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After further review: The Cowboys defense doesn’t hold and Dak Prescott can’t play the hero

Re-watching the Cowboys loss provides insight into defensive struggles, and Dak Prescott falling short.

Dallas Cowboys v Green Bay Packers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

It doesn’t seem to matter just how under the weather the Green Bay Packers are, the Dallas Cowboys are just what the doctor ordered. After losing five straight, it looked as if the Packers were just waiting for someone to put them out of their misery, but apparently, that is not the case. Green Bay showed up in a big way and gave the Cowboys a little dose of reality.

The Cowboys made plenty of good plays, but they come up just a short as it was the Pack who got it done when it counted. The Cowboys' defense couldn’t hold a 14-point fourth-quarter lead and the offense couldn’t put the game away when the opportunity was there. So, what went wrong? Today, we’ll highlight a few key happenings from Sunday’s action as we figure out what we can learn after further review.

A bad run out

The Cowboys have a great defense, but we are starting to see more and more vulnerabilities in defending the run. The team hasn’t had any answers for their last two opponents as they have surrendered back-to-back 200-yard games. And with a formidable list of talented running backs coming down the pike, this situation is less than ideal.

Why are they so bad at this?

The Cowboys' defenders were getting washed out of plays and the Packers did a great job getting extra blockers out in front. The defense isn’t shedding and they aren’t getting in position quick enough to square up on the runner. It’s a congested mess turning into a game of chase that results in sizable gains for the offense.

The Packers did most of their damage along the edge through the C-gap and they just got their blockers to their spots quicker and sealed off the outside. This gave Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillion a full head of steam before they were even touched and the next thing you knew, it was a seven-yard gain. The Packers thrived in this game from constantly being in favorable down and distances and that was because of the Cowboys' inability to contain the edge.

The Cowboys knew ahead of time that extra run defenders were needed as the Packers had to establish a running game, so that meant some extra duty at off-ball linebacker for Micah Parsons. Green Bay was ready and did a great job taking away the Cowboys' best defensive weapon. They did a good job of slowing him down by attacking his outside and impeding his progress just enough to make him a tad late in arriving. The Packers were very attentive to his whereabouts and did a great job making him process the play and just getting in his way. It was quite annoying.

Not fast enough

The Cowboys' trio of cornerbacks - Trevon Diggs, Anthony Brown, and Jourdan Lewis had done a great job limiting big passing plays. But with Lewis out and Brown exiting the game early, the team had to rely on their depth as both DaRon Bland and Kelvin Joseph received a lot of playing time.

The defense surrendered a career day for Packers rookie receiver Christian Watson as he was repeatedly blowing by them. His day could’ve been even bigger had he not dropped a couple of passes early. The Cowboys were smart to put their fastest corners on Watson, but it didn’t matter as he was quicker out of the gate, and by the time they figured out what was going on, it was too late. Speed kills and it killed the Cowboys' defense on Sunday.

Not so Daccurate

The Cowboys’ offense scored 28 points, so it would be disingenuous to suggest they didn’t do enough to win the football game. That said, they didn’t do enough to win the football game. The offense had some golden opportunities to score more points that didn’t work out for one reason or another. We’re not going to harp on Dak Prescott for the two Rudy Ford interceptions as there were some route-running mishaps occurring on those plays. This has been talked about a lot already, but listen to what Greg Olsen has to say if you’re still unsure who to blame.

It’s still worth mentioning that Prescott was off-target quite a bit in this game. He was missing his receivers high and forcing some throws into coverage. He was also panicking in the pocket and throwing balls into the dirt (even got called for intentional grounding). Dak seemed hesitant at times and when he delays just for a second, he gets antsy with his feet and then his ball placement suffers. He only completed 58% of his passes, which was the second time this season (Tampa Bay, 48%) he’s completed less than 60% of his passes. In both of those games the Cowboys lost. In comparison, he only had two games all of last year (the Denver “blueprint” game and the Washington game where he almost gave it away) where he completed less than 60% of his passes.

Prescott certainly wasn’t the reason the Cowboys lost this game, but he also didn’t elevate the team when it mattered. That is something that great quarterbacks do and will be essential if this team expects to have postseason success.

Blindside, my backside!

There are always going to be flags thrown that don’t work out in your favor and it was no different on Sunday. The most egregious was the missed pass interference call when CeeDee Lamb had Jaire Alexander draped all over him on a crucial third-down play in overtime.

Another penalty that was confusing was the personal foul “blindside block” against Kelvin Joseph. What was the official looking at when they threw this flag?

They call him Flipper!

It was a weird game for KaVontae Turpin. He started things off with a nice 40-yard return, and then he ended things with a weird touchback that was slow to be awarded by the ref. Turpin is a dangerous return who can flip the field in a heartbeat and he’s always so close to taking one to the house. There’s always one defender that just gets enough of him to cause him to lose his footing. One of these days he’s going to spin away and hit the open waters!

Can’t silence the Lamb

Let’s end on a positive. Despite the confusion on the two Dak picks, CeeDee Lamb had a monster game. He had his first 100-yard receiving game of the year that just so happened to come on a career-high night of 150 yards. It was also the first time he hit the double-digit catch mark (he finished with 11) in his career as Prescott was targeting him like a true no. 1 receiver. Was this just Dak taking what the defense gave him or is he making more of a conscious effort to look his way? Whether it was soft coverage or great separation, Lamb looked wide open quite a bit. Let’s hope there is more of this to come as the season progresses.

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