ARLINGTON, Texas – The Cowboys entered this game like a set of tires.
They had a little wear on them but still plenty of tread as we get ready for the long haul. They were working together as one and, most importantly, they were rolling!
The Cowboys were rolling … until they weren't.
Call the Broncos a pesky nail in the road, but for whatever the reason, the Cowboys came out completely "flat" for this game. Other than a kickoff return to midfield by Tony Pollard, the Cowboys were flat on offense and flat on defense.
And we all know what happens when you don't fix a flat. Eventually it leads to a blowout and that's exactly what happened Sunday.
That was nice of Malik Turner to come in and catch a couple of late touchdowns to prevent a shutout. But we all know what happened – the Broncos completely kicked the Cowboys' asses up and down the field.
They dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Dak Prescott played one of his worst games that we've seen in quite some time, looking every bit the "rusty" quarterback we didn't expect to see. If he was going to be rusty, then he would've been in Week 1 against Tampa Bay when he hadn't played in 10 months. He came out firing in that game and so we didn't even think twice about him sitting out two weeks and coming back looking like anything but the MVP-candidate that he's become so far this year.
But Dak was off his game. And many times he was off target on his throws. And then when he wasn't, when he actually stood in the pocket and made the great throw over the middle, his receivers didn't help him out. Dropped passes by Tony Pollard, Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb all proved to be pivotal to the momentum of this game.
And let's not just put this on the offense. The defense was just as bad, maybe even worse. I say worse because of what guys like Jayron Kearse and Randy Gregory said afterwards, admitting they got "out-hit" and "out-physicaled" throughout the game. For a team to be 6-1, winners of six straight games, and come into a contest like this against a 4-4 team, there's no reason to be out-hit and out-hustled.
Getting beat is one thing if it comes down to execution. But another team that had more desire and more will, that's not acceptable.
How many times did we see Denver's running backs just running through tackles and making people miss. Moving the pile another 5-6 yards.
What is crazy to me is how many times Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was able to convert first downs after being so far behind the chains. The Cowboys recorded 10 tackles for loss and still lost!
Any way you slice this game, nothing was working for the Cowboys. They couldn't block, they couldn't run, they couldn't throw, catch and tackle. Man, they couldn't even block a punt correctly. And especially they couldn't do those things at the same time.
This was a team that hasn't scored less than 20 points this year through the first seven games. And they went into the final five minutes of play down 30-0, held without a point. They were flirting with the first home shutout since losing 24-0 to the Eagles back in 1991.
Now, let's put something in perspective with that season. The Cowboys were dominated in that game, getting sacked 11 times. But by the end of the year, Dallas rebounded to finish 11-5 and made the playoffs after beating those same Eagles on the road late in the season.
The point? It's one game, and as bad as it looked out here Sunday, it only counts once in the standings.
So what happens now? You change these tires, get a new set and start driving again.
And you better make sure you don't come out flat again next week when the Falcons come to town.