The Dallas Cowboys told us this was a big game. To be clear, I do not really even fault them for that. You may have forgotten by now, but prior to the road trip to see the Arizona Cardinals in Week 3 wide receiver CeeDee Lamb said that the Cowboys could not be measured by their (at the time) 2-0 record, and that Week 5 would present a proper opportunity to discuss who they really were/are.
It is of course not a coincidence that a rematch against the San Francisco 49ers loomed in Week 5.
The term “rematch” implies that it is the redoing of something, an event happening between two entities that has happened before. What happened between Dallas and San Francisco on Sunday night did happen before, but not in the conventional way that the term rematch suggests. What had happened before was a one-way ownership, no rivalry involved, where the 49ers rolled all over the Cowboys.
Nine months removed from the Divisional Round playoff loss the circumstances remain the same. Sunday night was a replay as opposed to a rematch of San Francisco doing whatever they wanted and Dallas failing to show up for the challenge that they themselves offered up as being upon them.
It should come as no surprise that we have a lot of stock downs to hand out. It was ugly.
Stock Down: Mike McCarthy
This will be a theme throughout our conversation here so let’s get it out of the way now. It is often unfair to overreact to one game, but as mentioned above, this was not just one game. This was a game that the Cowboys themselves said was not just one game.
That being said, Mike McCarthy took over offensive play-calling in an effort to put his personal fingerprints on things. He took over to help lead the resistance and help the team realize potential that was left untapped in the past.
Sunday night was an embarrassment for the Cowboys in every way. They were out-prepared, out-played, out-coached and at the end they were run out of the building. The fingerprints here only point to a suspect and not a savior. Whatever benefit of the doubt that Dallas had got burned up in San Francisco.
Stock Down: Dak Prescott
Even without overreacting to the interceptions, especially one off of a tipped ball, it was a horrible showing from QB1. Heavy is the head that wears the crown and Dak Prescott, fair or not, has to rise to these kind of occasions. The great Bob Sturm often refers to quarterbacks as needing to be thermostats as opposed to thermometers, and in these sort of situations you have to have a thermostat.
Dallas did not have one on Sunday night and saw an offensive outing in the first half that put them all the way behind the eight ball. There are of course many reasons for this, but the play of the quarterback is one of the most important things you can have in an NFL game and Dak in no way lived up to the challenge.
Stock Down: Jayron Kearse
A lot went wrong against the 49ers and so I do not mean to pick on tiny little things, but why are you taunting at any point in this game? As noted the Niners objectively (especially now) own the Cowboys.
Things like that are not supposed to happen in general let alone on a team with aspirations of hanging with the elites of the league. You cannot cost your team, even if the penalty is declined like it was with Kearse.
Stock Down: Tony Pollard
The fumble was a momentum-buster, even if it miraculously included the ball not being touched by anybody lying out of bounds. Simply put Pollard was not enough and at one point it felt like the fan base preferred seeing Rico Dowdle in the game. Pollard is an electrifying player but Sunday night was not his best outing.
Stock Down: CeeDee Lamb
We mentioned up top that multiple people hold responsibility for the loss. CeeDee Lamb did not have any glaring mistake, but he hardly did anything to help his quarterback out.
This 49ers defense is not (despite Sunday night) what it has been over the last few years. Lamb, a tried and true WR1, needed to have a night of ownership where he separated himself as a weapon and point of friendliness for his quarterback. Again, Dak Prescott played poorly, but CeeDee did him no real favors.
Stock Down: Terence Steele
This season has not been his best effort so far overall, and to be fair Sunday night was a taller task than normal. Again, going up against Nick Bosa is difficult, but the expectation was for Dallas to handle themselves and they did not.
Stock Down: Micah Parsons
Truth be told this is probably the biggest reach, but Parsons is the best player on the team and the straw that absolutely stirs the drink. Because of who he is and what he has shown to this point in his career, the expectations are different for him. He has proven to be a player that can elevate things by his presence, and while Sunday required a Herculean effort in that capacity, if anyone has the ability to deliver that it is him.
It sounds silly to blame Parsons for not completely carrying the Cowboys, but he has specifically said he wants to play on stages like this.
Stock Up: KaVontae Turpin
The touchdown was a thing of beauty. Hopefully he is alright.
Stock Up: Johnathan Hankins
If there was one defender who made a difference on the defensive side of the ball, it was Johnathan Hankins. At least we have that.