It’s a song we’ve heard all too many times, but the Dallas Cowboys could not get the job done in the playoffs after a promising regular season. The Cowboys lost 48-32 to the Green Bay Packers who have their number in the playoffs. It’s the third straight time the Cowboys have lost to the Packers in the playoffs over the last 10 years. They just can’t shake them. Unfortunately, this one hurts the most as the Cowboys came into the game a touchdown favorite, but got their backsides handed to them.
1. A HISTORIC DEFICIT
It was a rough start for Dallas as they didn’t score their first points until the very last play of the first half. Before that, the Cowboys trailed 27-0. The last time they trailed that much at home in the playoffs, NASA had just landed on the moon. That’s a long time. The Cowboys couldn’t score and the defense couldn’t stop the Packers from scoring as the air came out of AT&T Stadium before halftime.
2. A LITTLE HOPE
There wasn’t much that went right in the first half, but the Cowboys were able to create a little hope by scoring on their final drive of the first half. And it took them every bit of the clock to do it. There were just two seconds left in the half when the Cowboys kept the offense on the field and attempted to punch it in. It worked as Dak Prescott found Jake Ferguson for the touchdown. For one moment, albeit brief, the Cowboys had a chance.
3. JONESING FOR SOMEONE TO STOP THE RUN
We all know that the kryptonite of the Cowboys is their run defense. Sadly, this problem came home to roost as they struggled all day to stop the run. Aaron Jones, as he’s been before, was a problem as he ran 21 times for 118 yards at a tune of 5.6 yards per carry. He also scored three times. It’s always bad not being able to stop the run, but it’s especially bad when the team is trying to play catchup.
4. INTO THE GREAT WIDE OPEN
And whenever the Cowboys did sell out to stop the run or almost got to Jordan Love, it seemed like there was always a Packers receiver wide open. Romeo Doubs was all alone picking daisies for a 46-yard pass play and tight end Luke Musgrave was wide open for a 38-yard touchdown. The Cowboys defenders were repeatedly getting crossed up in their coverage assignments and Love made them pay. It was an all-around disappointing performance by Dan Quinn’s defense.
5. DAK THROWING INTO COVERAGE
Dak Prescott is coming off one of his best seasons, even earning All-Pro honors for the first time in his career. It’s no secret that they would need a sharp outing from their offensive leader for them to succeed. Well, it didn’t happen. Many times, Prescott threw the ball into coverage. He and CeeDee Lamb were out of sync early on and it felt like the Packers’ defense was more in tune with the routes than the Cowboys were.
7. HISTORIC DEFICIT PART II
The offense eventually got going, but every time it looked like they could gain an inkling of momentum, the Packers turned around and answered right back. They didn’t let up and kept scoring in the second half with 21 more points. It got so bad that they increased that deficit to 32 points when they trailed 48-16. The final score didn’t tell the story as the Cowboys tacked on some more points after the Packers pulled their starters
The lone bright spot in this game was the strong performance by second-year tight end Jake Ferguson. He finished the game with eight catches for 75 yards and three touchdowns. Suffice to say, the Cowboys have their tight end for the future.
9. CAPTURE THE FLAGS
No team in the NFC had more penalties than the Cowboys this season. That’s not what you would expect from the team that held the two-seed in the conference. True to form, they were out there making mistakes. A defensive hold negated a sack on the Packers' opening drive. A neutral zone infraction created a third-and-short near the goal line on that same drive. They got called for interference on a punt, and they couldn’t even run a two-point conversion without getting flagged for two penalties on the same play. It’s frustrating to always be subjected to this type of disadvantage.
10. MCCARTHY’S FUTURE
The Cowboys have made the playoffs in each of the last three seasons, each time going 12-5 on the year. That’s something. But each time, the season always ended disappointingly with underwhelming performances in the playoffs. It’s a little reminiscence of years past under Jason Garrett where we knew they were going to compete, but just couldn’t get it done in the playoffs. And in a year where fans believed “this year is different” we just witnessed one of the most disgusting playoff performances in a long time. Whether replacing Mike McCarthy is the answer or not, it’s going to be interesting to see what happens from here.