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Cowboys lose to Dolphins on last-second field goal, 22-20

The Dallas Cowboys lost another big game on the road

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Miami Dolphins
Tyron Smith was missed as Dak Prescott faced constant pressure.
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The road curse got the Dallas Cowboys again as they fell to the Miami Dolphins 22-20. It was not a game where Dallas got blown out like they did last week, but instead was frustratingly close. Had they not blown their first scoring opportunity of the game, it could have gone much differently.

The Cowboys won the toss and elected to receive to get the offense going early. As the announcers noted later, Dallas is 6-0 when they score on their opening drive, and they clearly were looking to do that. An eight-yard completion to CeeDee Lamb from Dak Prescott would get them off to a solid start, and Tony Pollard would get the initial first down of the game for them. They would also use Lamb as a running back, and he got nine yards right up the middle, and Hunter Luepke would make a rare appearance to get another set of downs as the offensive line, minus Tyron Smith, seemed to be holding up well early.

But the all too familiar flags would fly as Peyton Hendershot would false start. Lamb would get thirteen on the next play to neutralize that mistake, and Luepke seemed to suddenly have a new role as the short-yardage specialist to convert again. He also would be on the receiving end of an eight-yard outlet pass. A couple of plays later, though, Prescott would come up short on a scramble, leaving them with a fourth and long one. They took a timeout to discuss going for it. The decision was to find Jake Ferguson, who would get nineteen yards and put them in the red zone. Brandin Cooks would also do a cameo as a runner to get them neat the one, Tony Pollard would give them a first and goal inside the one, but then Luepke would fail to secure the handoff and the Dolphins would pounce on the fumble to end the threat.

The Dolphins would start from their own two. Mike McDaniel was not afraid to go deep, but Tyreek Hill could not quite haul in a shot from Tua Tagovailoa. They would then get hit with a delay penalty, but Tagovailoa would go deep again and find Jaylen Waddle down the right sideline for 49 yards. That got them into Cowboys territory, but after one more first down, the Dallas defense would stiffen and force a 57-yard Jason Sanders field goal to make the score 3-0.

Prescott would again open with a pass to Lamb, this time for 22 yards. A five-yard Pollard run would have the Cowboys on the Miami side of the 50. Then Lamb would catch a pass across the middle and go all the way to paydirt to cap the three-play touchdown drive and give Dallas a 7-3 lead with a minute and a half left in the first quarter. The Cowboys had 154 yards already and were averaging a hefty 15 yards a passing play. And they had a lead in a road game.

The Dolphins would move the ball well on their next drive, with former Cowboy Cedrick Wilson one of the contributors. They would get a first and goal at the three, but Raheem Mostert would get injured while being tackled for a loss at the five. Tagovailoa would have to throw the third down pass away under pressure. McDaniel would elect to go for it, and again the defense would deny the completion and give the ball back to their offense at the six with a hard rain now complicating things.

A holding call on Tyler Smith would make it second and thirteen, and it looked like they would have to punt from their own end zone, but a roughing the passer flag on Christian Wilkins would give them new life. The replay appeared to make this a gift from the refs. It wouldn’t make much difference as they were unable to get another first down as the pass rush was harassing Prescott, including a two-yard sack, and they still had to punt, but with more room for Bryan Anger to work.

The Dolphins would start on their own 35, but again would stall and have to settle for another long field goal from 52, leaving Dallas with a 7-6 lead and 4:31 left in the first half to try and add to it.

They got off to another bad start with a false start on Ferguson. Another sack would quickly end the drive as the Cowboys’ offense, which had marched down the field on consecutive drives to start the game, was now sputtering. That gave Miami the ball back at their own 29 with 2:23 to use. They would move efficiently into the red zone, and would finally get into the end zone after a roughing the passer call against Micah Parsons that Dean Blandino didn’t agree with. Tagavailoa would find Mostert, back from his earlier injury, to make the score 13-7 going into halftime, and Dallas was trailing on the road again.

The Dolphins received the second half kickoff with an opportunity to add to their lead. Dan Quinn was using Parsons off ball at times to try and slow down the Miami running game. After yielding one first down, they did so and would force an errant throw on third and nine to get the first punt by the Dolphins. But that would be downed at the two-yard line, and they could not get out of the shadow of the goalposts, forcing Anger to punt from his own end zone. He would boom one all the way to the Miami 40. They would allow another first down, but would get a stop on third and one. The Dolphins would still get a 54-yard field goal from Sanders, and now it was a two score deficit for the Cowboys.

Two plays into their next drive, Prescott would go deep to Jalen Tolbert for a 47-yard catch where Tolbert wrestled the ball away from the defender. But another penalty, an illegal shift, would help stall things. Dallas of course has its own very good field goal kicker, and the 43-yard attempt was easy for Brandon Aubrey to bring it back to a six point game.

With Hill starting to make his presence known, Miami would soon be knocking on the door again. The defense would be stiff again in the red zone, and Sanders would get a relative chip shot to make the score 19-10 with a bit less than a minute and a half left in the third.

Prescott would find Ferguson for a couple of first downs then get another with his legs to get quickly to the Dolphins’ 32. The yellow laundry would hurt Miami this time as the Cowboys would get a first down on a defensive holding call. But they would stall in the red zone as the lack of Tyron Smith continued to hurt, and they had to settle for another Aubrey three-pointer.

A false start followed by the first Cowboys sack of the day by Parsons and Dorance Armstrong got the ball back for the offense at their own 31 with Dallas needing to find a way to get into the end zone. After not catching a pass since the first quarter, Lamb would get them a first down and go over 100 yards as Prescott would find him despite being under heavy pressure. But Prescott would throw low to Lamb on third and two, forcing them to go for it on fourth down. This time, the two would connect to keep the drive alive. Then Prescott would somehow find Michael Gallup despite defenders being all over him to get into the red zone, and Pollard would get them a first and goal at the seven.

A clear DPI would be missed on Lamb, and an incompletion on third and goal would leave them going for it from just inside the five. The ball would fall to the ground in the end zone, but KaVontae Turpin was screaming for a flag, and he got it, with two players being called as Gallup was also grabbed. That set up goal to go from the half-yard line, but Bradley Chubb would again get to Prescott and it would be second and goal from the eight. Lamb would be just out of bounds on the next pass. This time, Prescott would find Brandin Cooks who made a great catch on a perfectly thrown ball and Dallas once again led by one.

The issue was that there was 3:27 left. Quinn’s defense would have to get a stop without letting them getting into range for Sanders to kick a game winner.

Damone Clark would hurt them right off the bat with a clear facemask on De’von Achane. And things just got worse on the next play as Stephon Gilmore would go down tackling Wilson in the Dallas end of the field, although he would return a play later. But the Dolphins were well in field goal range as the two minute warning, and it was looking grim.

The Cowboys were running out of time as they led by just one. Forced to use time outs to try and have time for their own drive to win, they were unable to stop the Dolphins from running clock while taking the lead. An egregious hold on Damone Clark that was not called didn’t help. On third and two, Jeff Wilson would convert, and the field goal as time expired would send Dallas to yet another road defeat. Now they have to see if they can win their final two games to at least go into the playoffs, almost certainly as a wild card on the road, and find the success in away games that has so far eluded them in 2023.

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