5 Cowboys who deserve blame for ugly Christmas Eve loss vs Dolphins

Dec 24, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard (20) rushes with
Dec 24, 2023; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard (20) rushes with / Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
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Familiar narratives returned in the Dallas Cowboys 22-19 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Christmas Eve. Ultimately, the Cowboys played well enough to win but they were unable to overcome self-inflicted wounds, questionable refereeing and poor situational coaching.

It was eerily similar to the Cowboys' loss in Philadelphia earlier this season. We even saw multiple goal-line malfunctions by Dallas.

Dak Prescott's touchdown to Brandin Cooks looked to be the game-winning score but the defense didn't come through with a stop. The Dolphins marched down the field and kicked a field goal to win it as time expired after it forced Dallas to burn all of its timeouts.

In hindsight, the Cowboys should've let Miami score to get the ball back, but that's the poor situational coaching we were talking about. As we dwell on the loss, here are five Cowboys who deserve to shoulder most of the blame.

5. TE Peyton Hendershot

Cowboys fans were hopeful that Peyton Hendershot's return from injury would provide a spark to an already-soaring offense. He offers more dynamism at the TE position relative to rookie Luke Schoonmaker, who's extremely raw as a first-year player.

Hendershot, unfortunately, hasn't provided any spark. In two games back before Sunday, he managed one catch for five yards. His first contribution against the Dolphins? A false start penalty on 1st and 10 from midfield.

The Cowboys overcame the penalty to get into the red zone (more on that in a minute), but Hendershot will be hard-pressed for playing time if he continues making mistakes in his limited snaps. He also had a drop in the fourth quarter before Brandin Cooks' go-ahead touchdown.

If nothing else, 2023 undrafted free agent John Stephens Jr. is waiting to take Hendershot's roster spot after a torn ACL upended his promising preseason.