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10 thoughts on the Cowboys 40-34 overtime loss to the Jaguars

The Cowboys were looking good for a while, then it all came crashing down.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Jacksonville Jaguars Jeremy Reper-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys put us through a roller coaster of a game as they let a big lead get away and came out on the losing side of a 40-34 overtime game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. There were times when we were happy, and there were times when we were sad as there was a lot going on in this one. Here are 10 thoughts on this unjoyful Cowboys defeat at the hands of the Jaguars.

1. Their luck finally ran out

Ever since the 37-point blowout of the Minnesota Vikings, the Cowboys keep finding themselves in close games in the second half. Sometimes they’ve run away with the game as they did with those poor collapsing Colts, and other times they showed up at that last minute to do just enough to pull out the win as they did last week against the Texans. This week, they turned around and pressed their luck one too many times so there is no “a win is a win” cliché to make us feel better.

2. Can’t hold a lead

The Cowboys jumped out to a 14-0 lead to start the game. And when the Jags attempted to get back into it, they went on a run again to take a 27-10 lead midway through the third quarter. The Jags didn’t allow Cowboys fans any time at all to enjoy this lead as they proceeded to score a touchdown on three straight possessions to go ahead 31-27 early in the fourth quarter. The Jaguars completed 8 of 12 of their third downs and had over 500 yards of offense, the most surrendered by the Cowboys this season.

3. Can’t run out the clock

While the defense was quite porous, they don’t deserve all the blame. In fact, after the Cowboys marched down the field late in the fourth quarter to retake the lead 34-31, the defense came through with a key takeaway when Jayron Kearse caused Trevor Lawrence to lose control of the ball. This put the Jags in a tough spot, but they still had all three of their timeouts. The Cowboys' offense couldn’t seal the deal as they started the drive with a negative running play and finished it with a long incompletion that saved the Jags' final timeout. It proved costly too as the Jaguars needed every bit of that clock to get into field goal range to send the game into overtime.

4. We still love you, Noah Brown

It’s a shame that the thing that fans will remember the most about this game will be that costly pick-six that bounced off the hands of veteran wide receiver Noah Brown. Had Brown held on to that pass, the Cowboys would’ve had the ball 1st-and-10 inside of Jaguars territory, and with the leg of Brett Maher, another late-game victory seemed in the cards. Sadly, the ball bounced another way, and while this will be used as some time of evidence to suggest Brown just isn’t quite good enough, let’s not overreact. Brown had six catches for 49 yards and two touchdowns, including that go-ahead TD catch late in the fourth. He also makes key plays as an inline blocker. He’s a good player.

5. We miss you, Anthony Brown

The Cowboys’ veteran cornerback is one of the most scrutinized players on this team. Being lit up for big plays is just part of the job description for many NFL corners, and there’s a huge disparity among Cowboys fans as to whether Brown’s services are good or bad. Now, with second-year Kelvin Joseph getting lit up like a Christmas tree, it’s safe to say we took Brown for granted. We expected the Jaguars to attack the Cowboys’ weaknesses on defense, and that’s clearly the team’s cornerback depth. Unfortunately, that won’t be the last we see of teams looking to exploit this weakness.

6. We miss you, Leighton!

It’s crazy, but just yesterday it dawned on me how good Leighton Vander Esch has been for the Cowboys this season. Entering this game, LVE has been one of the team’s most reliable tacklers, whiffing on only 2.2% of his tackles this season. That’s a nice improvement over last year (missed 9.4%) and a significant improvement over 2020 (16.7%).

But just as we sing Vander Esch’s praise, he gets hurt as he left the Jaguars game with a neck injury. And his absence was immediately felt. In prior games, they have held other running backs in check (Saquon Barkley 3.5 ypc, Jonathan Taylor 3.9 ypc, and Dameon Pierce 3.5 ypc), but that wasn’t the case this time around as Jags rookie Travis Etienne Jr. churned out 103 yards for 5.4 ypc against Dallas.

7. We miss you, pass rush!

Do remember when the Cowboys were good at sacking quarterbacks? The Cowboys have been leading the league in sacks for a large part of the season, but suddenly they are having trouble getting to the quarterback. The defense didn’t sack the Texans at all last week, and they only got to Lawrence once on Sunday. What is going on? While teams are doing a good job getting rid of the ball quickly, the Cowboys' once-fierce pass rush appears to be taking a sabbatical.

8. The Prescott tussle

This was a weird game for Dak Prescott. There were times in the first half when he looked absolutely incredible and then there were times in the second half when he stunk. The stat sheet will show another two-interception game (which he’s now done in four of the last six games), but like several other picks this year, they aren’t all Dak’s fault. But what was equally unsettling was all the scrambling Prescott was doing out of the pocket. The protection wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t fantastic either and whenever Dak sensed things were starting to break down, he took off. This led to a lot of broken plays. The Cowboys used an assortment of offensive linemen as they experimented at tackle, but their quarterback didn’t seem very comfortable on Sunday.

9. Small load of laundry

If there’s a positive in this game, it's that Mike McCarthy and his coaching staff have done a great job cleaning up the penalties. Over their first 11 games, they committed a total of 83 penalties (an average of 7.5 per game) and were second-worst in the NFL. Since then, they’ve committed three against the Colts, three against the Texans, and a season-low two against the Jaguars. That’s something, right?

10. An anti-climatic Christmas Eve matchup

We have been anxiously awaiting this Christmas Eve Saturday afternoon matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles. The game had huge playoff implications as both teams had their sights on the divisional title, which comes with a home playoff game, and possibly the coveted top seed in the conference, which comes with a first-round bye. There was actually a moment where the Cowboys had a big lead and the Eagles were struggling against the Chicago Bears, teasing a potential “all the marbles” game on Saturday! But then things turned quickly as the Eagles took care of business against the Bears and the Cowboys let the game slip away against the Jags. Just like that, this game won’t have the same zing as it’s almost impossible for Dallas to eclipse Philly for the top spot.

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