The Dallas Cowboys are back in the playoffs for the second consecutive season and fourth under quarterback Dak Prescott. Sitting at 11-4 and second in the NFC East on the season, America’s Team is guaranteed to play in at least one postseason game in 2023.
While the Cowboys couldn’t take care of business themselves on Sunday against the Jaguars, the Giants’ win last Sunday night to the Commanders clinched Dallas’ playoff spot.
In that Jacksonville game on Sunday, it was all Cowboys early. They jumped out to a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter and 27-10 after 40 minutes. But Dallas suffered yet another late-game collapse.
Like the Green Bay game, Dallas lost a 17-point lead in the second half and lost in overtime. The last 20 minutes plus overtime against the Jaguars was an all-around bad performance from the Cowboys.
Prescott threw two interceptions, including the game-sealing one in overtime, and the defense gave up 24 points to help the Jaguars’ comeback in regulation.
Yes, they blew a double-digit lead and yes, they might have blown their division chances with the loss. But the loss doesn’t take away from the potential of this team come January. The Cowboys have been in this position before — losing a game they should have won.
And how did they respond?
With a 40-3 win against the then one-loss Vikings. Now, they’ll have another great chance to bounce back after that Jaguars’ loss against a one-loss Eagles team. And they did just that in thrilling fashion.
But bigger than this divisional clash on Christmas Eve is the Cowboys’ chances in the postseason. America’s Team has seen the highs and lows this season and their potential on both offense and defense.
But both sides of the ball need to come to play this postseason if the Cowboys want any chance at making a deep playoff run. So, here are three players who need a strong regular season finish to help carry over in the playoffs.
These 3 Cowboys need to finish 2022 on a high note
3. Michael Gallup
One of the most disappointing players for the Cowboys this season has been Michael Gallup. After signing a five-year, $62.5 million contract in the offseason, Gallup hasn’t lived up to that contract in the slightest so far.
Gallup, who isn’t even one full year removed from the torn ACL he suffered in Week 17 of last year, has been quiet on the offensive end for most of the season. In 11 games in 2022, the 6-foot-1 wideout has 31 catches for 329 yards and three touchdowns on 57 targets.
Those numbers for Gallup are equivalent on a per-game basis to 2.8 catches for 29.9 yards on 5.2 targets, production that isn’t great enough to be a number two behind CeeDee Lamb.
While the fifth-year wide receiver is still recovering from last season’s injury, Gallup has had a hard time getting opening down the field. He ranks 99th in yards per separation (1.30), 111th in total routes won (50) and 101st in route win percentage (29.8%).
As Gallup continues to get more reps under his belt, he should be able to produce like the vertical threat he once was. These last three games are key for the 26-year-old to get more integrated in the offense.
To have another big-time weapon next to Lamb will be big for the Cowboys’ playoff run. But Gallup has to start showing up and getting more targets here down the stretch. He came through with a touchdown against the Eagles, but it was anything but a complete performance.
Need more consistency from No. 13.