The Dallas Cowboys essentially begged for it. America’s Team has been pleading for an opportunity to show that they can hang with the big and bad San Francisco 49ers ever since getting bounced by them in the Divisional Round of last season’s playoffs. Never mind the fact that the Niners bounced Dallas in the Wild Card Round the year prior.
The Cowboys have walked and talked ever since falling short of the NFC Championship Game in their latest endeavor about how next time would be different. Sunday night saw next time turn into this time with a chance staring across from them at Levi’s Stadium. A victory in Santa Clara on October 8th would by no means have righted the wrongs of the past, but it would at least put wind in the sails of this season that this season maybe, finally, could or would be the season.
Beyond the just general truth of all this the Cowboys added fuel to the fire by talking about the 49ers, outright announcing that San Francisco lives in their minds rent free, in the lead up to the matchup.
To be fair here, it is not uncommon for a team to use revenge (if you want to call it that) as motivation for an upcoming game. Sports are filled with teams and players generating whatever they can to give themselves an edge. Dallas clearly thought that by painting a target on their rivals of the past and owners of the present that it might offer some semblance of help.
Getting to the point here, the Cowboys wanted the opportunity that came on Sunday night. They didn’t just poke the bear as much as that they walked up to it and shouted for a fight.
The bear then did what the bear does.
It is disheartening, disappointing and flat out embarrassing that the Cowboys not only did not show up against the 49ers but that they were outclassed by them
The Dallas Cowboys did not just lose on Sunday. They got blown out 42-10.
On the surface, being generous here, losing that badly to perhaps the best team in the NFL isn’t that embarrassing. I mean, if you regard yourself as a contender then it is, but the best are the best for a reason. A silver medal is disappointing but it is not L-shaped.
What makes Sunday night so frustrating is once again that the Cowboys tried to build themselves to be ready for it specifically. After the Wild Card loss two years ago, when San Fran ran all over them, the Cowboys pledged to get tougher. Lather, rinse and repeat after last season’s Divisional loss.
A Sinatra-style start to the season (New York, New York) lulled the Cowboys into thinking that their mission was accomplished. Consider what wide receiver CeeDee Lamb said before the Week 3 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals, a game that the Cowboys wound up losing mind you.
Again, you can’t fault the Cowboys for looking forward to their game against the Niners. Relishing an opportunity to prove yourself is fine and logical and fair. But then you can’t no-show for the opportunity in question.
That’s really why we are so mad and frustrated, isn’t it? If the Cowboys had competed against the 49ers and wound up losing we would have been bothered, but that’s football. You can’t win them all but you should certainly be able to avoid a trouncing if you’re contender material.
While we visited Lamb’s comments from several weeks ago, consider what the Cowboys said once 49ers week had officially arrived.
A playoff game early in October? That’s what Johnathan Hankins thinks Sunday’s matchup vs. the 49ers will be like. pic.twitter.com/tHvKRlA6mx— Todd Archer (@toddarcher) October 2, 2023
At least Johnathan Hankins he did his part individually, so he backed up his own words. Trouble is that his friends did not join him in that effort which is why we are all so surly.
Narratives get old and the low-hanging fruit that the national media plucks becomes tired, but until you give people a reason that things are different then you have nowhere else to look and/or blame. The Cowboys had fate in their hands on Sunday night and threw it straight into the trash.
On the subject of throws, the ones coming from quarterback Dak Prescott will of course take center stage for the week given the volatility associated with the post that he holds. It is never all of his fault or all of his credit, but along the lines of what we are talking about here you cannot tell us that you are pissed off and then have such a poor showing on the offensive side of the ball.
A reporter asked Cowboys QB Dak Prescott what the feeling was last season after playoff loss to 49ers. Prescott took long pause. “It’s obvious. …You just want to piss me off going into this week, and I appreciate that. I do actually. I do. I appreciate that. I appreciate that.” pic.twitter.com/UbEvMP9BT5— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) October 2, 2023
As of Monday morning the 49ers defense ranks 7th in DVOA which is why the offensive struggles are so disheartening. All due respect to the owners of the Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco is not the defensive juggernaut that they have been for the last few seasons. They can be had. Other teams have had them this season (relatively speaking, and again talking only with regards to the San Francisco defense).
But that did not matter in Santa Clara. Consider the Cowboys offensive possessions in the first half.
- Punt (3 and out)
- Punt (3 and out)
- Tony Pollard fumble (on the first play)
- Punt (3 and out)
- Touchdown (woooo!)
- Punt (3 and out)
- End of half (2 plays, the second of which was an awful sack that Dak Prescott took)
You mean to tell us that (generalizing across the whole team here) you were hellbent on separation coming in this week against a team that you were desperate to prove yourselves against all while being pissed off in the process and that you were only able to do something effective one time in the first half with the football in your possession? That is completely and totally unacceptable.
I’ve rambled on for over a thousand words at this point and know that there is meat all over the bone (a phrase that harkens to a simpler time in Dallas Cowboys frustration) that we will process in the coming days/weeks/whatevers.
Sunday was the opportunity that the Cowboys wanted and showed up to training camp in the name of capitalizing on. They didn’t just lose, they embarrassed themselves.
It is going to be a long week.