Cowboys make life hard on themselves in shaky win

Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports /

Sloppy as it got, the Dallas Cowboys did manage to get a few things accomplished in yesterday’s uneasily close 27-20 win in Landover, Maryland yesterday. For one, the defense was dominant in the first half. Rookie linebacker Micah Parsons continued to burnish his case for not only defensive rookie of the year, but perhaps defensive player of the year as well. If he manages to pull off that double, he’ll be the first rookie since Lawrence Taylor to do so.

The defense’s effort proved to be the difference in the game when it was all said and done. It was Parsons’ strip sack that led to defensive end Dorance Armstrong’s scoop and score late in the first quarter. That play gave the Cowboys a 17-0 lead, and the rout appeared to be on.

The Dallas Cowboys win a game that got a lot closer than it should have been.

Next, Dallas did manage to win their second consecutive road game and improved their overall record to 9-4. This gives them a three-game lead in the NFC East with four games to go. Stranger things have happened, but the Cowboys are about as close to wrapping up their division and being guaranteed a home playoff game as they can be.

But there always seems to be a “Yeah, but…” with this bunch these days, and yesterday was no different. For as great as the defense was, the offense was equally pedestrian. Sure, they managed to cobble together over 100 yards rushing on the day, but it was on 35 carries at a paltry 3.5 yards per tote. The lack of a viable rushing attack is really exposing the Cowboys as a one-dimensional passing team.

To that end, quarterback Dak Prescott is having an increasingly difficult time reading defenses, and his production is taking a hit because of it. Teams know Dallas can’t run the ball, so they’re dropping into coverage and daring Prescott to beat them. And there wasn’t a personnel excuse yesterday because Dak had a full complement of weapons at his disposal, yet the offense continued to sputter all day.

You can’t help but wonder if he’s still feeling residual effects of the calf injury he suffered against New England. Something about his throwing mechanics are off, which was evident by how many of this throws were high and off target. He also seems to be skittish in the pocket, which speaks to the lack of consistency in his offensive line.

Even then, nothing excuses that late pick six that put Washington squarely back in the game. You simply can’t make that mistake at that juncture of a game. At that moment, it appeared as though the Cowboys were about to completely wet themselves. Credit Randy Gregory for creating yet another strip sack to finally salt the game away.

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In any event, the Cowboys have a lot to work on if they have any designs of making noise in the playoffs. The first half of yesterday’s game was exactly the effort they needed to get a little confidence going, but the second half brought back a lot of the bugaboos that have been plaguing them for weeks now. Good thing they’ve got some time to keep working on them.