The Cowboys defense was a step behind the misdirection of the Cardinals in the run game, with dual threat QB Josh Dobbs having his best game of the season.
1st Down: Q1, 14:36 - Dobbs gashes Cowboys for 44 yards
It didn’t take long for Arizona to set the tone. On just the second play from scrimmage, while the Fox broadcast was literally still introducing the Cowboys defense, Cardinals quarterbacks Josh Dobbs ripped them for a 44-yard scamper.
Parsons found himself in the backfield in his usual hurry, but he whiffed on grabbing Dobbs as he squirted outside with the ball. Add in Jayron Kearse and Donovan Wilson getting tangled up with two ‘Zona tight ends- and themselves- and Dobbs was off to the races.
The Cowboys worked to shore up their run defense over the offseason and hadn’t allowed a rush of over 18 yards in their first two games. But even after the Arizona game plan became obvious with this early statement, Dallas couldn’t stop the bleeding; in the next quarter, Cardinals wide receiver Rondale Moore scored on a 45-yard run. The Cowboys eventually gave up 222 yards on the ground, including five run plays of 20 yards or more.
The trio of Tyron Smith, Tyler Biadasz, and Zack Martin were all out on Sunday, but could return this week.
A last-second scratch for Tyron Smith, who dodged the inactives list and was named offensive captain ahead of kickoff, left the Cowboys without three starting offensive linemen on Sunday.
There’s at least a fighting chance that won’t be the case when the New England Patriots visit.
“It’s possible, but we’ll just have to see how the week goes,” Executive Vice President and Director of Player Personnel Stephen Jones told 105.3FM the Fan on Monday morning.
That said, there’s nothing that can or will be determined until later in the week, with practice resuming on Wednesday and ramping up on Thursday.
“You’ve just got to take each guy week to week,” Jones added. “We know how Zack Martin is — he rarely misses anything and is always available. Tyron is working through something with his knee, so all of those things are something we monitor as the week goes.
“Is it possible? Yes. Do we know for sure? Absolutely not.”
3 overreactions from stunning Cowboys loss that fans shouldn’t waste time on - Jerry Trotta, The Landry Hat
With just two days to prepare for their first game without Trevon Diggs, the Cowboys defense showed they needed more time to handle the loss of the All-Pro cornerback.
1. Defense can’t be elite without Trevon Diggs
Both DaRon Bland and Stephon Gilmore took their lumps in coverage, and the former committed a big pass interference penalty. A turnover machine to start the season, it’s not crazy to think Diggs would have stepped up with a game-changing play. But the idea that the defense will struggle to this extent without Diggs is lunacy.
Ultimately, Diggs’ absence isn’t to blame for the toothless effort defending the run. The defense allowed 222 rushing yards on 7.4 yards per carry. Not only did the Cardinals march down the field using the run, but they also gashed the Cowboys for carries of 45, 44 and 26. The 45-yarder went for a touchdown.
Additionally, Diggs absence isn’t to blame for the blown coverage that preluded Arizona’s gut-punch fourth quarter touchdown with seven minutes left that made the score 28-16.
The defense has to answer some tough questions, but the Cowboys don’t win this game if Diggs started at cornerback. Dan Quinn’s unit has more than enough talent to be elite without Diggs. One lousy performance doesn’t change that.
In a game they could have greatly used a big special teams play, don’t forget about KaVontae Turpin’s big punt return that was called back for holding.
DEVIN HARPER GETS CALLED FOR HOLDING
After allowing a score on each of Arizona’s five first-half drives, the Cowboys’ defense forced a 3 & out on their first 2nd half possession.
Cowboys’ PR KaVontae Turpin took a line drive punt 51 yards deep into Cardinals’ territory, but once again a flag was on the field.
LB Devin Harper was charged with a hold, and the penalty had nothing to do with the return.
It occurred at the line of scrimmage right as the ball left the punter’s foot, but was a penalty nonetheless.
Dallas did drive the length of the field, eventually turning the ball over on downs, but that play put a damper on what normally could have been a spark play by Turpin.
Cowboys’ Mike McCarthy Wishes He’d Been More Aggressive Passing in Loss to Cardinals - Scott Polacek, Bleacher Report
Dak Prescott’s game-ending interception came with the clock winding down, after five straight runs to Tony Pollard inside the 20.
“I wish I had been a little more aggressive in the passing game on first and second down,” McCarthy told reporters Monday when speaking about his team’s 28-16 loss.
While McCarthy may regret not airing it out more, a reliance on the rushing attack wasn’t exactly the problem for the Cowboys.
In fact, more runs might have led to a more favorable outcome.
That is because running back Tony Pollard was largely dialed in with 122 rushing yards on 5.3 yards per carry. Dallas as a team ran for 185 yards on 5.6 yards per carry, which is fairly effective when it comes to running the ball.
In terms of the aerial attack, Prescott was 25-of-40 for 249 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The pick was a particularly costly one, as it came when the Cowboys were at Arizona’s 6-yard line and looking to cut the deficit to a single score in the final minutes.
Prescott was far from dominant, but the biggest issue for Dallas likely came on the defensive side.
Dak Prescott is putting this loss on the team’s inefficiency in the red zone, which came back to hurt them unlike in Week 2 versus the Jets.
“You look at this loss, we moved the ball up and down the field and just couldn’t score,” Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott said, via Todd Archer of ESPN. “So, that’s your reason for this loss.”
In the second half, the Cowboys twice kicked field goals from the Arizona 8. They turned it over on downs from the Arizona 4, and Prescott threw an interception from the Arizona 6 on their final possession. Prescott was only 2-of-9 for 25 yards with a touchdown and an interception in the red zone.
“We’ve got to do better,” Prescott said. “Just as a team, as a unit, myself. Got to make some throws. Maybe use my feet more. Honestly, that’s an area that we haven’t been good in the last two weeks. Even in the win last week, that was the sore spot in the win. . . . We’ve all got to get back to the drawing board. Starts with me. Making some throws and making some plays with my feet and trying to get it done.”
For the season, the Cowboys have six touchdowns in 15 red zone possessions. Only the Bucs, Titans and Texans have a worse success rate than the Cowboys’ 40 percent. The Cowboys have seven red zone field goals.
The Cowboys scored touchdowns on 40 of 56 red zone drives (71 percent) last season.
NFL power rankings: Bills, Dolphins challenge 49ers, Chiefs near top; Bears, Broncos at bottom for Week 4 - Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News
Losing as two-score favorites to the Cardinals caused quite the fall for the Cowboys in these power rankings. Look out for our BTB consensus rankings later today.
NFL power rankings Week 3
1. San Francisco 49ers 3-0 (previous ranking: 1)
The 49ers took care of more business to kick off Week 3 by separating from their Giants. Although Christian McCaffrey is off to the races for a scrimmage crown, Brock Purdy is dealing at a high level to George Kittle and all of his weapons, making it even easier on the defense to tee off.
2. Kansas City Chiefs 2-1 (4)
The Chiefs’ defense is the big story early in the season. They’re getting slowly revved up offensively toward their super standards with more diversity in the passing and running games for Patrick Mahomes, but Chris Jones’ pressure and a dominant pass defense have been more impressive early.
3. Miami Dolphins 3-0 (5)
The Dolphins need to shore up a few things defensively under Vic Fangio and will be helped with healthier bodies, including Jalen Ramsey. But offensively, they keep finding more speed to boost Tua Tagovailoa and Tyreek Hill, now with a dynamic 1-2 punch in the running game with Raheem Mostert and rookie De’Von Achane. Seventy points in any era screams true Super Bowl contention.
4. Buffalo Bills 2-1 (6)
The Bills have gotten right fast with Josh Allen and the dangerous downfield passing game by ripping the Raiders and Commanders. Their defense needed a stellar shutdown performance and that also came in Washington. Giddy up for Buffalo hosting Miami in an epic AFC East clash in Week 4.
5. Philadelphia Eagles 2-0 (3)
The Eagles have needed to grind a little with their offense early but found their dominant rushing attack in Week 2 to help play better complementary football for their banged-up transitional defense. They need to get Jalen Hurts back to high efficiency in the passing game again.
6. Detroit Lions 2-1 (8)
The Lions’ defense made a statement in Week 1 at Kansas City before crashing vs. Seattle in Week 2. Aidan Hutchinson and friends rose to the occasion in ripping the one-dimensional Falcons and making it a simpler outing for Jared Goff.
7. Dallas Cowboys 2-1 (2)
The Cowboys took the Cardinals lightly offensively, and once they fell behind, they couldn’t dig deep enough with Dak Prescott to recover. No Trevon Diggs may be a bigger emotional blow to the defense than anticipated.
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