NOTES: Penalty problems arise for Cowboys’ D

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Brandon Wade/AP/Shutterstock (13435805cm) Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons (11) is seen during the second half of an NFL football game against the Washington Commanders, in Arlington, Texas. Dallas won 25-10 Commanders Cowboys Football, Arlington, United States – 02 Oct 2022

NOTES: Penalty problems arise for Cowboys’ D

The Cowboys again found themselves on the wrong side of the officials’ ire on Sunday. They were flagged 10 times for 72 yards in the loss, with the defense having the biggest problems.

“We talked about it in the locker room, just the emotion of the game, and (we) knew that coming in,” Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy said. “(We) have to be better in the discipline penalties.”

The defensive was called for offsides on three separate occasions, with one each for safety Jayron Kearse, defensive tackle Osi Odighizuwa and defensive end Chauncey Golston.

They got tagged with three unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in the second half, with one each for linebacker Micah Parsons, cornerback Trevon Diggs, and Odighizuwa.

“When you play the game with passion and heart, sometimes you might overdo it,” Parsons said. “Football is a game of talking trash and hitting people. I thought it was a little bit late, but I have to be accountable for that and not give up the first down for my team.”

Reserve corner Kelvin Joseph was flagged twice, once for unnecessary roughness and once for holding.

The Cowboys’ offense and special teams were each penalized just once. Defensive end Sam Williams was offside on a kickoff, and tight end Peyton Hendershot was nabbed for illegal motion.

“We just have to take a hard look at the things we have to be much better at,” McCarthy said. “We have to eliminate the discipline penalties. We had way too many discipline penalties throughout the whole game and especially in the fourth quarter. So, that is where my focus is.”

Wide receiver CeeDee Lamb was flagged for an illegal block early in the first quarter, but it was wiped out on offsetting penalties.

“Flags (were the problem); everyone can see it,” Lamb said. “I don’t know how many we had, but it was very detrimental. I kinda started it off with the block in the back, but hey, we could all be better.”

It is the second time this season the Cowboys reached double digits in penalties committed, tying the 10 they committed in the Week 1 loss to Tampa Bay.

“The post-snap (penalties) we can control, whether it’s our attitude or tempo, that combative nature that you get into where you say ‘OK, I’m backing away from this one. I’m not going to get the foul,’” Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said. “So, when they lead to first downs or to a free 15 yards, those are hard to overcome in a drive. So, we will get those shored up for sure.”

Dallas has been penalized 42 times for 322 yards in their six games this season.

“We were beating ourselves,” Parsons said. “We have to do better for (the offense). We let them down (on Sunday).”

Turpin gets Cowboys going

KaVontae Turpin got the Cowboys offense going on Sunday night, but it wasn’t because of a catch the wide receiver made.

With the Cowboys offense lifeless through 28 minutes of action, Turpin ripped off a 63-yard kick-off return after the Eagles had just taken a 20-0 lead.

“Everybody used to call me the comeback kid – when we are down, and stuff, just bring a spark to the team,” Turpin said. “That is what I am here for. That is what I thrive on.”

The return, his first big one for the Cowboys in the regular season, set Dallas up at the Eagles 41 with just 1:47 to play in the second quarter.

Dallas cashed in with a 30-yard Brett Maher field goal. Certainly not the touchdown they wanted, but they were on the board with three points before halftime.

Push for Prescott

Finally, the first real week that Dak Prescott could be back in the starting lineup.

Prescott was seen warming up before the game at Lincoln Financial Field against the Eagles, where he took snaps and made throws with his surgically repaired right hand.

“I thought Dak took the next step, which is what we were looking for,” McCarthy said. “He had a good day … in the Saturday practice he threw two sequences, two racks of six in the 7-on-7, third down and red zone. I thought he did well in that. Then, we pushed it to 50 throws (Sunday), and I thought the guys did a great job for him. But I thought clearly he has taken the next steps. We will get him in there (Monday), see where we are and then have a plan for him Thursday.”

After the Eagles exposed the shortcomings of backup quarterback Cooper Rush on Sunday night, the timing couldn’t be more perfect.

Rush threw for just 283 yards in his last two games as a starter, including a 181-yard outing on Sunday in Philadelphia.

In total, Rush has gone 4-1 since taking over in Week 2. He has completed 90 of 156 passes for 1,020 yards and five touchdowns and the three interceptions he threw against the Eagles.

Rush did exactly what the Cowboys had hoped he would do – keep the ship afloat while waiting for Prescott to return. He did his part.

Now it’s time to hand the reigns back to Prescott, who should be cleared by Tuesday.

“The goal for him is to be part of the normal week,” McCarthy said. “If we get into (the week) and the medicals fully clear him, we will prepare (this) week to play Dak or Cooper.”

Deep passing game M.I.A. under Rush

One thing that should improve when starting quarterback Dak Prescott returns to the lineup is the offense’s willingness to take shots down the field.

With Cooper Rush at quarterback over the last five weeks, the Cowboys have completed just two passes over 30 yards to wide receivers. Both came in the win over the Commanders – a 45-yarder to Noah Brown, the longest completion of the season, and a 30-yard catch by CeeDee Lamb.

“Honestly, I still feel like we have a lot more to grow off of,” Lamb said. “I know for a fact that everyone in this locker room isn’t really satisfied with our second half performance (on Sunday). Granted, it was better than our first (half). Everything we did negatively was self-inflicted.”

Rush’s longest completion during his stretch of starts came on a short pass to running back Tony Pollard that he turned into a 46-yard touchdown against the Bengals.

Noah Brown has the longest reception by a wide receiver this season, hauling in a 45-yard grab against Washington.

In a game the Cowboys fell behind 20-0 in the second quarter, they only completed two passes for more than 20 yards – a 24-yard strike to Lamb, the longest of the game, and a 22-yard grab by rookie tight end Jake Ferguson.

Run defense continues struggle

The Cowboys knew coming into Sunday night’s game with the Eagles that they had to stop the run.

Philadelphia made that goal infinitely harder, with the Run-Pass Option offense that allows quarterback Jalen Hurts to make plays with his legs.

That threat hurt the Cowboys numerous times on Sunday night.

“They did a great job scheming,” Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons said. “They executed better than us.”

When Hurts wasn’t keeping it on the RPO, he was handing it off to Miles Sanders, Kenneth Gainwell or Boston Scott.

Sanders was dynamic, carrying the ball 18 times for 71 yards and one touchdown. Gainwell added 25 yards, Scott had 16 yards on six carries, while Hurts carried the ball nine times for a very surgical 27 yards. Hurts kept the chains moving while picking up three of the teams six successful third downs with his legs.

“We knew we were going to have to stop the run to (beat the Eagles),” McCarthy said. “Clearly tilted to the way we want to play it, and that’s the challenge they give everybody. … I thought our guys did a good job against them.”

The Cowboys, ranked 17th going into Sunday night’s game against the run, gave up a total of 136 yards on the ground to the Eagles. It is the fourth time this year the Cowboys have given up more than 100 yards rushing, after giving up 142 to Washington, 152 to Tampa Bay and 167 yards to the New York Giants.

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