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(Photo by Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports)

Overreacting to the Dallas Cowboys’ Week 9 Loss to Denver

Dallas Cowboys
Dak Prescott and the entire Dallas Cowboys team played awful in Week 9 of NFL games as they lost to the Denver Broncos 30-16 at home. (image from Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports)

Overreacting to the Dallas Cowboys’ 30-16 Loss to the Denver Broncos

Stephen A. Smith is somewhere in America today grinning from ear to ear. He has not been this happy since Week 1 of the NFL season. Why? Well, that’s because the Dallas Cowboys, his least favorite franchise in all of sports, went out and got romped by the Denver Broncos 30-16 at home in Week 9 – one of the biggest storylines in the NFL this week. Dallas came into the contest 6-1, leading the NFC East by a healthy three games thanks to Philadelphia, New York, and Washington combining for a total of seven wins. After Sunday’s crapshoot, they still lead by three, but losing to a team that is last place in their respective division certainly raises some eyebrows, especially when Dallas has come up short compared to its expectations for years. Is this Cowboys team truly different than any other in recent seasons? Never mind the fact that they just ended an impressive six-game win streak; let’s overreact to the Cowboys’ midseason blunder to Denver.

The Dallas Cowboys have not made it past the Divisional round of the NFL playoffs since 1995, which also happens to be their last Super Bowl victory. Sure, they won three out of four from ’92-’95, but we are in a new era of football – one that does not care what you did 26 years ago. If “America’s Team” want to end the drought this year, it should probably stop losing to .500, out-of-conference opponents at home when heavily favored.

The Cowboys were 10-point favorites Sunday against the 4-4 Denver Broncos yet found themselves down 30-0 in the fourth quarter. They were completely dominated on both sides of the football, and Denver made them look like the team with the .500 record. Dallas’s high-flying offense, an offense that was averaging 454.9 total yards per game (1st in the NFL), was held to just 290 total yards on 10 drives. The cherry on top is that earlier in the week, Denver traded away their best defensive player in franchise history, Von Miller, and were still able to play great defense.

It wasn’t just the offense that was bad, however. The Cowboys came into the 2021 season with some question marks on defense, but had been relatively decent so far, including the 6th-best rushing yards per game allowed. Denver ran all over Dallas, to the extent of 190 yards, and they got 111 of them from rookie Javonte Williams, his first career 100+ rushing yard game. What other stats did Dallas get dominated in? Besides losing the turnover battle 2-0, going 0-4 on fourth downs, and having nine less total first downs, the most eye-popping number is time of possession. Denver possessed the pigskin for 41:12 compared to Dallas’s 18:48, and Dallas only ran 16 less plays. This had all the ingredients of a blowout, and the final score is not entirely reflective of how one-sided this game was. Dallas only made it somewhat close because of two touchdowns and successful two-point conversions inside the final 4:08 of the ballgame.

Dak Prescott has been getting insane amounts of love nationwide this season, and most of it has been for good reason. After his ugly ankle injury that caused him to miss most of the 2020 season, he has played well. Very well. In only seven games, he has amassed over 2,000 yards, a healthy pace to put him right amongst the league leaders come the end of the regular season. Right now, he is 5th in passing yards per game averaging 292.1. But even with some growing talks about MVP candidacy, Prescott was outperformed by Teddy Bridgewater, who was able to throw for 17 more yards on 11 less attempts and was even more efficient by completing 67.9% of his throws compared to Dak’s 48.7%. If we are going to overreact to Dak when he plays well, we have to overreact to the Cowboys losing when he plays poorly, right? It is a little concerning that he just so happened to play his worst game of the season after missing the previous week with a calf strain, though he said he “felt fine.”

Simply put, the Dallas Cowboys got away from their identity Sunday. Dak Prescott handed off the ball just 14 times all day, which makes zero sense at all, because Dallas was 4th in the NFL averaging 31.1 rushing attempts each game heading into Week 9. Ezekiel Elliott has looked amazing this year when he hasn’t been limping. He is averaging 4.9 yards a carry, the second-best of his career behind his incredible rookie campaign where he rushed for a league leading 1,631 yards on 5.1 yards per carry. The Cowboys also have Tony Pollard, an extremely effective and talented backup running back. Barring a season-ending injury, he will set career highs in both rushing and receiving, but when Zeke is battling some discomfort and Pollard touches the ball just five times on offense, how can the Cowboys expect to win?

The Overreaction

So, here’s the overreaction: The 2021 Dallas Cowboys are no different than any other Cowboys team in recent years. It reminds me a lot of 2016. They went 13-3 in the regular but lost in their one and only playoff game at home to Green Bay. They cannot be trusted. Dak cannot be trusted. Zeke cannot be trusted (because of his health). There is no reason why Dallas shouldn’t be able to win 13 or 14 regular season games and then make a deep playoff run. They have one of the most talented rosters in the NFL. Unfortunately, they lose too many games like Week 9 versus Denver. When other highly talented teams such as the Cardinals, Buccaneers, and Rams are in the same conference, it’s making me wonder how the Cowboys are going to be able to are going to go on said run.

The Appropriate Reaction

The appropriate reaction would be: Seriously? That’s a bad loss, but this team is still good. There is a reason this team is 6-2. Dak and the Cowboys have earned all of our respect this season, and they are going to win the division – unless one of the other three teams can pull off a miracle. They will make the playoffs, and the talent on offense alone should be enough to win a game or two. Most power rankings you will see this week won’t drop them out of the top five or six, and I probably wouldn’t feel comfortable doing so, either. Still, it’s always a little fun watching the Cowboys lose.

Dak Prescott quote from Erin Walsh’s article from

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