The Dallas Cowboys suffered a tough 13-9 loss at the hands of the 10-1 New England Patriots on Sunday. And while the score was close and the opponent formidable, it was almost all-bad for this Cowboys team in defeat.
They've yet to go out and have a “statement” win this season, and they continue to lose in the same frustrating ways when facing good teams.
Let's get into my game notes from the excruciating loss.
- Jason Garrett. Where to begin on Jason Garrett. First off, this team was woefully unprepared for the weather conditions. I get it, it's next to impossible to simulate the storm which overtook Foxborough on Sunday, but there were steps that could've been taken. The most obvious one? Making sure Dak Prescott wore the glove on his throwing hand from the start. In terms of in game decision making, it was pretty bad from Garrett once again. On fourth down he is looking to kick, no matter the circumstance. No matter the weather, and no matter the opposing defense. Kicking a field goal in the red zone, while down seven points in the fourth quarter, is indefensible. Rather than putting the ball in the hands of his best player, Garrett left the game up to some dumb luck and officiating on a last minute drive. Just awful.
- Then there's the issue of special teams. For weeks we have been complaining about the special teams mistakes Dallas makes, but this Sunday it really came back to bite them. Matthew Slater's blocked punt was ultimately the difference in a 13-9 game, and the back to back penalties Dallas suffered when trying to just punt the ball away crushed their chances. Jerry Jones said special teams is all a reflection of coaching – and Sunday's reflection was a really poor one.
- Now, the players didn't have a great day either. Dak Prescott had just about his worst game of the season, though the rain and wind certainly played a part. Prescott barely broke 200 yards passing on the day, and threw a bad interception to Stephon Gilmore to set New England up with a short field. He was inaccurate at times, but did make a couple big time plays to set Dallas up in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, it was not enough.
- Amari Cooper simply has to be better in these big road games. Typically an unstoppable force at receiver, Cooper was held catch-less by Gilmore in the 13-9 loss. He was blanketed all afternoon, as he was by Darius Slay for much of the previous game as well. Cooper gets another tough match-up with the Bills this week, so hopefully he is healthy and motivated to get back on track. The offense needs him.
- Chidobe Awuzie is a liability at this point. On any and every big third down opposing quarterbacks are targeting Awuzie, and more often than not they are finding completions and conversions. Yes, he is almost always in the right spot in coverage, but he can never seem to make a play on the ball. He's all they got on the outside right now, but I'm very concerned about his future in Dallas at this point.
- Let's talk some positives. Connor Williams returned from injury and was very good at left guard on Sunday. He's shown some big improvements this season after an up-and-down rookie year. He's gotten more solid in pass pro when facing the bull rush, and has been very effective in the run game as well. We should all be very encouraged by what he's done so far in 2019.
- Randall Cobb has become a legit WR3 in recent weeks. With Amari Cooper garnering increased attention, Cobb has stepped up big since the bye. He went for 86 yards on 4 catches this week, and had broken 100 yards in each of the previous two games.
- This week's game against Buffalo is now close to a must-win, considering the Eagles' remaining schedule. Dallas has yet to prove they can beat good teams, but luckily for them no one seems to believe the Bills are actually a good team. Still, at 8-3, they have a solid roster with an excellent defense. It's going to be a tough test on a short week, but it's one Dallas has to go and get.