We sit here, one possession shy of an NFC championship appearance, a feeling that is all too familiar to Cowboys fans. They lost to the 49ers 19-12, which marks their lowest scoring figure for a playoff game since the 2009 Divisional Round. Add to that, 19 points is the fewest points the Cowboys have given up in the Divisional Round since 1995, which started their most recent Super Bowl run.
After the game, there was blame placed everywhere by a lot of people. Some people blamed Mike McCarthy for a few questionable second half calls. Some didn’t like Kellen Moore’s play-calling. Others placed blame on the Cowboys having more than double the 49ers penalty figure. However, everyone placed at least some degree of fault on the quarterback, Dak Prescott.
Prescott threw two interceptions, the first time he has done so throughout his playoff career. Off both of those turnovers, points were scored by the 49ers offense, which obviously proved fatal in the end. Although he completed 62% of his passes and was only sacked once, he simply didn’t do enough to lead the Cowboys to victory. Especially with Tony Pollard being injured before half, they needed Prescott to be great and he was anything but.
There are different ways to attack the reason why they lost. Was Dak Prescott good enough? No. However, Michael Gallup has had more 0-yard games than 50-yard games this season, and he padded that stat Sunday night, Ezekiel Elliott led the backfield in touches and averaged 2.6 yards per carry, and other than CeeDee Lamb, no other wide receiver caught more than two balls. Bringing everything into context, there aren’t many quarterbacks in the league that could do what was needed out of Dak Prescott, which begs the all-important follow-up question: did the Cowboys trust him to do a bit too much?
He was expected to elevate an inconsistent offense and the 49ers game proved he isn’t that guy. He isn’t the guy that can do it without more help. The Cowboys thought he was that guy, hence the reason Amari Cooper didn’t play with a star on his helmet this year. Prescott is the type of quarterback that can win and he will be the guy at the helm next year. However, he will need some more help. This playoff loss proved that.
It’s truly a devastating loss for a team that just can’t seem to get over that hump. Jalen Hurts wasn’t born yet the last time the Cowboys were in the NFC Championship. Cowboys fans are demanding that “something must be done” but that might be delusional if management doesn’t recognize the problem.