STALLED OUT IN SAN FRAN: 5 observations from the Cowboys’ loss to the 49ers

Jan 22, 2023; Santa Clara, California, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) runs during the second quarter of a NFC divisional round game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

STALLED OUT IN SAN FRAN: 5 observations from the Cowboys’ loss to the 49ers

The Dallas Cowboys offense could muster just a dozen points, not nearly enough to earn a road playoff win at San Francisco, falling to the 49ers 19-12 on Sunday afternoon at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. The Cowboys’ season ends at the hands of the 49ers for a second-straight season.

Prescott not good enough

When the Cowboys needed their franchise quarterback to make plays, he could not on Sunday afternoon in the Cowboys 19-12 loss to San Francisco.

Prescott finished the game with 23 completions on 37 throws for 206 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown to Dalton Schultz to give Dallas an early 6-3 lead.

The Cowboys were only 4 of 13 on third downs, and Prescott turned the ball over twice. Both were interceptions and turned into points for the 49ers.

It was another multi-interception game for Prescott.

Prescott was intercepted on his fifth throw of the night, which turned into the first points of the game for the 49ers – a 26-yard field goal after the Dallas defense stopped San Francisco. It was Prescott’s first INT of the playoffs, but his 16th of the season.

Prescott threw his second pick of the first half with just 75 seconds to play before halftime, the Cowboys driving deep in San Francisco territory, and the game tied at 6-6. The 49ers turned it into a six-point swing when Robbie Gould connected on a 50-yard FG at the halftime buzzer.

He could have thrown a third interception, but a pass that hit 49ers Fred Warner right in the chest was dropped.

After throwing for 81 yards and a touchdown, on 12 of 16 passing in the first half, Prescott completed just 11 of 21 passes for 125 yards and no touchdowns in the final 30 minutes.

Big day for Lamb

Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb gave the San Francisco defense trouble all day.

The Cowboys top wide receiver hauled in 10 passes for 117 yards, the best performance in the postseason for the third year wideout.

The Cowboys went to him on short routes, intermediate routes and deep routes, including one that produced a 46-yard catch in traffic that drew a flag for pass interference.

No other Cowboys receiver caught more than five passes, which were hauled in by tight end Dalton Schultz.

The other Cowboys receivers accounted for just three catches – two from Noah Brown and one from T.Y. Hilton, for 32 yards.

Cowboys ground attack falters

The Cowboys running game produced just 76 yards on Sunday, with 22 of those yards coming on four scrambles by Dak Prescott.

The Cowboys one-two punch of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard could muster just 48 yards on 16 carries.

Pollard had 22 yards late in the first half but was injured when he was tackled awkwardly and got his leg caught up underneath him and a 49ers defender.

Elliott carried the load for the rest of the way, gaining just 17 yards on six carries.

The Cowboys finished averaging just 3.45 yards per carry, while the 49ers found their running game in the second half, averaging 4.09 yards per tote while racking up 113 yards rushing in the game.

Tale of two halves on defense

The Cowboys looked like the best defense in the NFL, which they were early in the season, during the first half of the Sunday’s NFL Divisional playoff game against San Francisco. Holding the 49ers to just nine points on three Robbie Gould field goals.

The Cowboys held the 49ers to 141 total yards, and just 27 yards on the ground, including just eight yards for Christian McCaffrey on five carries.

The second half was a different story, as San Francisco rolled up another 180 yards to finish with 312 total yards. But it was a bobbling 31-yard catch by tight end George Kittle in the fourth quarter and

Dallas did get to Brock Purdy for two sacks, but the rookie ended with 214 yards passing and no turnovers, while making just enough plays to lead the 49ers to the win.

The 49ers running game got going in the second half, gaining 113 yards and keeping the chains moving against a Cowboys’ defense needing a stop.

The Cowboys held San Francisco to just 10 points in the second half, but it was enough for the 49ers to hold on for the victory.

Mixed results for Maher

After struggling in the first half, Cowboys kicker Brett Maher finally got on track with a 25-yard field goal early in the third quarter. He added a 43-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, but the

Maher finished the game making two of his three kicks.
After scoring a touchdown early in the second quarter to take their first lead of the game, the Cowboys trotted Maher out for the extra point. It was blocked by Samson Ebukam who, while being blocked by Zack Martin, got his hand up and deflected the kick that appeared to be going wide left. It is the second straight week Maher started the game with a missed PAT.

Then, late in the first half and the game tied 6-6, McCarthy chose to go for it on fourth down and four from the San Francisco 35. It was clearly in Maher’s range, but the Cowboys never hesitated in the call to go for it. Prescott picked up the first down on a 9-yard scramble.

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