Cowboy Chronicles: 38-10 loss vs. Cardinals

Heading into Week 6, the Dallas Cowboys were looking to increase momentum after edging out the New York Giants, 37-34, during Week 5. More importantly, the Cowboys were looking to start off their Dak Prescott-less trek on a positive note. To Dallas, the Arizona Cardinals looked to be victim numero uno. 

Instead of doing the bullying in the Big D, the Cowboys were utterly dismantled by quarterback Kyler Murray and the entirety of the Cardinals’ offense. Dallas’ offense, led by backup quarterback and former Cincinnati Bengal, Andy Dalton, was unable to find a rhythm to claw their way back into the game. 

The end result saw a continuation of Murray’s success at AT&T Stadium (dating back to high school) and a 38-10 drubbing, which would be the Cowboys’ worst margin of defeat against Arizona since Nov. 16, 1970 (38-0), when the Arizona Cardinals were the St. Louis Cardinals. 

The loss puts the Cowboys at 2-4 heading into Week 7. Here is a breakdown of the game.

Offense:

Heading into the game, the Cowboys, even without Prescott, looked capable enough to score points and remain competitive against the screen-savvy Cardinals attack. With the three-headed monster of Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup, supplemented with Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield, one would think they could still explode, right? Well, not so much.

Arizona outgained Dallas in total yards (438 vs. 344) despite the latter putting together more total plays (84 vs. 60). The two main culprits for the severe difference in point totals came in the turnover and rushing department. Dallas committed four turnovers during the game, which included two lost fumbles by Elliott on two consecutive drives. It was the first game in Elliott’s 62-game NFL career where he lost two fumbles in the same contest. Coupled with two interceptions thrown by Dalton, it was no wonder why Dallas could not get any successful drives going. 

The weapons for Dalton are there. Unfortunately, so is the rustiness, as before the matchup, Dalton had not started a game in close to a year (Dec. 29, 2019 against the Cleveland Browns). A completely battered, bruised and green offensive line only adds to the issues when not discussing the turnover problem. It will be a work in progress, and Dallas should score a relatively hefty margin of touchdowns in future games, but man, oh man will there be an adjustment period. 

Defense:

You want the good news first, or the bad? The good news is that the Cowboys’ defense held Arizona’s offense scoreless during the first quarter. The bad news? The Cowboys’ defense still allowed 30+ points in their fifth consecutive game. Even with the return of linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, the Cowboys could not answer Murray’s vertical and slant throws, despite the latter completing only nine of his 24 passing attempts. Then, of course, you have the running game, as running back Kenyan Drake pounded for 164 rushing yards and two touchdowns. The 26-year-old’s 164 rushing yards were the second-most rushing yards he has posted in a single game. His top rushing game, though, only beat out the performance against Dallas by two yards (Drake rushed for 166 yards against the Seattle Seahawks on Dec. 22, 2019). To make matters worse, Drake did it in less attempts (24 attempts against Seattle compared to 20 against Dallas). 

Depth and execution have been core issues for the Cowboys’ defensive unit. The poor performances are not only creating rifts between the players and coaches but are getting close to historically bad levels. According to CBS Sports Headquarters, the Cowboys are on pace to allow 581 points in 2020. If they were to achieve this, their defense would surpass the 1981 Baltimore Colts, who allowed 533 points. Let that sink in. In case you are still confused, well, the Cowboys need to improve on defense moving forward. Seems legit. 

Special Teams: 

With the lackadaisical offense, it is no wonder that the special teams unit for Dallas did not do much in the game. Kicker Greg Zuerlein went 1/2 in field goal attempts and 1/1 in extra points. When the offense is doing its job, so is the special team unit. When it is not, well, neither is this facet of the game, plain and simple.

Next Up: 

Dallas will return to division play with a matchup on the road against the Washington Football Team at 1:00 p.m. EST on Sunday.

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