So what do we know about this Dallas Cowboys team heading into Sunday’s must-win match up in Washington?
We know the Cowboys are a bad road team, posting a 2-5 record and a -40 point differential.
We know the Cowboys can’t pressure the passer, posting just three sacks and four QB hits the past two weeks in allowing 82 points and 923 yards of offense to two career backup quarterbacks.
We know the Cowboys can’t get off the field on third down, having allowed opponents to convert to the tune of 53 percent on the money down since the bye week. For an idea of how awful that is, consider the league’s leading offense in third-down efficiency converts at 48 percent.
We know these Cowboys can’t hold a lead, having allowed a league-high 222 points in the second half of games this year.
And we know that the Cowboys’ problems on offense have nothing to do with playcalling and everything to do with execution.
Think about it. With the Cowboys protecting an eroding 5-point lead in the fourth quarter against Green Bay last week, when Romo threw eight times on a 10-play touchdown drive, were you screaming for Dallas to run the ball? No? Why not?
Because they executed.
And it’s a good thing they did. Because just 3:38 later the lead was cut back to 5 points. So what did the Cowboys do? They tried to score again. Why did they try to score? Because they knew their defense can’t stop a runny nose. They knew they had to score to win.
They could either pass or run. Demarco Murray was averaging 7.4 yards per carry. Tony Romo, the best playmaker on the team, at that point was 27 of 45 for 336 yards, 2 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. They were clickin’.
So when the Packers decided to put 10 men in the box, the Cowboys decided to pass. Makes sense to ride a hot quarterback who’s torched defenders all day. But on first down Dez Bryant got behind the defense for a sure touchdown, and Romo missed him. Three plays later, Miles Austin got behind the defense for a sure touchdown, and Romo missed him.
In both cases, the play call put the players on the field in position to succeed, and in both cases the players on the field failed to execute the called play.