The disaster occurred on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field as the Dallas Cowboys blew a 14-point fourth-quarter lead to lose to the Green Bay Packers 31-28 in overtime. Most people blame head coach Mike McCarthy for the loss, but he shouldn’t be the guy fans are pointing the finger at for this game.
Many people are looking at the final Cowboys drive in overtime, where Dallas went for it on fourth down and missed it as the game’s pivotal play. Heads were being scratched multiple times after that play, with many questioning the decision to go for it when they could have had kicker Brett Maher attempt a field goal. So here comes the part where the devil’s advocate role will be displayed by yours indeed.
The Cowboys were facing a 53-yard field goal to take the lead. It is a makeable field goal that Maher has done multiple times throughout his career, but the weather plays a small role in this decision. It’s harder to kick a football in cold weather, so it wouldn’t have been as easy of a field goal as many people would think.
Fans can’t blame Cowboys coach McCarthy for being aggressive and trying to get the first down, especially when the defense had failed them in the fourth quarter allowing multiple 35-plus-yard touchdown passes from Aaron Rodgers to Christian Watson. The Cowboy’s defense wasn’t getting the job done, and McCarthy knew that. Nevertheless, he needed a spark so going for it on fourth down isn’t a wrong decision.
If fans want to blame somebody, it really shouldn’t be McCarthy. Instead, the franchise quarterback and the offensive play caller need to be considered as part of the blame.
The reality is Dak Prescott is still better than the alternative, which is Cooper Rush, because Prescott is a playmaker. Prescott can throw it down the field and make the big pass when needed. At least that was his typical resume until the Packers game Sunday.
Prescott was simply inaccurate with the football, as he missed multiple throws throughout the game. He only completed 58 percent of his passes as he went 27 of 46 throwing the football. In addition, there was something off as he couldn’t connect with receivers most of the time. Prescott’s touchdown passes were good, but it wasn’t pretty overall.
Both of his interceptions were inaccurate and easy picks for the Packers. They were overthrown or not thrown in the proper position. They were costly interceptions as the Packers could score touchdowns off of both turnovers, which ended up being the difference in the game.
Another reality about Prescott is that while he is still a good quarterback, he isn’t someone who should be throwing the ball almost 50 times a game. Few quarterbacks can succeed doing that outside of Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen. So here, the second part of the blame should go to the man calling the offensive plays for the Cowboys.
Cowboys fans need to ask offensive coordinator Kellen Moore why he calls a passing play on third down in overtime when you know you are going for it on fourth down. Also, it’s baffling when you have a running back in Tony Pollard, who ran for 115 yards in the game. The offense ran for 159 yards total on 31 carries. So that’s a good day’s work for the rushing attack.
It shouldn’t surprise many, though, as this is Moore’s typical play-calling style when Prescott is his quarterback. He will revert to his old ways of throwing the football more than 60 percent of the time to get big-chunk plays through the air. As a result, he should be picking up three to four yards a carry on the ground, which is what they had been doing so well throughout the game.
It was odd to call passing plays on third and fourth down to give the ball back to the red-hot Packers team. Both passing plays were poorly designed as Prescott struggled to find an open receiver. Even if he could find one, his accuracy was below average throughout the game, so why not lean on your running backs to get the job done?
There will be other moments throughout the game that Cowboys fans will analyze and mention moments that cost us the game. Donovan Wilson’s costly penalty for a late hit out of bounds comes to mind. Also, Jalen Tolbert was offsides on the offense despite being told by the referee that he was on the line.
A lot of blame has to go around for the Cowboys, but the ones that will be under fire the most should be Prescott and Moore. As the franchise quarterback, Prescott should be able to make all the big plays in clutch situations. But, unfortunately, he is paid for that and didn’t get it done.
Moore must get out of his way with the way he is calling the plays with Prescott as the quarterback. He has one of the best offensive lines in league with one of the best one-two punches at running back. Lean on Pollard to pick up chunk plays and when Ezekiel Elliot returns, let him pick up the tough three to four yards on the ground.
While the Packers’ loss will be frustrating for the rest of the week, there is still hope that the Cowboys are still good enough to move past this and beat a Minnesota Vikings team that has been in many close games. The Cowboys must realize, though, that relying on the running game offensively will help them control the clock and the game more. Fans only hope the team will listen to that message in a critical game Sunday in Minnesota.