Dak Prescott gave away the ball twice in the narrow loss to the 49ers, in a matchup the Cowboys had a chance to win if they didn't again generate self-inflicted wounds
SANTA CLARA, California — The Dallas Cowboys are officially out of chances to show their resiliency, their 2022 season ending at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers for a second consecutive postseason.
In what began as a mostly defensive battle for both teams, and remained as such for much of the game, the Cowboys offense couldn't get the ball rolling and, unfortunately for them, became the Achilles heel in why the team fell 19-12 at Levi's Stadium in the NFC Divisional Round.
Dak Prescott threw two interceptions that led to six points for the 49ers in a matchup they lost by seven, with kicker Brett Maher contributing a blocked PAT before getting on track with two field goals later in the game; but the damage had been done as those seven points are the exact margin in which the Cowboys lost the contest.
"It hurts," said Prescott. "Very disappointed we weren't able to come out with this one. Disappointed in my play and for the guys in the locker room. … It's unfortunate.
He went on to explain the two interceptions, respectively.
"On the first one, I hitched one too many times with [Michael Gallup]," he said. "Understandably, hitching three times, thought I was gonna go on a scramble but the guy just came back to the ball and made a play. I've gotta throw that one away or use my feet and get out of the pocket. On the second one, the nickel [cornerback] squeezed, and I tried to throw it to CeeDee; but the [defender] was able to make a play on it. He tipped it in the air and to the [middle linebacker]."
Prescott is owning both mistakes — fully.
"Those are throws you can't have, not in the playoffs," he added. "Not when you're playing a team like that [and] on the road. No excuses for it. Those are 100% on me."
Prescott wasn't the only player who struggled to get going on offense, and the loss of Tony Pollard to injury late in the second quarter made things that much more difficult on that side of the ball, in an effort that was nothing close to the near-masterpiece executed by Prescott only one week prior against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
It was Lamb carrying most of the workload for Dallas — finishing with 117 receiving yards and tying a franchise record for most postseason catches in a single game (10) — but the 49ers defense stifled the run game and, when there were plays to be made, the Cowboys failed string enough together for them to ultimately matter.
The second-leading receiver on the evening was tight end Dalton Schultz, but with only 27 yards and five catches and a touchdown on 10 targets — numbers marred further by a sequence of events on the final offensive possession that included being pushed backward as he went out of bounds (by rule, that keeps the clock moving) with no timeouts and failing to get both of his feet inbounds on the subsequent catch.
What came thereafter was a gadget play that achieved nothing. And as special as the regular season was and postseason might've been, that's exactly what the Cowboys walk into the offseason with: nothing.
Well, unless you count the mountain of questions they must immediately begin to answer in hopes of figuring out how to finally get over what is now a 28-year hump.