Cowboys HC Mike McCarthy laments key mistakes in loss to Dolphins, vows to be ‘road warriors’ - Michael Baca, NFL.com
The Cowboys next chance to prove they can play on the road against good teams will likely be in the playoffs.
“It was a hard-fought game,” McCarthy on Sunday, via the team’s official website. “It gives you a taste of if we have to go on the road to get this done, and there’s a lot that we can draw from this. We’re disappointed because we had some miscues. I had a horse---- backed up plan, and we were backed up twice and didn’t move the field position, so we didn’t help our defense out there.
“We didn’t have a takeaway, but we had a giveaway. It’s those big mistakes you can’t make in these games, but I think the resilience, battle and grit that we’re looking for — we clearly have that.”
Dallas fell to 3-5 on the road this season, and Sunday’s razor-thin defeat resulted in the team’s first losing streak of 2023. While the Cowboys are still in play for the NFC East title, which would offer a home playoff game (Dallas is undefeated at AT&T Stadium this season), McCarthy indicated the writing on the wall for what’s to come in late January.
“We have to play better than we did today,” he added. “We have to play above it on the road. Road warriors we will be.”
Forget the Cowboys’ road record. Offense needs to learn from lapses Sunday vs. Dolphins - Michael Gehlken
The Cowboys missed Tyron Smith to deal with the Dolphins blitzing defense on Sunday.
The result dropped Dallas to 3-5 away from AT&T Stadium compared with 7-0 at home.
Inevitably, the preexisting “Cowboys struggle on the road” narrative gained traction and will be regurgitated into the postseason. While such talk contains a basic truth, its oversimplification renders any related discourse largely unproductive.
Where Sunday’s loss occurred mattered little. That the Cowboys went cold offensively for two quarters and repeatedly allowed Bradley Chubb to wreak havoc while unblocked matters very much.
Prescott threw left to Gallup when faced with the aforementioned decision. An unblocked Chubb, aligned in the slot, tackled him for a 4-yard loss. Meanwhile, on the right side, the correct side, Lamb had three-on-three blocking — or maybe four-on-three, depending on how quickly right tackle Terence Steele could disengage from his first-level block to run downfield.
Do the Cowboys need to rely more on their defense, or scoring more on offense, to win games on the road?
Defense Folds In The End
They held Miami to five field goals and one lone touchdown after a dubious roughing the passer call on Micah Parsons.
Parsons was held throughout the game without drawing a flag we note without further comment.
But after Prescott had hit Brandin Cooks for the go ahead touchdown with a little over three minutes remaining, the defense couldn’t come up with a stop.
Miami stayed ahead of the chains the entire drive before hitting the game winner as time expired.
There Is Good News
Unlike the three blowout losses where it appeared the entire team had called in sick, at least Dallas showed some life.
The Cowboys need to cut down on the critical mistakes on the road and consistently move the ball every drive.
The defense hasn’t forced a turnover since their win over the Eagles at home in Week 14. Their last road turnover was back against Carolina back in Week 11.
Dan Quinn’s unit needs to turn that back around in Dallas’ favor over the next few weeks.
If they can, they should be able to handle the Lions at home next week and the lowly Commanders in D.C. and put pressure on Philadelphia.
The Cowboys need to win versus the Lions and at the Commanders to have any chance of a home playoff game.
But in the bitter end, with seemingly Santa Claus ready to deliver gifts to the erstwhile NFC East Division leaders, the defense needed one more stop. The offense needed one less turnover and of course one less possession inside the 20 without a touchdown.
Thus, Dolphins 22, Cowboys 20, in a riveting contest on Christmas Eve here at Hard Rock Stadium, Jason Sanders walking off the game with his fifth field goal, this one a chip shot from 29 yards out after making three others from 57, 52 and 53 as the final two seconds ticked off the clock.
The Cowboys dropping to 10-5, now technically a half game behind the Philadelphia Eagles (10-4), who play the Giants next on Christmas Day.
The Cowboys losing consecutive games for the first time this year; for the first time since losing two straight to Kansas City on Nov. 21, 2021, and then four days later to Vegas on thanksgiving; for the first time after recovering from 10 losses along the way to win the next game.
Week 17 NFL Power Rankings: Joe Flacco Brings Boost to Browns, Dak Prescott and Cowboys Tumble, and Lions Win NFC South - Dalton Miller, Pro Football Network
The Cowboys consecutive losses to the Bills and Dolphins caused a late-season change to the NFL’s top five.
6) Philadelphia Eagles
Jeffrey Lurie does not blame his players. The staff was quick to quietly demote Sean Desai and elevate Matt Patricia to defensive coordinator, but that move won’t save this defense.
They need their offense to get back on track if they want to have a serious shot at repeating as the NFC’s representative in the Super Bowl.
Dak Prescott played incredibly well, considering the blender that Vic Fangio and the Dolphins’ pass rush put the Cowboys’ offensive line in. The box score won’t accurately depict the conditions Prescott was playing in against Miami, but he did everything he could to bring Dallas back in the fourth quarter.
But the Cowboys’ bending defense bent to a point of failure on the Dolphins’ final offensive drive, resulting in a hard-fought Cowboys loss.
The NFL is a funny place. Just a week ago the Bills were throttling the Dallas Cowboys at home. However, a flight across the nation to a five-win Chargers team with their backup quarterback and an interim head coach nearly beat them.
Any team can beat anybody, but if there is one roster that the division winners (if Buffalo does not win the AFC East) don’t want to face in the Wild Card Round, it’s these Bills.
3) Miami Dolphins
We don’t often get to see two of the best teams in the league face off. It’s even rarer to see two of the most talented teams in the league play a game that lives up to the hype, even if it’s not quite the way we imagined it.
Both offenses had decent days at the office but were ultimately flawed. The Dolphins couldn’t score touchdowns in the red zone despite moving the ball well down the field, and the Cowboys could not protect Prescott at all.
This isn’t the first time this season that the top two teams in the NFL power rankings met. The 49ers look like a juggernaut running through walls right now. But the Ravens are similarly well-coached, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
And we mustn’t forget that Lamar Jackson owns the NFC like Aaron Rodgers did the Bears for so many years.
1) San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers are the best team in the NFL, and it’s not particularly close. Their 191-point scoring differential is the best in the NFL, and as long as Trent Williams and Deebo Samuel are healthy, their quarterback is good enough to look like the runaway winner of the MVP award for this season.
Having Fred Warner for this particular matchup certainly doesn’t hurt, given Lamar Jackson is at his best testing intermediate windows over the middle of the field. That’s exactly where Warner causes nightmares for opposing quarterbacks.
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