The Dallas Cowboys absorbed almost every imaginable slap on Sunday in a 25-3 loss at Washington. But none of them were more stinging - in a physical sense for QB Andy Dalton, and in an emotional sense for coach Mike McCarthy's floundering bunch - than a sequence early in the fourth quarter that sent Dalton exiting from a game Dallas was never even in.
Dalton, the new starting QB with Dak Prescott sidelined for the year, scrambled out of his end zone on a third-and-10 play before sliding, to give himself up, only to be hit while already on the ground by a missile-like Jon Bostic, the Washington linebacker targeting Dalton's head and face.
As Dalton wobbled off the field under assistance from medical personnel - they didn't even make a stop at the blue medical tent - even some of Bostic's teammates were seen shaking their heads in despair over what Bostic had done.
Players on both teams milled about for a bit while Dallas rookie Ben DiNucci entered to quarterback for the Cowboys. Amid the milling, did any member of the Cowboys - so vocal about their "brotherhood'' - noticeably attack Bostic physically? Did any member of the Cowboys attack the offer verbally? Did any member of the Cowboys do anything?
They did not. They took their 25-3 beating quietly and politely, absorbing whatever blows the previously 1-5 WFT chose to distribute.
It occurred to McCarthy after the game that his players - let us repeat, his players - were a disappointment for not taking action.
"We speak all the time about playing for one another, protecting one another,'' the coach said. "It definitely was not the response you would expect.''
Actually, almost halfway into this season, "complacency' is something we've come to expect.
The Cowboys, from McCarthy on down, can continue to pay lip service to how "bonded'' they all are, how wrong it is of the media to suggest there is a "disconnect'' in this brotherhood. But their inaction following the brutalization of their QB speaks volumes about what drives the 2020 Dallas Cowboys.
Nothing drives the 2020 Dallas Cowboys.