Cowboys’ Offense, Winning Streak, Stall as New York Upends Dallas 10-7
Heading into a much-anticipated rivalry game on Sunday Night Football, the Dallas Cowboys had a chance to wrap up their 2nd NFC East title in the last 3 years, and clinch a first-round playoff bye, with a victory over the New York Giants. Faced with inclement weather and a tough road environment, the team struggled to convert in critical situations, and the offensive attack led by Zeke and Dak fell flat. Despite another 100+ yard rushing game from Ezekiel Elliott, the team suffered their second loss of the season, both at the hands of their division rivals, and will have to put off any division-clinching festivities for at least another week.
The team started out with a short drive that ended in a punt. On the following drive, a well-executed play-action pass play led to a wide-open Terrance Williams finding paydirt for a 31-yard TD grab. That would prove to be the only points for the team on a night that saw the Cowboys’ passing game sputter in the cold, New Jersey air. Faced with a continuous blitz of pass rushers, rookie phenom Dak Prescott struggled with accuracy in the intermediate and deep passing game. Prescott finished the night 17/37 for 165yds and 1TD. However, he matched his season output for interceptions heading into the matchup with 2 interceptions. The offense committed 3 turnovers on the night, as the Giants’ defense made Prescott look like a rookie in the game.
The outcome of the game didn’t all rest on Prescott’s shoulders, though. The team didn’t receive enough contributions from their wide receivers, as Dez Bryant converted only 1 of his 10 targets into a catch, a 10-yard slant route which he promptly fumbled, ending a potential comeback drive late in the 4th quarter. Cole Beasley also had a relatively quiet night, as he was matched up with the physical Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie for most of the night. Normally the safety valve for the Cowboys’ offense when things stall out, Jason Witten also had a quiet game, as he recorded 4 receptions for 26 yards in the contest. The physical man coverage that the Giants played, and the creative blitz concepts from Giants’ defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, frustrated the Cowboys all night, as the team finished with just 260 yards of total offense.
This article isn’t meant to cause fans to press the panic button on the season. The team still has the inside track to the NFC East, a first-round bye, and home-field advantage. The Cowboys also should be encouraged by the performance of their defense, as the team forced 3 takeaways, got pressure on Eli Manning, and had the opportunity for more turnovers in a defensive slugfest. However, the recent struggles of the offense against 2 of the top defenses in the league, the Giants and Vikings, has given the rest of the league a potential blueprint for disrupting the Cowboys’ offensive attack. Although, this has also given the team a chance to evaluate what they need to improve upon as the regular season winds down, and the team preps for a potential playoff run. As the team breaks down the tape, they will need to be ready for another potential smash-mouth football game next Sunday Night, as the team will host the red-hot Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Jared Wingate is a local Dallas resident who is passionate about 'dem Cowboys! He is also a Broadcast Journalism major. Subscribe and follow him on Twitter @wingate_jared.