The Dallas Cowboys were dominated in every facet of the game in week 15 in Buffalo. Just looking at the box score it is obvious the complete domination that took place on the field Sunday afternoon and there are several things to be concerned about as we enter the final three weeks of the regular season.
But one thing the Bills exposed over four quarters has been brewing all season long, and it threatens to be the demise of this Cowboys team.
That is the inability to be physical and a playmaking frontrunner style of defense that will not work in the playoffs, especially against other top teams in the NFC like the San Francisco 49ers.
Cowboys Won't Win the NFC Without Fixing Defensive Issues
A lot of talk, and at times hype, has surrounded this Cowboys defense, which has shown the ability to shut down offenses in a way we have not seen in a while here in Dallas.
Yet as the season rolls on this defensive group looks more and more like fast starter who, if forced into a physical battle or facing adversity, will roll over and call it quits.
They allowed the Bills offense to put up 31 points in a game where Josh Allen threw for under 100 yards on just 15 attempts. The 266 yards rushing by the Bills is the third most by a team this season and is the second time the Cowboys have given up over 200 yards on the ground this season.
It is obvious at this point that Dallas' D is at its best when they have a 2-plus score lead that forces the opposing offense to abandon the run game, drop back, and become one-dimensional.
This allows Parsons and company to feast on the quarterback making his life a living nightmare which leads to interceptions on the back end. Hence the 40-0, 38-3, and 33-10 blowouts we have seen on a consistent basis.
But when the offense is unable to jump out to a lead, or the defense gets punched in the mouth from the jump? Then they are unable to stop the bleeding.
The hard truth is that when a substantial lead is not grasped early on the Cowboys are going to struggle to win that game.
The fact is the Dallas Cowboys have not won a game this season in which they failed to score first. This is fully attributed to the defense, due to the nature of these losses. In 3 of 4 losses, teams have rushed for at least 170 yards two of those eclipsing 200. Out of 13 interceptions by this defense, one has been when they were trailing or tied, and the other 12 have been when leading. The Cowboys have 30 sacks when leading, just 5 when trailing. In exactly 200 fewer plays ran when trailing or tied rather than winning, the Cowboy's defense has given up the same number of passing touchdowns and double the rushing touchdowns.
It is no secret that the group as a whole has elite playmaking ability. Daron Bland broke the record for pick-sixes in a season, Micah Parsons flies around and is unstoppable rushing the passer, and has forced 21 total turnovers for a turnover differential of +9 which is third in the NFL. But this defense has not shown they can play well when other things around them are not going perfectly. Or when they get punched they have not once punched back all season long.
They are elite playmaking frontrunners and they must be more if they want to reach the franchise's first NFC championship game in 27 years.
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