Dallas came into their annual Thanksgiving game desperately needing a win. Not only to hold off their division nemesis but to prove they could deliver under pressure against a winning team. In front of a sold-out crowd and a nationally televised game, the Cowboys failed to prove either. Now with more questions than answers, Dallas heads to Illinois to take on the 6-6 Chicago Bears.
For the Cowboys on a day where they got out-played and out-coached, there wasn’t much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. At least that’s how it seems if you look at the media, fanbase, and the Cowboys’ locker room after their 26-15 beatdown at the hands of the Buffalo Bills.
Yet, if we go back to the Cowboys’ opening drive, Jerry Jones and the fans find one small silver lining this Thanksgiving. All season the Cowboys have been plagued by slow-starts and mediocre first-quarter play. To open the game, Dallas received the ball and started at their 25-yard line with a Stephen Hauschka touchback. Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott led the team down the field on a 9-play and nearly 6-minute drive, ending with an 8-yard Jason Witten touchdown. Unfortunately, the celebration wouldn’t last long for Witten and the Cowboys.
You wouldn’t know it by looking at the stat sheet, but nearly everything went wrong for Dallas in this game. Dak Prescott was sacked four times, stripped fumble, and had a poor interception in the second-quarter as he was hit and brought down. This was just the beginning of a long line of miscues for Dallas.
Following what seemed to be a crucial third-down stop, Josh Allen picked up his own fumble on fourth-and-one bullying his way to a first down. On the same drive, Buffalo ran a trick play resulting in a touchdown pass from John Brown to Devin Singletary. To top it all off, Brett Maher missed two field-goal attempts and one extra point. It feels like another one-and-done appearance for the Cowboys if they manage to hold onto the NFC East to win the division.
Dallas struggled on the field Thursday throughout the game, but nothing was more atrocious than the play-calling from the sideline. Glancing at the box-score, you’d assume Dallas finally added Elliott back into their game plan. The Ohio product finished the game with 71 rushing yards and 66 receiving yards. Number 21 put up this stat line with only 12 carries, which means he was averaging 5.9 yards per carry.
Knowing this, Kellen Moore and Jason Garret pretty much abandoned Zeke and let Prescott throw the ball 49 times. If Buffalo has a weakness on defense, it’s their run defense. The Bills came into the game ranked 19th in rushing. Dallas used their $90-million All-Pro to jump out to an early lead and should have never looked back. Teams hold players accountable every week. Coaching should be no different. Dallas will now face the Bears in another must-win match-up.
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