The Dallas Cowboys didn't make the kind of statement they'd hoped for in their matchup with the Arizona Cardinals. Struggles in all phases of the game, plus a critical fumble by Dak Prescott, led to a 25-22 loss against Dallas' potential first-round opponent in the playoffs.
After an ugly first half and a 13-7 deficit at the break, the Cowboys did pick it up enough to make things interesting down the stretch. But their early sins, mainly stalled drives and missed field goal by Greg Zuerlein, proved too much to overcome.
Things started to swing Dallas' way late in the third quarter. After forcing Arizona backwards and into a punt from their own 5-yard-line, CeeDee Lamb returned it 17 yards and gave the Cowboys great field position just 31 yards from pay dirt. Dallas capitalized with a touchdown throw to Cedrick Wilson, narrowing the score to 22-14.
After reclaiming the ball from another Cardinals punt, Dak Prescott fumbled on a scramble and gave Arizona easy positioning for what would be the game-winning field goal. Even though Dallas came back again with another touchdown pass to Amari Cooper and a successful two-point conversion, they couldn't get the ball back as the Cardinals held on for the win.
The box score was ultimately kind to Prescott; 226 passing yards and three touchdowns for a 105.8 passer rating. But in addition to his costly fumble, Dak only went 24-of-38 and had several errant and tipped balls that stymied the offense.
Perhaps underrated in this failure is Dallas' inability to find any semblance of a rushing attack. Ezekiel Elliott was stonewalled most of the day; only 19 yards on six carries. One big run got called back on a holding penalty but otherwise neither he or Tony Pollard could get it going.
It also wasn't a great day for the ballyhooed Dan Quinn defense. Arizona was generally able to execute and we didn't get the turnovers or even multiple sacks (just one by Dorance Armstrong today) that have helped the Cowboys succeed in recent weeks.
The “glass half full” view of this game is that Dallas rallied and stayed competitive with another of the top NFC contenders. But their flatness in the first half was scary; a foreboding sign with the playoffs just two weeks away.