Cowboys Wild Card Collapse: Where did it go oh, so wrong?
By Riley Donald
Collapse. An understatement in what we saw from the Dallas Cowboys in their loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the Wild Card game. Collapse, catastrophe, disorganization, crumbling, you name the synonym, and it’s likely fitting for how the 2021-22 season is going to be remembered. It’s the harsh reality of the NFL and one that is going to sting for quite a while.
Even as I type this, I am still speechless and numb about what happened in that Wild Card loss. Even days later, it still hasn’t been processed. That is how much of a collapse the Cowboys provided us yesterday.
Players and coaches lack of accountability makes the loss to the 49ers sting even more for Cowboys fans
What makes this loss even more frustrating than simply being eliminated after a 12-5 regular season, is the lack of accountability coming from the Cowboys. It is disheartening. I can stand getting beat and I can deal with losing to a better team. That isn’t what we saw.
Dak Prescott did not play well. There are no two ways around it. It simply wasn’t good enough. That’s all there is to say. Ezekiel Elliott struggled to get going. Tony Pollard was absent from the game plan for reasons I simply do not understand.
We can dive into the Xs and Os and I can live with guys having a bad day. It may have happened at the worst time possible, but if it was just on-field issues, I can digest it. But pointing fingers and deferring blame elsewhere? That’s never going to sit well with me, as I discussed on Twitter.
The referees DID NOT decide this game. The Cowboys had 14 penalties. You do not win games with that many penalties, let alone many of them being pre-snap penalties. As for the final play that ended the game, the referees followed protocol right down to the letter of the law. They did not steal this game from the Cowboys. The Cowboys gave this away to the 49ers on a platter.
The Cowboys did not get beat by the 49ers. They lost the game.
That is a statement that has always resonated with me. Sometimes you play a clean game, you do things right, and you still get beat on the scoreboard. That’s part of life. It happens. But that isn’t what happened for Dallas. Losing a game is giving it away, not executing, and not performing up to a standard that has been set. That’s exactly what we saw the Cowboys do.
The way in which they gave it away leads to a much larger issue – a cultural issue within the organization. Receiving that many penalties is one of the clearest signs of an undisciplined team. This doesn’t start with Mike McCarthy, who had his fair share of wrongdoings yesterday. It starts all the way at the top with Jerry Jones for allowing the finger-pointing culture to be acceptable. It isn’t a winning culture.
Dak Prescott is normally a very well-spoken, cordial, and level-headed individual. To see him make a statement like this is disappointing. He knows better and has to know that you simply cannot make that statement. I am sure an apology is coming and it will subside, but it really disheartens fans to see things handled this way by the leader of the franchise.
We can argue about the contracts of Dak, Zeke, or anyone else until our faces turn blue. That isn’t why the Cowboys lost. We can criticize referees until next season kicks off. That isn’t why the Cowboys lost.
The one thing we can question is the lack of discipline and lack of an expected standard which were on full display yesterday. That is exactly why the Cowboys lost.
Even as I type this, I am sick to my stomach with a giant pit in it. This team shouldn’t be staring into the dark and we shouldn’t be standing here wondering what the hell went oh, so wrong. Yet here we are.
This one stings. It hurts me. It hurts you. And it has to hurt everyone in that organization. One can only hope this loss is the one that triggers a long, hard look in the mirror that is much needed and long overdue. This offseason is going to be long and probably pretty trying internally. But that may just be exactly what is needed for a sweeping cultural reset.