Without their defensive captain, the Dallas Cowboys fell flat in the second half surrendering 19 unanswered points to let the game slip away.
The Dallas Cowboys came out hot in the first half against the Los Angeles Rams only to falter in the second half, which is very uncharacteristic of this unit. Although the ‘Boys had a shot to get the win in the final drive, the offense fell short. A lot of things went wrong to give the team the loss, but one thing that stuck out like a sore thumb in my eyes was the absence of All-Pro linebacker Sean Lee.
The Cowboys did a ton of things to help the Rams claw their way back in it including two turnovers: one on a muffed punt by rookie Ryan Switzer and the other a late interception thrown by quarterback Dak Prescott. But I have to tip my hat to the Rams because they made the necessary adjustments at halftime, and the Cowboys were stuck in neutral.
The score of the game kind of tells a different story of what really happened. The defense was actually able to hold the Rams’ number one scoring offense to field goals seven times, but they could not get off the field when they needed to.
The offense did the defense no favors in the third quarter by punting three straight drives, but the defense did not look the same without Sean Lee.
With the Dallas pass rush being practically neutralized this game, the ‘Boys needed to slow down running back Todd Gurley in the run game.
The exact opposite happened.
Gurley wasn’t touched until he was about 5 yards past the line of scrimmage on many of his runs. His 53 yard touchdown catch and run was a perfect example of the Cowboys having no clue what hit them. Gurley easily got behind linebacker Damien Wilson and then turned on the burners for an easy score.
I don’t see that happening on Sean Lee’s watch.
The Dallas defense was also unable to contain gadget player Tavon Austin out on the edge. It was as if the defense wasn’t lined up correctly even though everyone in the building knew what the Rams were going to do with Austin in the backfield.
Again, I don’t see that happening with Lee at the helm.
Second year man Jaylon Smith filled in Lee’s spot as play-caller and admirably led the team with 10 total tackles, but Lee’s ability to read the play before the ball is snapped was sorely missed.
Lee is second to none when it comes to reading the offense, not to mention his ability to knife through traffic like butter and blow up plays for big losses.
The Cowboys’ inability to force a turnover, especially in the clutch, also hurt them. I’m not saying Lee would have caused a crucial fumble or interception, but he takes pride in lining his men up where they need to be and makes sure they know their assignments.
That alone greatly increases their chances of causing takeaways or getting the defense off the field at the least. With that element missing, it seemed no one on defense wanted to step up. Without number 50 being on the field, the defense appeared leaderless.
That’s not a knock on anyone on that side of the ball, but the end result shows that the Cowboys desperately missed Lee’s field generalship.