The Cowboys title aspirations seemed realistic after their 3-0 start, but Sundays dreadful loss to the previously winless Jets is proof the ship is taking on water
After a 3-0 start to the season, the Dallas Cowboys stumbled in their next two games with losses to the New Orleans Saints and the Green Bay Packers. Yet there was no reason to overreact. After all, their opponents on Sunday were going to be the 0-4 New York Jets and starting quarterback Sam Darnold fresh off a month-long bout with mononucleosis. This would be the perfect chance for Dallas to get back into the win column, right?
Well, as it turns out, not necessarily. Even before the start of Sundays game, there were factors working against the Cowboys. They began without many of their key players, most notably tackles Tyron Smith and Lael Collins and receiver Randall Cobb. During the game itself, quarterback Dak Prescott lost one of his most reliable weapons when wide receiver Amari Cooper exited the game with a quad injury. The Cowboys were playing at some disadvantage and on the road.
Still, no one could have expected that halftime score. The Jets were not just ahead but they were ahead 21-6. Darnold, wearing protective gear to protect his possibly enlarged spleen, had thrown for two touchdowns and LeVeon Bell had rushed for a third. Meanwhile, the only offense the Cowboys were able to muster came courtesy of kicker Brett Maher. Not only were the Cowboys losing, they were on the verge of being blown out.
In the second half, however, the Jets looked more like the team that couldnt sniff a win in their first four attempts. After the break, New York were only able to add a field goal to their total while Ezekiel Elliott was able to rush for a touchdown to make it a one-score game. At this point, it felt like both the Cowboys and the Jets were working toward an outcome where somehow could both lose.
Perhaps it was fitting such a bizarre game would end with a comedy of errors. During the final minutes, officials called penalties on six straight plays, something which helped keep the Cowboys chances alive long enough for them to score a touchdown to pull within 24-22. To the Cowboys credit, theyf worked their way back from a 15-point deficit to a place where they could have forced overtime with a successful two-point conversion. To their detriment, they couldnt pull it off. The Jets held on for their first win of the season as the skidding Cowboys fell to .500.
Dallas opened the season tagged as potential Super Bowl contenders and after their fast start, the hype seemed legitimate. Theres no shame in being beaten by the likes of the Saints or the Packers, even if back-to-back losses are not exactly ideal for a team with championship aspirations. Now that they have lost a third straight game, this time in listless and depressing fashion to a winless team starting a quarterback recovering from a significant illness … well, now its panic time, no matter what the teams injury situation happened to be.
Cowboys fans who are now openly questioning whether the team needs to part ways with head coach Jason Garrett if they want to save the season. Its not a random coincidence that a clip of Garretts players refusing to high-five him during the last few minutes of the fourth quarter immediately went viral after the loss. Owner Jerry Jones responded to the debacle by making the inarguable declaration that Dallas was not one of the NFLs top teams.
What about the legion of Cowboys haters? Well, they have a week to enjoy some good old fashioned schadenfreude. For them, the only thing that would have made this loss funnier would be if it had happened on Joness birthday. Which it totally did.
Stat of the week
Six. Thats the number of turnovers committed by quarterback Jameis Winston in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 37-26 loss to the Carolina Panthers in Sundays London game. Winston began his day by throwing his first interception and, fittingly enough, ended it with his fifth. In between, he also lost a fumble after a strip sack. Winstons six turnovers were the most committed by a player since Ryan Fitzpatrick, then with the New York Jets, threw six interceptions against the Kansas City Chiefs back in 2013. Winston has struggled with taking care of the ball since the Buccaneers took him with the first overall pick in 2015 and his lack of development in that area might force Tampa Bay to move on.
MVP of the week
Stefon Diggs, WR, Vikings. Minnesota improved to 4-2 after routing the Philadelphia Eagles 38-20. A huge reason was that Diggs ended up scoring three touchdowns, picking up 167 yards on seven receptions. To be fair, he couldnt have piled up these numbers if journeyman quarterback Kirk Cousins wasnt playing on a high level as well. Cousins went 22-for-29, accumulating 333 passing yards and an additional touchdown pss to Adam Thielen. At this point in the season, the Vikings very much look like they will be challenging the Green Bay Packers for the NFC North title.
Quote of the week
Today we give thanks to the Lord for our new #Saints. They walked by faith and now we invoke their intercession. Pope Francis, tweeting what would have been, on any other website, a Sunday message to his followers with zero connection to sports
Whoever happens to be tweeting for Pope Francis and lets assume that His Holiness isnt spending all his free time on social media like the rest of us was understandably unaware that using the #Saints hashtag on Twitter would auto-populate the logo for the New Orleans Saints. Thanks to this quirk, it looked for all the world like the pope was suggesting that God would be favoring New Orleans over the Jacksonville Jaguars in their game on Sunday, when the tweet was actually referring to the canonization of five new saints by the Catholic Church. While its not for us to say whether that had anything to do with the Saints beating the Jaguars later that afternoon, it would be blasphemous to say that it could have hurt.
Video of the week
The Seattle Seahawks 32-28 win over the still-struggling Cleveland Browns gave us what could end up being the best endzone celebration of the season. After catching a touchdown pass from Russell Wilson, the Seattle Seahawks Jaron Brown waved over his fellow wide receivers and the group immediately broke out into a fully choreographed dance to NSyncs Bye Bye Bye.
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