Cowboys miscues, Patriots cruise: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
By Richard Ball
Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott was coming off the most prolific two game passing yard total for any quarterback in Cowboys history. The Patriots number one defense would be a challenge on the best of days. The bad weather would make it even tougher for Prescott.
In the early part of the game, especially going into the wind, Prescott had some bad misses with wide open receivers. To his credit, he made an adjustment and added a glove to his throwing hand.
But Prescott didn’t make the adjustment until after he had thrown an interception. Early in the second quarter, the Cowboys were backed up in their own end.
On a third down and two to go from the Dallas 26-yard line, Prescott lined up in the shotgun. The snap from center Travis Frederick was high causing Prescott to corral the ball before he could begin his progressions.
He saw wide receiver Amari Cooper running across the formation from left to right with a step on Patriots top corner Stephon Gilmore. Prescott released the ball with a semi side arm motion from his back foot. As a result, his throw was not able to lead Cooper.
Gilmore would not have been able to make a play had the ball been placed in front of Cooper where only the Cowboys receiver could make a play on the ball. With the Patriots leading 7-0, Gilmore’s interception, which would be the only turnover in the game, set the Pats up with their second short field of the game from the Cowboys 30 yard line.
The Cowboys defense would force a Patriots field goal four plays later. The three points extended the lead to 10-0 which proved to be an insurmountable deficit.
While not meant to be an excuse, the high snap may have caused Prescott to lose his internal clock. The throw to Cooper seemed rushed.
Prescott’s footwork will be something he will be critical of himself when he reviews the video. Based on where his feet were planted, you would have expected the ball to travel to the left side of the play.
He didn’t drive the ball and instead threw off his back foot. Consequently, he didn’t get enough velocity on his pass which might explain why Cooper had to slow down and Gilmore was able to make the interception.
Prescott had a clean pocket on this throw. The closest Pats rusher was at least three yards away. There was more than enough time for Prescott to make a better throw.
Certainly, Prescott will wish he could have the pass back. While no one would know at the time, his mistake, while not the only mistake the Cowboys made early in the game, proved to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.