‘It sucks’: Cowboys fall to Jets, Lose Third Straight
The Dallas Cowboys started the season with three straight wins. The Cowboys have now lost three straight games and tightened up a race in the NFC East that looked like theirs for the taking not long ago.
Linebacker Jaylon Smith put it succinctly. "It sucks,'' he said, "any time you lose."
The Cowboys’ 24-22 loss to the New York Jets Sunday afternoon served as the culmination of the three-week malaise. Lose to the Saints on the road? OK, the Saints are 5-1. Lose to the Packers at home? Not great, but the Packers are 4-1 entering Monday night against the Lions.
Lose to the winless Jets on the road as a seven-point favorite with a second-year quarterback coming back from mono? Yeah, that’s problematic.
And as this week unfolds in Dallas, with the 3-3 Eagles coming to town for a game that has implications on who will lead the division, there will certainly be plenty of finger-pointing, at least among Cowboys fans.
Like the past two games the Cowboys started slow, yet again, scoring six points on two Brett Maher field goals while falling behind 21-6 at the break due to a listless defensive performance and a questionable fourth-down call in the second quarter, one that saw Dallas fail to convert the first down on a Dak Prescott run. Sure, it was at the Jets 8, so the risk was low for the Cowboys defense. Unless, of course, the Jets run a seam route with Robby Anderson right up the gut of a Cowboys defense that seem unprepared for the possibility.
So the second half, like the past two weeks, was about the Cowboys trying to make up ground. And Dallas nearly did it. The Cowboys defense held the Jets to just three points, including an interception by Dallas corner Jourdan Lewis on a Jets possession that could have led to points. The offense got running back Ezekiel Elliott going again, as he rushed for 105 yards and a touchdown and caught 5 passes for 47 yards. Elliott’s touchdown cut the Jets’ lead to 21-16, but a missed Brett Maher field goal earlier in the half put the Cowboys in a precarious position, once the Jets kicked a field goal to make it 24-16 with 3.27 left.
Yep, the Cowboys needed a touchdown and a two-point conversion just to tie. And, despite a stretch that saw the Jets and Cowboys combine for six straight penalties — calls that, at times, seemed absurd — the Cowboys did it, with Prescott rushing in from 4 yards on a quarterback draw with 47 seconds left.
But the 2-point conversion failed. Prescott’s intended pass to Jason Witten sailed by as Witten protested for a pass interference call that couldn’t be called because it was within five yards of the line of scrimmage.
One failed onside kick later, the Cowboys were 3-3.
Point some fingers? Sure. Head coach Jason Garrett looked like his calm self throughout, especially when the Cowboys were being dragged down by penalties late. The game plan and creativity evident in the first three games under new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore seems to have disappeared. Prescott threw for 277 yards but no touchdowns and didn’t look sharp. The defense gave up more yards to the Jets than any defense this season.
Or, perhaps, the truth lies in the fact the Cowboys’ first three wins came against losing teams and the next three came against two winning teams and against a desperate Jets team that was energized by the return of its starting quarterback?
Or, maybe the Cowboys are just relentlessly banged up.
Entering the game Dallas was without both starting tackles — Tyron Smith (ankle) on the left side and La’el Collins (MCL sprain) on the right side. Plus, wide receiver Randall Cobb missed the game with a back injury.
During the game Prescott took a nasty hit while on the ground in the first quarter and was evaluated for a concussion. He returned on the next possession. Later, he lost his top target, Amari Cooper, after Cooper aggravated a quad injury the Cowboys thought was under control after a week of full practices. Cooper was ruled out at halftime. The Cowboys then lost defensive end Dorance Armstrong to a neck injury, while cornerbacks Byron Jones and Anthony Brown both had hamstring injuries in the fourth quarter.
The chipping away at the Cowboys’ depth mattered against a Jets team that shouldn’t have had enough front-line talent to keep up with Dallas. But the Jets did, and with that they claimed win No. 1.
All the Cowboys did was claim more chaos entering a week and facing an opponent where they hardly need it.
Said owner Jerry Jones when asked about Garrett job security and more: "I haven’t even glanced there in my mind about long-term future. I’m looking in the future as next week against those Eagles."