What can the Dallas Cowboys take away from Super Bowl LI

Feb 8, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA; General view of Super Bowl LI logo and Lombardi Trophy during press conference at the Moscone Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 8, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA; General view of Super Bowl LI logo and Lombardi Trophy during press conference at the Moscone Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

After watching one of the most epic meltdowns in sports history, there are some lessons to be learned by the Dallas Cowboys from Super Bowl LI.

If you’re anything like me, watching the Super Bowl may have left you with a very specific feeling inside.  It was extremely hard to watch the Atlanta Falcons dominate for so long and not think that the Dallas Cowboys could have done the same thing.

Watching Atlanta refuse to run the ball when it was clearly working so well was even more infuriating.  Falcons running back Devonta Freeman had 75 yards on just 11 carries.  Four of his carries went for nine yards or more.

The entire game, all I could think to myself was “Ezekiel Elliott would go for 200 on these Patriots.”

Now, it is highly likely that Zeke would have been the focus of the Patriots defense.  I’m just not convinced it would have mattered.  The Patriots best defense may have been the 13+ minute halftime show by Lady Gaga.

I would be willing to bet almost anything that Elliott would have had a lot more than eleven carries.  That would especially be true if he was going for 6.2 per carry.

Alas, the Cowboys did not get the opportunity to prove this feeling right.  Instead, we were all witness to one of the, if not the biggest meltdown in sports history.

So, what can the Dallas Cowboys take away from Sunday’s game?  How can they possibly be the ones playing instead of watching next year?

For one, as I mentioned on Sunday, if there is a top free agent target for this team, it should be the Patriots Logan Ryan.

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Aside from one ridiculously tough catch from Julio Jones, Ryan did not allow another reception all game.  At this point, the main concern is that such a performance may have put his price tag in a zone the Cowboys cannot afford.

After earning two championship rings, Ryan might go for an enormous pay day.  As we all know, there is never a shortage of teams willing to overpay for Super Bowl success.

Another takeaway from the game was the horrific play calling near the end which hurt the Falcons almost as their tired defense.

With 4:40 left to go in the game and a seven point lead, the Falcons had 1st and 10 from the 22-yard line.

After one run that did not go anywhere, quarterback Matt Ryan took a sack on second down.  The next play was another drop back resulting in a holding call.  On third down Atlanta threw one more time without a completion.

The Falcons should have ran three times, taking either time off the board or the Patriots stash of time outs.  They would have added three points which almost certainly would have ended the game.

Instead, they barely took a minute off the clock, lost 23 yards and likely the game.

Lastly, as if the Dallas Cowboys needed another reminder after their own playoff debacle, they can remember to “Finish The Fight.”

It’s hard to say but it felt like the Falcons offense stopped being aggressive once they took a 28-3 lead.  From that moment on, Atlanta managed just 44 yards on 16 plays offensively.  On the defensive side, they gave up 31 points on 351 yards from the 8:31 mark in the third quarter.

That is about the furthest thing from finishing the fight you can possibly get.

The hope is that this year’s taste of success creates an unquenchable thirst for guys like Elliott, Dak Prescott and Dez Bryant.  When you have two guys like Dak and Zeke on rookie contracts, the time to get rings is right now when they are cheap.

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Atlanta’s offense let down their defense and vice versa.  They did not have an answer for the body blows the Patriots put on them.  That was similar to what Aaron Rodgers did to the Cowboys defense.

We all know that is the area in which the Cowboys must improve.  Maybe this playoff loss and the Super Bowl will remind those here next year to finally finish the fight.