Dallas Cowboys: Analyzing the collapse in the fourth quarter

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 08: Aaron Rodgers
ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 08: Aaron Rodgers /

The Dallas Cowboys lost to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday after controlling most of the game. Here is an analysis of their performance.

The Dallas Cowboys just suffered another tough defeat at the hands of the Green Bay Packers after they seemingly controlled the first half. This makes the Cowboys second straight home loss after losing to the Los Angeles Rams in Week Five. There are several reasons as to why the team gave up their large lead and had trouble putting up points, reasons we will dive into below.

Aaron Rodgers is going to be Aaron Rodgers

 Look we have all seen this before, Aaron Rodgers comeback stories are common especially if there is a full minute left on the clock.

The Cowboys knew this and tried to manage the situations as best as they could. Rodgers did what he is famous for, scoring last minute touchdowns that end football games.

That final drive, he did basically without Jordy Nelson who seemed to be injured as he stood on the sideline. There were a lot of backbreaking plays on Rodgers final drive, but the one that clearly stands out is his long run that moved the chains and gave the Packers a fresh set of downs.

Rodgers was sacked four times and still, that could not throw him off his game. Any other opponent (except Tom Brady) would have been hard-pressed to do what Rodgers accomplished and typically, the Cowboys would win that game.

Aaron Rodgers was just too good today and Dallas left him with a glimmer of hope, and that was all he needed.

2. The bungled touchdown drive

This one is obvious, the Cowboys coaching staff for some reason allowed starting quarterback, Dak Prescott to throw the football on 2nd and 2 on the 11-yard line. That is a weird call, to say the least, considering the Packers still had a timeout left.

Cowboys star running back, Ezekiel Elliott gained 8 yards on first down and it was assumed that Zeke would carry his team into the end zone, slowly and methodically. Instead what we got was a pass to Dez Bryant in the end zone with over a minute left on the clock that luckily fell incomplete after it bounced out of the waiting arms of a defender.

All Zeke and the Cowboys needed to do was get another first down. The Packers would take their final timeout, Dallas would head back on the field for second down and run the ball again.

The Cowboys also had two timeouts in their back pocket so it was not as if they did not control their own destiny.  On third down the Cowboys could have used the same option play that Dak used to get into the end zone and should have had similar results.

The Cowboys could have also run the ball until they got into the end zone with either Prescott or Elliott. But the one thing you don’t want to do in that situation is stop the clock. Dallas gave Green Bay this game by scoring far too early.

The coaching staff actually did a fantastic job of play calling until the very end of the series.

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3. The defense misses Sean Lee, a lot

Lee is seemingly everywhere when he is healthy and on the field. His vision and ability to find ball carries in a crowd of players and stop them for a loss is incredible. When he finds a target the rest of the defense follows and everyone swarms the ball carrier.

That does not happen when he is not in the lineup. Second-year player Jaylon Smith is being leaned on to carry that weight but we forget he is an actual rookie. Smith missed his entire rookie season with a serious knee injury that should have kept him off the field.

He then worked his way back and was able to play in Week One, and he had a terrific game. Since then he has been relied on more and more and with Lee out Smith is the main player trying to plug up holes in the middle of the defensive line.

His inexperience coupled with the fact that he is still healing and working his way back has made it tough to be effective. Without Lee, NFL teams have been able to run all over the Cowboys and that will not change until Lee comes back.

Running back, Aaron Jones was Green Bay’s X-factor all throughout the game as he gained over 100 yards on the ground.

The positives

The Dallas Cowboys can sack opposing quarterbacks with some relative consistency now that their full lineup of pass rushers are back in rotation. The returning defensive end, David Irving registered two sacks in this contest but he was not the only one.

Both Tyrone Crawford and Demarcus Lawrence also registered sacks for a team total of four on the day. The Cowboys pass rush is finally taking shape and the future has to be promising for such a young defensive unit.

The Cowboys secondary has potentially found their next star in rookie Jourdan Lewis. The former Michigan player was instrumental on several key pass breakups. He did give up a few plays but that is to be expected, he has flashed on tape several times and seems like he is growing the fastest out of any of the players in the Cowboys rookie class.

He was not the only young player showing off his talents today, Dak Prescott did a fine job leading this team against an absolute legend. Dak handled everything with the poise and professionalism that we have grown accustomed too. Most of his interceptions this season are not his fault, it is just a fact.

The pick six today was more on Terrance Williams inability to catch the football. Dez Bryant and even AJ Green have been guilty to do this on occasion (today was probably AJ’s worst day for that) and interceptions are just apart of the game.

Prescott started off the game playing lights out football and truly did seem Tom Brady-esque. Long, calculated drives are what typically wins football games for the Dallas Cowboys and they had an excellent game plan from the start.

Dak would finish the game completing 25 of 36 passing attempts for 251 passing yards and three touchdowns. That is not even including his 37 rushing yards or his rushing touchdown.

His only turnover came off of the previously discussed interception so he played a pretty clean game. It was surprising to see him still throwing the ball that much, but he looked comfortable and almost bested one of the greats.

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Elliott came to play today as he recorded over 100 rushing yards and looked dominant towards the end of the contest. Even though Elliott did not get into the end zone, he should have. When you compare the time of possession stats the Cowboys had over 11 more minutes with the football than Green Bay.

Both Dak and Zeke are trending upward as the schedule begins to lighten up.

Final Thoughts

The Dallas Cowboys have once again lost a tight game at home and their record will drop to 2-3. There is no sugarcoating that losing is not a good feeling, but in both of these losses the team looked nothing like the shell of itself that it had been during the game against the Denver Broncos.

The Cowboys have put up 30 straight points for two weeks in a row and typically that is enough to get the W. The Los Angeles Rams simply wanted it more, and the Cowboys gave Aaron Rodgers the game.

After watching these five games losing is even more frustrating because it is clear that Dallas can compete with any team in the NFL.