Cowboys must learn from mistake filled loss to Jags

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Zay Jones (7) hauls in a reception for a run and score against Dallas Cowboys cornerback Kelvin Joseph (1) during the third quarter of a regular season NFL football matchup Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022 at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville. The Jacksonville Jaguars edged the Dallas Cowboys 40-34 in overtime. [Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union] Jki 121822 Cowboys Jags Cp 64

Cowboys must learn from mistake filled loss to Jags

For most of the season, the Cowboys have been carried by stellar play from their defense.

Time and time again, they have come up with the big play, helping the Cowboys to double-digit wins and putting them one win away from back-to-back 12-win seasons.

Led by Micah Parsons, DeMarcus Lawrence, Jayron Kearse, and Donovan Wilson, they have bailed out the Dallas offense after interceptions from Dak Prescott and fumbles from Prescott, Dalton Schultz, and Noah Brown.

They looked poised to do it again on Sunday afternoon in Jacksonville, but through no fault of their own, watched it slip away in the final minutes of regulation and overtime.

In a game where quarterback play and the defense pushed the Cowboys to a 17-point lead, they ultimately let the team down when needed most.

After cruising to a three-score lead behind Prescott and the offense, the defense couldn’t hold up their end of the deal and keep the Jaguars’ offense in check.

The Cowboys’ vaunted defense was shredded by Trevor Lawrence and the Jags to the tune of 503 yards on 70 snaps. That included a second half, and overtime, of 351 yards on 43 snaps – a whopping 8.16 yards per play. It included three touchdown passes that flipped the game.

After throwing for just 84 yards on nine completions in the first half, Lawrence completed 18 passes for 234 yards and three touchdowns in the second half and overtime.

The three second-half touchdowns came in a span of nine minutes of game action and took the Jaguars from down 27-10 to up 31-27.

The defense gave up four scoring drives in the final 18:57 of regulation – adding a Riley Patterson field goal to go along with the three touchdown passes from Lawrence.

But it wasn’t the first time the Cowboys defense has faltered late in a game this season.

No, remember, they gave up two fourth-quarter touchdown passes to Aaron Rodgers and a 28-yard field goal to Mason Crosby in overtime to lose a game they probably should have won.

And it appeared Sunday they didn’t learn much from that night at Lambeau Field.

Like in Green Bay, the Cowboys’ defense had a chance to save the team and get out of Jacksonville with the win. But the offense took over, the play calling went awry, and the Cowboys coached themselves into a loss.

Up 34-31 with the Jaguars driving for the tying field goal or go-ahead touchdown, the Cowboys were gifted a fumble by Lawrence with 1:28 to play in regulation.

All Dallas had to do was get a first down, and if not, at least make Jacksonville use all three of their timeouts.

Despite runs that went nowhere on first and second down, the Jaguars used two of their three timeouts.

On third down, the Cowboys play call cost them the game.

Instead of running the ball and forcing the Jags to call their final timeout, Dallas’ offensive coordinator Kellen Moore called for a deep ball that head coach Mike McCarthy didn’t veto.

Prescott ran the play, and his pass wasn’t even close to a completion. It sailed too far out of bounds for Noah Brown to catch and drag his feet for what would have been a game-clinching completion.

Instead, the clock stopped, the Jags saved their final timeout, and the Cowboys punted the ball with 1:01 to play in the fourth quarter.

And in very similar fashion to that night in Green Bay, the Cowboys could not stop an offense that had found its rhythm. Ultimately, they would be denied another road victory.

Lawrence worked his magic, driving the Jaguars down the field in six plays – which included an 18-yard throw over the middle to the Cowboys 30 with 0:05 to play. Jacksonville quickly called that saved timeout. It was the only way they would be able to get Riley Patterson on the field to even attempt a tying field goal.

Patterson was money from 48 yards out, the game was headed to overtime, and the Cowboys were eventually headed for their fourth loss of the season.

Great defenses don’t give up 503 yards of offense. They don’t allow teams down 17 points and going nowhere up off the mat to make a comeback.

If they didn’t learn from that night in Green Bay, maybe they will learn from Sunday afternoon in Jacksonville.

They better if they want to win in the playoffs.

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