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Cowboys news: Mike McCarthy realizes the challenge posed by the new-look Detroit Lions

Your Wednesday morning news around the Dallas Cowboys

Detroit Lions v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

McCarthy on Lions: ‘Biggest challenge of the year’ - Patrik Walker, Dallascowboys.com

The Dallas Cowboys will look to get back in rhythm at home

“You have to recognize what a great job [head coach Dan Campbell] has done and the team he’s built up there,” said Mike McCarthy on Tuesday. “… I think those guys have done an incredible job.”

Campbell arrived in Detroit in 2021 and, two short seasons later, has officially clinched the NFC North and heads to Dallas with a record of 11-4 — tied with the San Francisco 49ers and the Philadelphia Eagles in that regard.

They’ll be looking to land their 12th win when they face the Cowboys, a familiar environment for Campbell, who suited up for Dallas as a tight end behind Jason Witten from 2003-2005. For the Cowboys, however, it’ll be about landing that elusive 11th victory that would also keep them alive for the No. 2 seed or better, and for the NFC East crown as they enter the final regular season matchup against the Washington Commanders in Week 18.

And they’ll have the added motivation of it including the induction of legendary former head coach Jimmy Johnson into the team’s coveted Ring of Honor.

“You’ve gotta take care of what’s in front of you,” said McCarthy. “We want to be much better than we were last week. But there’s also a lot of good things that occurred in Miami — improved from the prior week [in Buffalo].”

It’s been a dominant season for McCarthy’s group at home, currently carrying a 7-0 record at AT&T Stadium this season versus a 3-5 record on the road, and their production turns up massively when they take the field in Arlington.

“We’ve been able to get into a rhythm early and keep our foot on the gas,” McCarthy added about the difference in how Dallas plays at home.

CeeDee Lamb’s Frustration Is Justified in Cowboys’ Loss to the Dolphins - Jess Nevarez, Pro Football Network

Days later, it’s still a mystery as to why Dallas’ star receiver wasn’t more involved in Miami.

Keeping CeeDee Lamb Involved

The Cowboys can’t crack the code as to why they are struggling to win on the road this season. The team has lost five of their eight road games this season and still has one more on the schedule in Week 18 against the Commanders.

“This narrative around us not winning at away [games], strange but true, unfortunately,” said Lamb, adding, “We know what we gotta do. We know we gotta continue to be great, continue to be who we are, and change that narrative.”

Lamb had six receptions for 118 yards and one touchdown against the Dolphins. And although this sounds like a productive game from the receiver, all of his production came in the first and fourth quarters.

Lamb did surpass 5,000 career scrimmage yards during the game, becoming the first receiver in Cowboys history and the sixth wide receiver in NFL history to reach 5,000 career scrimmage yards in his first four seasons.

After the game, he was clear about his frustrations when he said, “I just feel like if I’m going to be involved, just keep me involved.”

Nick at Nite: These few things happen in Dallas losses - Nick Harris, Dallascowboys.com

Everyone’s trying to crack the code on why Dallas continues to lose on the road.

As the playoffs quickly approach, confidence in the Dallas Cowboys making a deep playoff run has gone from “Hey, that’s a team you don’t want to play in January” to “It’s the same Dallas team, just a different year.”

While there are logical points and fallacies to that argument, it’s hard to look at back-to-back road losses – two opportunities to get just one quality road win before the end of the regular season – and feel confidence in going into San Francisco or Philadelphia in a few weeks. At this point, you would almost feel a little queasy about going into Tampa Bay with the way the Buccaneers have put it together in the last few weeks.

But when we heard from the players in the locker room following the loss to Miami, there is still that confidence that was present at the beginning of the month.

“We know who we are,” Dak Prescott said postgame. “You saw it on the first two drives and late in the game. It’s just about being consistent. If we stay consistent and the defense plays like they did tonight, it’s a different story.”

Consistency. It’s a theme in all of the wins for the Cowboys, and it’s an issue in all five losses that have trends that put the Cowboys behind in games and make it difficult on any one side of the ball to overcome.

2023 Cowboys rookie report: Hunter Luepke draws plenty of attention - David Howman, Blogging the Boys

Hunter Leupke had season highs in touches on Sunday—with one big mistake on the opening drive.

iDL Mazi Smith

For as good as Mazi Smith was last week, he took a clear step back this week. He played on 26 defensive snaps, once again being second among interior defenders in total workload and most of them coming against the run. But unlike last week, Smith was frequently losing the leverage battle and getting pushed around a bit.

Smith also didn’t do much with his opportunities as a pass rusher. After getting his first career sack last week, Smith saw a healthy portion of pass rush reps, but came up with zero pressures. In the context of his whole body of work this season, it’s easy to chalk this game up as a rare miss for Smith, but still frustrating to see this late in the year.

FB Hunter Luepke

The Cowboys clearly had a plan for Hunter Luepke in this game. He saw four touches on the opening drive alone, which started with two successful carries and a catch on his lone target. Unfortunately, it all came crashing down when Luepke fumbled the handoff (though Dak Prescott was officially credited with the fumble) on a first and goal touchdown call.

Luepke didn’t get an offensive touch the rest of the day, but he still played on 11 offensive snaps, tying Rico Dowdle for second among running backs. Luepke had some successful reps in both run blocking and pass protection later on in the game, though he’ll surely be kicking himself for that fumble.

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