It was a disastrous game in the desert as the Dallas Cowboys lost to the Arizona Cardinals after not playing their cards right. Dallas lost 28-16 after attempting to come back late in the fourth quarter. Dak Prescott tried giving it to Michael Gallup in the endzone for a score, but it fell flat. Referees were determining if it was a flag, but taking away the penalty led to controversy.
The Cowboys have had their seasonal issues with referees, so it’s no surprise that this was the case. It wasn’t the last of those issues as they were facing adversity heading into the matchup. The heartbreaking loss of Trevon Diggs was only one of them as it rippled the effects of the defense against Arizona. The offense continued to lack as Zack Martin, Tyler Biadaz and Tyron Smith were all out due to injury.
Their presence was missed as Prescott wasn’t given enough time to throw the ball on offense. The defense did not replicate the same energy in their first two games against the Giants and Jets.
What an embarrassing defeat for a team that came in with lofty expectations. There will definitely be some adjustments on offense this week to get the team back on track. Here are three ways why the Cowboys couldn’t get the job done in Arizona.
Surprised they picked up this flag pic.twitter.com/hTkNqXoLCi
— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) September 24, 2023
The Cowboys Didn’t Play Their Cards Right in Arizona
Penalties continue to cause interference
The Cowboys went into the first half with ten penalties, which caused some interference to get the offense’s momentum going. False start penalties are a real killer for the Dallas offense. It made what offense last needed, which was a slow start in the first half. There was a spark in the second half, but it wasn’t enough to answer Arizona’s defense.
Back in 2021, the Dallas Cowboys were the most penalized team in the league. A combined total of 127 penalties were appointed to the team. A scary sight is starting to haunt the Cowboys once again for their past mistakes. It’s not even the last of the issues that caused disruption to the team’s chemistry.
Unprovoked penalties will change the momentum in any game and the Cowboys are paying the price for it.
Turpin's 51-yard return negated by a … penalty. Cowboys lose 61 yards of field position. Instead of being at the Arizona 23, the drive starts at the Dallas 16.
— Todd Archer (@toddarcher) September 24, 2023
The Offensive Line is crumbling
There was no doubt that the Cowboys were coming in with a slippery slope to their offensive line with three of their starters including key star, Zack Martin inactive for the game. Prescott was missing their presence as he had no time in his pocket. This causes him to force the ball quickly down the field which could lead to problems. It leaves the receivers with inadequate time to get in motion to catch the ball.
If the Cowboys want to have success with Prescott in the gun, then the offensive line needs to stay healthy. No matter if their offensive game plan is to get the ball out quickly, there is definitely a need for readjustment. There are guys like CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup, so it’s only efficient for them to go long to gain momentum for the offense. Dak needed a little bit more time in the scramble to find his guys down the field.
Mike McCarthy shares some thoughts following the game, “Obviously we’re disappointed. But this is part of the journey. We need to grow from this experience.”
Poor red zone play
The offense did what they could down the field with three of their starting lineman being out. There were multiple guys getting touches playing in the quick game. The playbook that McCarthy is running for the offense is clearly not working in the red zone. Once they’ve gained momentum all the way through, they lose their juice when reaching the red zone.
This isn’t something new and they’ve dealt with the same problem the past two games this season. Cowboys offense had their chances in the red zone for a touchdown, but it all led to two field goals in the second half.
Dak Prescott took accountability for the Cowboys’ offense red zone issues following the game, “We’ve got to do better as a team, as a unit, myself. I got to make some throws, and maybe use my feet more. Obviously, that’s an area we haven’t been good in these last two weeks. We all have to get back to the drawing board. It starts with me. We didn’t convert in the red zone. That’s the story of this game, period.”
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