It's the second overtime loss for the Cowboys in 2022, but they'll have to learn from it quickly as they have less than a week before the NFC-best Eagles fly into town on Christmas Eve
JACKSONVILLE — Finishing games in 2022 is something the Dallas Cowboys have shown they can do, but they've also shown opportunity for improvement in that category, the latter evidenced in their 40-34 overtime loss to Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Having earned a 14-0 lead before extending it to 17 points in the third (27-10), it was again self-inflicted wounds that put them in a bad spot — time and again. A struggling run defense re-emerged against Travis Etienne and questions at cornerback outside of Trevon Diggs and DaRon Bland became glaring weaknesses, two touchdowns allowed by Kelvin Joseph highlighting the issue.
Speaking after the game, head coach Mike McCarthy readily admitted his "disappointment" in the outcome, which is a given, but also refuses to wallow in the loss against an uber-competitive Jaguars team who also took advantage of key injuries on the Cowboys defense — e.g., Leighton Vander Esch.
"Definitely disappointed," said McCarthy. "... We'll take a look at this on the buses and on the [flight] home because when we touch down, we've gotta turn the page [to the Eagles on Christmas Eve].
"… It was a hell of a football game. We just came out on the wrong side."
The outcome at TIAA Bank Field was eerily similar to what occurred at Lambeau Field in Week 8, when the Cowboys lost in overtime after giving up a 14-point lead to Aaron Rodgers.
These are lessons they'll need to learn from, but quickly, seeing as the playoffs are nearing and in how the division- and conference-leading Eagles prepare to descend upon AT&T Stadium in only six days from now.
"We'll keep working," McCarthy said. "And we'll react properly to this."
What bodes well for the Cowboys is the fact they're one of only two teams who have not suffered a two-game losing streak in 2022, the other being the Eagles. But as they try to chase down Philly, they find their path that much more difficult and now needing help from other teams to make their dream a reality; otherwise, Philly will remain atop the NFC East and possibly the entire NFC when the postseason rolls around.
They knew the Jaguars were dangerous going in, and they found out (the hard way) exactly how dangerous they can be.
All eyes are on the Cowboys to see how they respond to the loss in Jacksonville, and especially given how their season ended in January — some wondering which version of Dallas will show up when it matters most following the conclusion of this regular season; and where they'll be seeded heading into the tournament.
With only three games remaining to fix all that needs fixing, it's nearing the hour of now-or-never.
"We've got to move on, just like any other week," said quarterback Dak Prescott. " … It's about, at this point, building and trying to clean up and learn from our mistakes to make sure we're carrying momentum — week after week — as we move forward and get into the postseason."
To avoid having their Christmas holiday ruined, they'll need to bounce back quickly.