Give the Dallas Cowboys’ defense credit. They didn’t shy away from taking accountability for their play against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday afternoon.
J.J. Wilcox and Sterling Moore admitted they missed tackles on key plays in the secondary. Tyrone Crawford acknowledged the defensive line didn’t get enough pressure on a quarterback — Aaron Rodgers — with limited mobility because of a calf injury.
It’s hard to categorize it as a bad day for the defense, considering that starting middle linebacker Rolando McClain missed most of the game with concussion-like symptoms. But they simply didn’t make stops when they needed them the most.
With the Cowboys leading 21-13 late in the third quarter, the defense gave up consecutive scoring drives of 90 and 80 yards as the Packers grabbed a 26-21 lead midway through the fourth quarter.
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The defense failed to make a late stand, too. The Packers converted a third-and-11 from the Cowboys’ 35 to seal the game coming out of the two-minute warning, running more than four minutes off the clock to end it.
“I feel like we did a good job, but obviously not good enough,” Wilcox said. “We came out with a loss and they got the win. We’ve got to improve.”
The second half showed the most need for improvement. As the game wore on, the pass rush became less and less effective, and Rodgers picked apart the secondary when he needed to.
On the 90-yard scoring drive, the Packers faced a third-and-15 from the Cowboys’ 46. Rodgers proceeded to find Davante Adams for the touchdown pass.
Moore missed on his breakup attempt, and then Wilcox whiffed on his tackle attempt.
“I missed a tackle,” Wilcox said. “It’s as simple as that. It’s a team effort, but I’ve got to step up and make plays. I’ve got to make it.”
Moore, speaking of his day in general against Adams, said: “At the end of the day, he caught what? Some hitches. It’s nothing. Usually I can live with that, but at the end of the day I’ve got to make the tackle.”
On the 80-yard scoring drive, Rodgers had plenty of time in going 7-for-7 for 78 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown pass to tight end Richard Rodgers.
The defense had a final chance to make a stop and give the offense one more chance at the end. But the Packers converted two third-downs and were able to run the final 4:06 off the clock.
The game-sealing play came on third-and-11 when Rodgers somehow completed a tipped 12-yard pass to Randall Cobb, who was covered well by Orlando Scandrick.
“It gets tipped and he still drops a dime,” Scandrick said, shaking his head. “Sharp, man. Precision.”
More than that, though, was the lack of pressure the Cowboys generated on Rodgers late in the game.
“As a D-line, we didn’t rush how we were supposed to rush,” Crawford said. “We didn’t do what we’re supposed to do. Personally, I did not do what I’m supposed to do. I did not get to the quarterback. I’m mad at myself for it, but the game is over and you’ve got to get better.”
Rodgers, injured calf and all, was sacked only once, by rookie DeMarcus Lawrence late in the first half and endured just two quarterback hits all day.
Defensive end Jeremy Mincey forced and recovered a fumble by Rodgers in the first half, as well, but was not credited for a sack because of a bobbled snap.
“It was definitely a frustrating game, man,” Mincey said. “What can you do about it? You can’t change what happened. Can’t change missed calls. Can’t change nothing. We’ve just got to live with it.
“But I know my troops, and they came to fight this year. I’m proud of them. We went out like men, and we did it the right way. We went out fighting.”
Drew Davison, 817-390-7760