Despite a 23-7 deficit going into the fourth quarter the Dallas Cowboys didn't stop fighting. Unfortunately, that fight and their season ended in failure today with a 23-17 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the 2021 playoffs.
With Dallas trailing big after three quarters, Greg Zuerlein capped a drive with a 51-yard field goal to narrow the score to 23-10. Next possession, Anthony Brown picked off a bad pass by Jimmy Garoppolo to set up the Cowboys on the 49ers' 28-yard-line.
Dak Prescott would eventually run the ball in for a touchdown, giving us our final score of 23-17. But the drama continued as the Cowboys forced a punt and crossed midfield with over two minutes left, then eventually turned it over on downs
The 49ers nearly put the game away on their final possession, but Dallas used its three timeouts to save clock and eventually get the ball back. With only 32 seconds still on the clock, the Cowboys took advantage of soft defense and churned out 56 yards in five quick plays.
Unfortunately, a bizarre choice to to run the ball with no timeouts and then a mishandling of the ball between Dak Prescott and the official cost the Cowboys a shot at the endzone. The game ended as it had been played most of the day; Dallas failing to execute and allowing the referees to get in their way.
The nature of this loss is what hurts especially. Dallas sabotaged itself with numerous penalties, stalling its offense repeatedly and erasing valiant efforts to remain in the game. Even when the 49ers' top defenders like DE Nick Bosa and LB Fred Warner left the game with injuries, the Cowboys still didn't do enough to take advantage.
This game went as many projected throughout the week. The 49ers had 169 rushing yards and were able to play conservatively. The Cowboys blew their opportunities with penalties and bad plays in key moments from culprits on both sides of the ball.
It was a team loss with plenty of blame to go around, both on the field and among the coaching staff.
Winning the NFC East and getting 12 wins was nice. But as Tony Romo stated more than once during CBS' broadcast, getting bounced in the first round of the playoffs is nothing anyone's happy with at any level of the Cowboys' organization or fanbase.
Now the offseason begins with both OC Kellen Moore and DC Dan Quinn being pursued by numerous teams with coaching vacancies. Free agents abound and several positions, such as left guard and linebacker, clearly needing upgrades after this season.
We're on to 2022.