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    Sean’s Scout: Cowboys Can’t Finish Drives, Division Clinch with Shutout Loss at Colts

    What is there to say about the performance? After five straight wins, the last three coming at home, the Cowboys have only a return home to look forward to, facing the 5-9 Buccaneers on Sunday after a 23-0 defeat at the Colts.

    Shutout for the first time since 2003, the Cowboys playoff hopes didn't take a hit despite the Redskins and Eagles winning on the road. Washington's last-second win went final just before the Colts ran the clock out on a game the Cowboys simply weren't ready for.

    The Cowboys moved the ball well at times but failed to ever come away with points, opening the door for the Colts to expose this like it hasn't been all season. The Cowboys front four was hardly a factor on defense, allowing Colts Marlon Mack to average 5.1 yards a carry. Scoring the Colts only touchdowns, Mack and Andrew Luck assured the Cowboys wouldn't be a factor with their 10-0 halftime lead. Down to three backups at LG, C, and RG, stood little chance to bring the Cowboys back as the second half quickly got away from Dallas.

    Internally, the Cowboys will have much more to say about their effort on Sunday, but here are just a few of my observations in the first somber edition of Sean's Scout since week nine.

    • The Cowboys defensive problems up front extended well into the second level, with Linebackers and both playing one of their worst games of the season. 

    The Colts took a blocked field goal 44 yards for the game's opening score. Mack accounted for 34 of these yards and the touchdown. On his seven yard run to set up first and goal, Smith was caught taking a poor angle on Mack. The Cowboys were aggressive rushing up the field on the play, with Smith ending up being in the best position to slow Mack.

    Vander Esch was sealed and couldn't fight to get off, which happened again three plays later on third and goal. Leighton looking like a rookie for the first time was just the start of the Cowboys problems, and with being active yet conceding starting snaps to him, it shouldn't take long for Vander Esch to figure things out again.

    • 's dropped touchdown on third and goal to bring up a failed fourth and one was the moment the Cowboys were taken out of this game. 

    This sequence was particularly deflating because the Cowboys did a great job getting down the field to have an opportunity to score. The fourth down decision to run out of a heavy formation, inviting extra defenders to the line of scrimmage, looks especially egregious when stacked against the Amari that picked up the Cowboys initial first down. Rookie got involved, Elliott ripped off a 24 yard run, and the Cowboys still came away empty on this drive.

    A year removed from the Cowboys linebackers, Colts had his way with 's all afternoon, stymieing their most promising drive after Olawale should have scored easily.

    • The Cowboys only chance to get back in the game was taken away from them by a holding call, just another example of players that had carried them through a winning streak not playing up to standard. 

    The Colts took the second half kickoff down the field to extend the lead to 17-0. On fourth and two on the ensuing possession, Prescott hit an injured for 18 yards to the Colts' 23-yard line. The Cowboys offense certainly doesn't provide the confidence that Dallas would finish the drive, but Looney's hold negated Beasley's catch and forced a punt.

    The Colts tacked on a field goal and finished out the game without the Cowboys threatening again. Looney played down to the level of to his left, who replaced , and in for – though I thought Williams held up fairly well and should be in play to earn more snaps wherever needed.

    ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

    The Cowboys can regroup and still accomplish everything they set out for this season, forced to make this loss to the Colts and afterthought like their last one to the Titans became. A five game win streak as a response is out of reach, but a streak of just one is all Dallas needs to clinch the and focus on for the .

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    Sean Martin
    Sean Martinhttp://wmscradio.com/show/upon-further-review/
    Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

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    DevilDog58

    You are right in everything you said but w/o a decent OL, we have ZERO chance of accomplishing the goal EVERY team sets for themselves: a Championship. On D, I think the addition of an Earl Thomas would have made a HUGE difference in stopping their running game but w/o a good OL and an effective QB, it’s all a moot point. The only good thing I see coming from this season is a new OC and, unfortunately, a new HC. I say unfortunately because teams that win consistently usually have continuity in a HC. I hoped Garrett was gonna be that guy but he is still making way too many mistakes for the amount of time he’s been a HC.