FanPost

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly End to the Season...


The Good:

1. Run Defense: San Francisco came into the game with a strong running attack and a pair of weapons that can be used as Swiss Army Knives in all phases of the game, including the running game in McCaffery and Samuel. And in this aspect of the game, the Dallas defense held strong and actually helped keep the team in the game for the entirety. It declined a bit going into the fourth quarter... but even there, the run defense on the whole was good. Mitchell was their leading rusher, and even he only averaged 3.6 yards per carry. McCaffery and Samuel both had less than that, which is a marked improvement over last season's loss to the Niners in the playoffs.

2. Pass Rush: They couldn't force any picks... but they did manage to pressure Purdy throughout the game, and particularly early on, which also further helped carry the team through the game.

3. Gameplan and Ideas: I'd think that Dallas ultimately did have a good gameplan for the game and designed their plays well... the problem, though, comes more in execution... to be noted in...

4. Maher with Field Goals: Two field goals were good and were half of Dallas's points.

The Bad:

1. Dak's Inconsistency: This wasn't his worst game of the year, and he had some good moments... but on the whole, he was off. 2 INTs to 1 TD, and while one may argue that the second pick was tipped, it needs to be noted it was tipped by WARD to the Linebacker. That was a pass where Dak clearly misread the defense and should have gone somewhere else. His run to convert a fourth down was good... but that also came before the second pick, so it was a case where he did something good and then did something bad. And then when he had the right read in the secondary, such as the deep throw to Gallup... he just placed it far enough off target that Gallup couldn't make the catch.

2. Injuries: The loss of Pollard was critical in this one... Prior to his injury, the offense, while sluggish, was generally moving relatively well and Pollard could provide some nice plays. After he got hurt... everything fell off, as Zeke wasn't fast enough to reach those holes and without any threat in the ground game... Dak's up and down day was a liability.

3. The Running Game: It's never a good day when your best runner is your QB and you're not a team that pulls the QB run a lot. Dak was good when he ran it, and at times Zeke and Pollard had some good carries, but it was still limited and once Pollard got hurt, things disappeared.

4. Maher on Extra Points: The one touchdown we had in the game would have been nice to have the extra point made.

5. Penalties: It wasn't as bad as last season's playoff loss to the Niners... but 7 penalties for 50 yards hurt. They put a sputtering offense that wasn't moving the ball behind the chains and on the drive where the Niners got their touchdown, it also converted two third downs for the Niners.

The Ugly End to the Season:

It's not ugly because we lost. As to a degree, a lot of that was bound to happen. San Francisco was the better team coming into the game and I expected them to win... and even if we had won the game, losing would still be something that would threaten us... Winning in San Francisco would only push that threat to next week, where the team would have to endure all the same pressures and issues that go along with playoff football where one must be perfect to win the Super Bowl. And had we simply been dominated by the Niners through the game, I'm sure there would be a fair amount of acceptance in losing against them. After all, the Niners are probably the best team in the NFC.

What made it ugly... was that our defense played so well... held the Niners to a field goal after Dak's first INT, held after we got the TD that got us our first lead over the Niners in years. They kept us in the game and allowed for the offense to have chances to make plays. And yet for the most part, the offense was not there. Dak's inconsistency played a leading role, but he wasn't entirely alone there. The line struggled... Tyler Smith committed at least two penalties, and the ground game never got going. And even with all that failure on one side of the ball... the defense largely did its job. And THAT is what made this loss ugly.

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