catching two Dak Prescott throws for touchdowns. Overall he caught five passes for 33 yards on seven targets.
Outside of that, there wasn’t a whole lot of good. Leighton Vander Esch had 12 tackles, a big number like Parsons, but the entire front seven was guilty of allowing the Broncos to run wild. Carlos Watkins had a sack and three tackles for loss. Ezekiel Elliott had a 5.1 yards per carry average and fought through injury.
It was a bad loss, but just one loss. All the Cowboys’ goals are still ahead of them. Just don’t let this week bleed into next week.