The Cowboys just lost for the first time since the return of Dak Prescott. Losing a 28-14 fourth-quarter lead to 17 unanswered points is something that good teams tend to shy away from. Aaron Rodgers continues to have the Cowboys number and it’s hard not to become worried about this team and their glaring similarities to the smoke-and-mirrors Cowboys of last year.
The Packers gave the Cowboys plenty of opportunity to run away with this one, whether it was a missed field goal or fumbles on a punt return and a sack. Last year the Cowboys needed these type of mistakes to win games, but this year’s team was supposed to be different. They were supposed to be able to win even without all the turnovers they saw in 2021. Instead, they gave the game away. They took advantage of the punt return fumble for points, but in general they just didn’t resemble the team from earlier parts of this season. They are going to need to execute in all stages of football and fully take advantage of mistakes while limiting their own.
Part of limiting their own mistakes is the penalties. They were called for five 15-yard penalties, That level of avoidable penalties is inexcusable. They also had multiple penalties in other areas, including a crushing holding call in overtime on a Tony Pollard draw play. They even had an offensive offsides which is just as bad as it gets. Their undisciplined play was not able to be overcome by what is usually an elite defense. The defense let up big, chunk plays, something they have yet to do consistently all year.
The decision-making of Dak Prescott was also a problem. He made a few ill-advised throws that led to interceptions, although the receivers were botching their patterns in more undisciplined play. He also had a redzone run where he lost about three yards instead of just throwing it away and saving the yards. In conjunction with that, he made a really bad decision that led to an intentional grounding call.
It’s hard to be optimistic about this team after this game, and the big fear would be a repeat of last season. The same problems that plagued them last year and ultimately led to an ugly demise were present in this game. Penalties, play-calling, and overall execution.
Next week’s game doesn’t get any easier. They travel to Minnesota to play the team that just went toe-to-toe with the Buffalo Bills, beating them at the Bills’ stadium. Confidence has to be low for the Cowboys. They need a re-set to avoid the same fate as 2021.