Dallas Cowboys

Five things as Dallas Cowboys exposed as championship ‘pretenders’ in loss to Packers

Until further notice, the Dallas Cowboys have officially been exposed as championship frauds.

Never mind the valiant comeback attempt against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.

And don’t even question the heart of quarterback Dak Prescott, who left it all out there for four pulsating quarters at AT&T Stadium.

The final score is all that matters.

Packers 34, Cowboys 24.

Down 31-3 in the third quarter, Prescott and the Cowboys, along with a penalty-getting coach Jason Garrett, rallied to make a game of it to the shock of fans at AT&T Stadium and a national television audience on Fox.

Prescott tossed touchdown passes of 40 and 53 yards to Michael Gallup and Amari Cooper. Running back Ezekiel Elliott had a 2-yard run, and Brett Maher had a 38-yard field.

But a missed 33-yard field goal from Maher with 1:44 left robbed the Cowboys of coming within an onside kick of going for the win.

It looked good, but the bottom line is telling for a Cowboys team that started the season 3-0 against the Giants (2-3), Redskins (0-5) and Dolphins (0-4).

The Cowboys, who were fostering dreams of reaching the Super Bowl for the first time since 1995, are now 3-2, riding a two-game losing streak against the only opponents they have faced with winning records. They lost 12-10 to the Saints (4-1) last Sunday before this debacle, the eighth loss in the last nine match ups against Green Bay.

Prescott completed 27 of 44 passes for a career-high 463 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Cooper had 11 catches for a career-high 226 yards and a touchdown. But his dropped pass in the first quarter that turned into an interception set the tone for the day.

The Cowboys’ 563 yards of total offense were the most in franchise history in a loss.

Running back Aaron Jones had 107 yards and four rushing touchdowns to lead the way for Green Bay.

Is Dak Prescott regressing?

Quarterback Dak Prescott’s outstanding play was one of the league’s biggest stories through the first three games of the season. The Cowboys were 3-0, and he was putting up numbers that had him in early MVP conversations.

It was especially notable since the Cowboys are in negotiating a long-term contract extension with Prescott and his agents.

But that was before the last two outings, losses to the Saints and Packers that may cause some to wonder.

Prescott had no touchdowns and an interception in the 12-10 loss to the Saints before throwing a season-high three picks against the Packers.

The Cowboys trailed 31-3 before he rallied them back to 31-17 early in the fourth quarter. His third interception resulted in a Packers field goal to make it 34-17 and all but killed the Cowboys’ comeback.

Prescott’s overall numbers were spectacular, and give him credit for leading the Cowboys back, but this was not one of his better performances.

The lost first half

The Cowboys trailed 17-0 at halftime to the Green Bay Packers, largely because a slew of mistakes by the offense and a lack of plays on defense. Amari Cooper dropped a pass that hit him both hands and turned into an interception. Quarterback Dak Prescott threw another interception that was a late throw to a crossing Randall Cobb. The defense didn’t tackle and helped drives with penalties. Kicker Brett Maher missed a 54-yard field goal.

The Cowboys offense moved the ball but just couldn’t get anything done. Prescott led the offense in Green Bay territory on four of six first-half possessions. Two ended with interceptions, another with a sack and another with the missed field goal. Cowboys fans booed them as they left the field, and the Packers fans in attendance chanted, “Go Pack Go.”

Run defense and poor tackling

Green Bay running back Aaron Jones had 19 and 21 yards rushing in the Packers’ last two games, against the Eagles and Broncos. The Packers entered Sunday with the 26th ranked rushing offense, averaging 86 yards per game.

So what Jones did to the Cowboys was shocking. His first touchdown run of 18 yards was the longest run by the Packers all season. He added three more touchdown runs, becoming the first Packer to have at least three in a game since 2002.

That he waved goodbye to cornerback Byron Jones on his third score only added insult to the embarrassment. Jones ran untouched for much of the day, and when he didn’t, he broke tackles, ran through tackles and made the Cowboys’ vaunted linebacker corps miss, namely Leighton Vander Esch and Sean Lee.

Jones had 107 yards rushing on the day. His four touchdowns were most ever by one running back against a Cowboys defense in team history.

Jason Garrett loses his cool; Cowboys bail him out

It was a frustrating day for Cowboys all around. They couldn’t get out of their own way, and when they seemingly did, things just went against them.

So it was understandable that they were angry and on edge, down 31-10 late in the third quarter.

A 27-yard pass from Dak Prescott to Amari Cooper was ruled incomplete. Replays showed that Cooper got both feet down, and coach Jason Garrett threw the challenge flag at the feet of side judge Scott Edwards along with some choice words.

The called was overturned on replay, but the Cowboys were penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct on Garrett, making it first-and-25. Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott bailed him out on the next play — a 26-yard completion with :04 left in the third. Elliott finished the drive with a 2-yard run to make the score 31-17 at the 13:52 mark in the fourth quarter.

Up Next

The Cowboys have gone from winning three straight to losing two straight going into next Sunday’s matchup at the winless New York Jets (0-4).

This would seem to be the perfect opponent for the Cowboys to get well against, since their only wins have been against teams with a losing record.

But the Jets have a solid defense, they expect quarterback Sam Darnold to return from injury and confidence is certainly lacking on the Cowboys sideline after their subpar performances on offense the past two games.

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Clarence E. Hill Jr. has covered the Dallas Cowboys as a beat writer/columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram since 1997. That includes just two playoff wins, six coaches and countless controversies from the demise of the dynasty teams of the 1990s through the rollercoaster years of the Tony Romo era until Jason Garrett’s process Cowboys.