Machota: Cowboys ‘shocked’ by blowout loss to Broncos - ‘They whooped us in every aspect’

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Nov 7, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) is sacked in the second quarter by Denver Broncos linebacker Baron Browning (56) at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

By Jon Machota Nov 7, 2021

ARLINGTON, Texas — There is no individual play or series that needs to be broken down. Almost the entire game was inexcusable. The Cowboys entered Sunday riding a six-game winning streak. They were facing a Denver Broncos team that had lost four of its last five and had just traded one of the greatest players in franchise history, edge rusher Von Miller.

This game shouldn’t have been close. And it wasn’t.

The Broncos outplayed the Cowboys in every area. In the end, Denver won 30-16 in front of 93,503 people at AT&T Stadium. A large portion of that crowd was wearing orange.

“Frankly, we were out-coached, we were outplayed, all the way through,” Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy said. “This is the first time I’ve felt clearly our energy didn’t exceed our opponent, and that’s disappointing. They came in aggressively. If you look at the way their defense played us from the start, they challenged our receivers, they challenged the box, they clearly were going to take away the run and put it on the passing game. And we didn’t respond to that.

“Their run offense was significant, particularly runs after contact. These are basics, things I felt like we were improving on.”

A common postgame response was that Denver was the more physical team. That particularly showed up in Dallas’ run defense, which was arguably the biggest concern Sunday. The Broncos rushed for 190 yards, 70 more than any other team has managed against Dallas this season. The effort looked similar to last year, when the Cowboys finished 31st in run defense (158.8 yards per game) and allowed more than 180 yards five times.

Most will blame the offense because it was also alarmingly poor. Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott struggled throughout in his first game back after having two weeks off because of a right calf strain. He assured reporters after the game that his calf is healed and did not contribute in any way to his disappointing play.

But he also noted that it was the worst performance the offense has had since losing at Indianapolis in 2018. The Cowboys entered that game 8-5, riding a five-game winning streak. They then lost 23-0. Prescott threw for only 206 yards. He threw for 232 yards, two touchdowns and an interception Sunday, but most was done in garbage time.

Dallas trailed 6-0 after the first quarter Sunday, 16-0 at halftime and 27-0 with 11:18 left in the fourth quarter.

“Definitely shocked,” Prescott said. “They whooped us in every aspect. They beat us. That’s not something you ever think about or ever envision happening. But it’s something we’ll learn from, and we’ll learn from every aspect of it — offense, defense, special teams, situationally. We’ve just got to be better. We’ve got to play a cleaner game. We’ve got to start faster in a noon game like this. They did a better job at it. They got on us and got on us fast. We were playing from behind and we weren’t able to do anything.”

It’s unlikely many teams will be able to duplicate this performance against Dallas’ loaded offense. Not only was Prescott off, but star wide receivers Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb were among a group that dropped several catchable passes. Denver’s goal of taking away the run meant giving Dallas’ wide receivers more single coverage than they’re used to seeing. Lamb finished with two catches on nine targets for 23 yards. Cooper caught two of his five targets for 37 yards.

“Teams just haven’t played them the right way,” Broncos coach Vic Fangio said of the Cowboys. “They are super talented, and they may score 35 points the rest of the season in every game because they’re really good. They’ve got talent at every position. How many times did we come close to sacking Prescott today and we don’t get him down? That’s talent. That’s not luck, that’s talent. They’re a great team, and I don’t expect them to lose many more games.”

Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater said he thought the Denver defense did a good job of forcing Prescott to change the launch point of his throws. The Cowboys quarterback was sacked only twice, but he never looked comfortable. That doesn’t mean Prescott believes the Broncos revealed the blueprint of how to shut down Dallas’ offense.

“I hope teams play us like this for the rest of the year, to be honest,” he said. “This was just not a great game by us. This is not who we normally are.

“I think Coach said it great in the locker room: ‘This isn’t tape you just throw away. We learn a lot from it and move forward.’ We’ve got to be accountable for our mistakes and not playing up to our standard and our expectations. We’ll make sure we get it cleaned up and get better.”

What it looked like early Sunday afternoon was a Cowboys team riding high on Super Bowl aspirations playing a Broncos team that Dallas didn’t need its best against to beat. By the time Denver had landed several blows, the Cowboys started pressing to get back on track.

“It’s not going to be a good day tomorrow in that film room, by no means, on any level,” Cowboys safety Jayron Kearse said, “whether it’s the front line, the secondary, anything. It’s not going to be a fun film to look at for the simple fact that they ran the ball down our throats, we couldn’t get anything going on offense. We just all took turns, took turns being poor.

“It was bad just to hear (all of the Denver fans) chanting, ‘Broncos,’ in our home stadium. It goes with everything about how embarrassing it was today.”

Injury updates

Ezekiel Elliott injured his right knee in the second quarter, causing him to limp off the field following a tackle. But the Cowboys running back never went to the blue medical tent and returned to the game shortly after. He wrapped a heating pad around his knee when he wasn’t in the game. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he’s not concerned about the injury.

“I thought the way he finished the game,” Jones said, “just his intensity, the way he was running in the game eases my mind on a going-forward basis. And the trainers didn’t give any indication there was an issue going forward.”

Bad week of practice

Several Cowboys mentioned it not being a great week of practice last week at The Star. Some will blame that for Sunday’s uninspiring performance, but as McCarthy has pointed out in the past, there have been plenty of times when teams he has coached played well after a poor week of practice and other times when they have played poorly after an outstanding week of practice.

“It could have been better,” Lamb said. “We didn’t have the best week of practice, and it showed, obviously, today. It all falls back on the players. At the end of the day, we need to have the attack mindset, the same mindset as Week 1. We didn’t, and it came back to bite us. Most definitely, we’re using this as motivation.”

Dak in the final minutes

Why was Prescott still on the field for the last two series, taking hits and running the ball? Backup quarterback Cooper Rush never appeared close to going into the game. Prescott wasn’t interested in watching from the bench. He connected on touchdown passes to Malik Turner of 4 and 5 yards in the final 4:08.

“I mean, there was game left out there to be played,” Prescott said. “I don’t think it ever crossed my mind that I was coming out of the game. I think if somebody would have tried to make that decision, I would have told them I wasn’t. Yeah, we needed to get something going. We needed to get some energy, some momentum. We needed to show our fight, our resiliency, something that’s won us a lot of games.

“When you’re getting beat like that, you’ve got to show your character. I think that’s where the path starts, with all of us staying in the game and fighting to the end and trying to get some momentum or something going just to take from this game. Yeah, I never thought of coming out of that (game).”
 

Cowboysrock55

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I know it was garbage time but I think Dak needed it to get something going before the game was over. He was so out of the groove I'm glad he was able to complete some passes before the day was over and maybe get a little ready so the next game isn't a rust filled disaster too.
 

p1_

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I look forward to the re-write of that fucked up punt rule. The single most idiotic ruling Ive ever seen.
 

UncleMilti

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I look forward to the re-write of that fucked up punt rule. The single most idiotic ruling Ive ever seen.
Yeah I didn’t know the rule, and honestly it makes zero sense. I could see if Dallas had POSSESSION of the blocked kick, and then lost it. But to simply touch it and the Broncos get it and its automatically a first down? That’s crazy.
 

boozeman

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The game was basically a shutout, that is how worthless the two TDs to Turner were.
 
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Cowboysrock55

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Yeah I didn’t know the rule, and honestly it makes zero sense. I could see if Dallas had POSSESSION of the blocked kick, and then lost it. But to simply touch it and the Broncos get it and its automatically a first down? That’s crazy.
Literally punishes you for blocking a punt if it happens to make it past the line of scrimmage. Just a silly rule. It makes no logical sense.
 

UncleMilti

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Still not the reason we lost though.
No, but you could see the air go out of the team, even more so when they looked flat all day except for the opening kick off.
Meatball gets a lions share of the blame here. 2 stupid fucking 4th down calls that gave the Broncos huge momentum.
He’ll lose us a game in the playoffs. Watch and see.
 

Shiningstar

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this loss is as much for the players, the staff as well as the fans.


in case anyone was thinking, no we arent SB ready, not yet.


no, we arent world beaters,

yes some of the staff still sucks.
 

bleedsblue42021117

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I know it was garbage time but I think Dak needed it to get something going before the game was over. He was so out of the groove I'm glad he was able to complete some passes before the day was over and maybe get a little ready so the next game isn't a rust filled disaster too.
I agree was risk and MM getting little heat for leaving him in but that offense needed some true live practice after that display of ugliness. Should help next Sunday...
 

Shiningstar

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it totally demoralized them. Make a game changing play only to see it backfire. Whoosh, air leaving balloon.

i would assume the paychecks would remind them that one play isnt the reason to give up.
 
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ravidubey

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Yeah I didn’t know the rule, and honestly it makes zero sense. I could see if Dallas had POSSESSION of the blocked kick, and then lost it. But to simply touch it and the Broncos get it and its automatically a first down? That’s crazy.
Stupid rule or not, you've got to know your job!

Wright is a rookie, but he has to know you can't touch that ball unless you are sure you are going to possess it. That's a fucking muff in every way.

It's a simple rule and makes perfect sense. This is no different than a whiffed kick traveling only a few yards that's muffed. You touch it past the LOS, you make it live! It could have been 4th down and 50 yards to go-- muff the catch you make the ball live. This is literally every fucking kick.

The Broncos knew the fucking rule and had no trouble grabbing the ball and advancing it.

So why are why we fucking batting it around??
 

ZeroClub

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Why was Prescott still on the field for the last two series, taking hits and running the ball? Backup quarterback Cooper Rush never appeared close to going into the game. Prescott wasn’t interested in watching from the bench. He connected on touchdown passes to Malik Turner of 4 and 5 yards in the final 4:08.
Those two meaningless TDs to Turner will pad the red-zone efficiency statistics for people who are preoccupied with that statistic.
 

bleedsblue42021117

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Those two meaningless TDs to Turner will pad the red-zone efficiency statistics for people who are preoccupied with that statistic.
they needed the work IMO was the right call to get little more time with prescott playing..was risk for sure but it can pay off next week..you cant get work like that in practice..he was scrambling, moving around the pocket, running for yards and throwing on the run..
 

ZeroClub

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Stupid rule or not, you've got to know your job!

Wright is a rookie, but he has to know you can't touch that ball unless you are sure you are going to possess it.

It's a simple rule and makes perfect sense. This is no different than a whiffed kick traveling only a few yards. You touch it past the LOS, you make it live! This is literally every fucking kick.

The Broncos knew the fucking rule and had no trouble grabbing the ball and advancing it.

Why are why we fucking batting it around??
It was a big error, for sure.

Against the Vikings, a Dallas player (Wilson, maybe?) made a grab for the ball on a punt return play. Although the attempted grab wasn't dangerous, given that a Viking had first touched it, it was kind of odd. You don't see that often in a football game and it seemed pointless.
I don't know if there's a connection between yesterday's mistake and the Vikings play (e.g., some sort of attitude instilled by the coach?). I'm quick to criticize Fassel, even when unwarranted.
 

ZeroClub

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they needed the work IMO was the right call to get little more time with prescott playing..was risk for sure but it can pay off next week..you cant get work like that in practice..he was scrambling, moving around the pocket, running for yards and throwing on the run..
Yes, the game practice was helpful ... but the scores themselves were meaningless (pure garbage time).
 

Simpleton

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Stupid rule or not, you've got to know your job!

Wright is a rookie, but he has to know you can't touch that ball unless you are sure you are going to possess it. That's a fucking muff in every way.

It's a simple rule and makes perfect sense. This is no different than a whiffed kick traveling only a few yards that's muffed. You touch it past the LOS, you make it live! It could have been 4th down and 50 yards to go-- muff the catch you make the ball live. This is literally every fucking kick.

The Broncos knew the fucking rule and had no trouble grabbing the ball and advancing it.

So why are why we fucking batting it around??
Yea, the rule makes sense, sucked that it went against us but I see way worse application of rules every single game every single week.
 

bleedsblue42021117

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Yes, the game practice was helpful ... but the scores themselves were meaningless (pure garbage time).
we aren't talking final score or stats ..simply he stayed in for extra work, thats it, anyone cares about that term garbage stats or scores needs to realize its needles sto worry about..all qbs get the same opportunities and no asterisks next to those particular plays..

it evens out over a FULL season, which BTW we are 6-2 with 9 left..not jumping off a cliff right now..

the goal is the playoffs. Yesterdays game didnt change any playoff positioning's at all.
 
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