Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee wasn’t going to use the depleted secondary as an excuse. Or anything else that might have explained why the Denver Broncos had so much success against the Cowboys in a 42-17 rout on Sunday afternoon.
“It’s unacceptable defensively how we played, how we tackled,” Lee said. “We got dominated. You have to give credit to the Broncos how they played. We’re a better defense. And we’re going to have to get back and show it this week.”
The numbers tell the story on just how bad the Cowboys played. They hadn’t had that many points hung on them since Chicago scored 45 on Dec. 9, 2013.
The Broncos had 26 first downs; went a perfect 8-for-8 on third downs in the first half; rushed for 178 yards, the most the Cowboys have allowed since the Bills rushed for 236 on Dec. 27, 2015; and strung together three scoring drives of at least 75 yards.
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“We did not play up to our standard and obviously they controlled the game really from start to finish,” coach Jason Garrett said. “Third downs were a big part of this game. They had a lot of success converting third downs, staying on the field and keeping drives alive. Conversely, we did not.
“They made some big plays in the game, but more than anything else they were able to sustain drives throughout and we were not.”
The Cowboys found themselves in a difficult situation in the secondary. They were already without arguably their best cornerback, Orlando Scandrick, and lost two more in the first half with Chidobe Awuzie (hamstring) and Nolan Carroll (concussion) exiting early.
That left them with just two healthy corners for much of the game with second-year pro Anthony Brown and rookie Jourdan Lewis, making his NFL debut. Safety Xavier Woods served as the emergency nickel.
Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian certainly took advantage of that. He completed 22 of 32 passes for 231 yards with four touchdowns and one interception. He had a 116.0 passer rating, the fourth time in his young career that he’s surpassed the 100-mark.
“He’s a guy who can make all the throws,” Lee said. “I thought he did an unbelievable job today moving out of pressure and making big throws. You know, the combination of the whole offense, the way they worked today was tough to stop.”
Outside of Siemian, the Broncos had a stout rushing attack led by C.J. Anderson and Jamaal Charles. Anderson finished with 118 yards on 25 carries and a touchdown.
He’s the first running back to top the 100-yard mark on the Cowboys since then-Washington Redskins Alfred Morris did so on Jan. 3, 2016.
“He’s a great back,” Lee said of Anderson. “We knew the type of back he was and we weren’t able to stop him most of the day.”
The Cowboys know they have to regroup and are confident they’ll bounce back against the Cardinals. The Cowboys’ defense had a standout performance against the Giants in the opener, holding them to three points and 35 rushing yards.
The opposite happened against the Broncos.
“I am confident in the group,” Lee said. “We’ve had some tough games before and we’ve always bounced back. We’re the type of guys who love a challenge and respond to tough things like this.”