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Eatman: From Kickoff to Final Whistle, List of Mistakes Were A Mile High
DENVER – There will be no finger-pointing after this one.
Maybe that’s a very small consolation from a game that had very few things to get excited about.
We’ve seen our share of games in which one side of the ball can get overly frustrated with the other, thinking things could’ve been different had they done their part.
Well, that’s not the case here. From the offense to the defense to the special teams and even some of the coaching decisions, the Cowboys can just chalk this game in Denver as a complete beat-down.
While I’m sure many Cowboys fans were sick to see Aqib Talib racing 103 yards to the end zone in the final minute of play, it was actually rather fitting. In fact, I’m not sure many will agree with this statement, but that last turnover made the final score a better indication of what this game really was.
Had the Cowboys scored one late and trimmed the lead to 35-24, it wouldn’t have told the real story.
I hate to say it, but this game was every bit of 42-17. That’s what will go across the NFL’s landscape and that’s exactly what it should’ve been.
The Cowboys were beaten in every phase of this game and it pretty much happened from the start – if not earlier.
Of course, hindsight never needed a pair of glasses, but the Cowboys made their first mistake of the day 90 minutes before kickoff, when they decide to dress only four cornerbacks. One of them – Jourdan Lewis – had never played in even a preseason game and another with just one game under his belt. That player – Chidobe Awuzie, didn’t make it to halftime before a hamstring injury ended his day. Nolan Carroll, who wasn’t playing well when he was healthy, suffered two injuries, including a head injury in the second quarter and his day was done.
Injuries happen for sure, but the Cowboys probably should’ve covered themselves better by dressing veteran Bene Benwikere, instead of rookie Nolan Brown as the sixth active receiver.
And that was just the start.
When the game started, it was clear the Broncos were just better in every way. A three-and-out by the Cowboys’ offense, followed by a lengthy-drive from the Broncos that ended with a score.
Just think about an aspect of the game and the Broncos were better.
Tackling? The Cowboys seemingly forgot how to bring guys to the ground. On the flip side, they couldn’t make anyone miss.
Running the ball? The Cowboys were getting gashed left and right and even guys like Sean Lee had a hard time getting off blocks. I know Lee was credited with nine tackles but this wasn’t his best performance by any means. I think you could say the same for everyone except Lewis, who had an interception in his NFL debut.
Even guys like DeMarcus Lawrence, who is on pace for a 32-sack season after getting two more Sunday, had a play that changed the entire momentum of the game. Immediately after his second sack, he was flagged for a leverage penalty trying to block the field goal. That’s 15 yards for the Broncos, who took the field goal off the board, got the ball back and went down to score a touchdown.
Certainly not going to say that I agree with the call and/or the rule. But it was a huge play in the game – at least at the time. Had we known the Broncos were going to completely run away with the game, I guess some of these plays wouldn’t have seemed so critical.
But let’s not pinpoint just those guys. Look at Jason Witten, who set the Cowboys’ all-time record for most games played with 215. What a moment for him and his family, who made the trip up to Denver to watch him set the record. He responded with 10 catches and another touchdown grab.
But he also had a false start penalty and key drop in the end zone late in the game. While it’s unlikely the Cowboys could’ve come back, a touchdown there would’ve made the score 35-24 and the offense was able to get down the field again on the next drive … so who knows?
The point is, it was everyone. Lee and Witten didn’t have their best moments. Dez had some nice plays but a few routes he could’ve run better, too. Travis Frederick had his hands full inside – as did the entire line, which couldn’t provide any running room for Zeke.
And then there’s Dak. I didn’t think he played horrible considering the circumstances and the fact the running game was non-existent. But he made some bad decisions and a few poor throws. In a game like this, they needed him to be much better.
But chalk it up to consistency. Across the board the entire team just didn’t come to play.
Denver was a better team by far and gave the Cowboys a whipping we haven’t really seen around here since 2015 – either that Thanksgiving Day loss to the Panthers or earlier in the season against the Patriots.
But that team won just four games, so it was a little more expected.
I know this Cowboys team is much better than that, but they didn’t show it on Sunday.
There’s more than a few players who need to step up their game. About 50 of them and a few coaches to be exact.