Midway through the third quarter, the Dallas Cowboys held a 17-point lead over the Jacksonville Jaguars. But blunders on both sides of the ball lead to a disappointing 40-34 overtime loss for the Cowboys.
Dallas seemed to be in full control and on its way to clinching a playoff spot with a win in Jacksonville. Luckily, the New York Giants defeat of the Washington Commanders on Sunday Night Football scored the Cowboys a spot in the postseason, but that certainly isn’t making Cowboys fans feel any better about their squad.
Not only was the loss to the Jaguars hard to swallow, it put a damper on the highly anticipated rematch with the Philadelphia Eagles on Christmas Eve.
The Cowboys, now 10-4, needed to win out for a chance to repeat as NFC East champions. With Philadelphia holding a 13-1 record, it would take a holiday miracle for Dallas to win the division.
Here are the biggest takeaways from a Cowboys game that was filled with highs, but ultimately ended in crushing defeat.
The Cowboys looked great at times
There were some positives to take away from this game before things went south at the end.
Dallas’ offense has struggled starting games in recent weeks, but that wasn’t the case in Week 15. Dak Prescott was 15/16 (93.7%) passing in the first half for 117 yards and two touchdowns. According to ESPN, Prescott has never had a higher completion percentage at halftime in his career.
The Cowboys were also successful at establishing the run in the first half. Dallas ran 21 times for 91 yards, averaging over four yards per carry. Ezekiel Elliott opened the scoring in the game with a 10-yard touchdown run.
That’s Zeke’s seventh-consecutive game with a score; the longest active streak in the NFL. Elliott joined Emmitt Smith as the only players in franchise history to score touchdowns in seven-straight games.
The defense balled in the first half, too. The Jaguars only managed to score seven points and gained just 152 yards of total offense. Micah Parsons got his 13th sack of the season, tying his total from last year.
The Cowboys looked awful at times
While Dallas was hitting on all cylinders at points in the game, they looked equally terrible to close it out.
The Cowboys offense only put up 13 second half points. They leaned on the run game a lot early, but Cowboys rushers only had 63 yards in the second half and overtime. Prescott’s turnover bug bit again, as he threw two more interceptions on Sunday. Dak has now thrown seven picks in the last four games.
The defensive line had a hard time pressuring Trevor Lawrence, recording zero second half sacks. The Cowboys have dealt with a lot of injuries at CB this season, and the lack of depth reared its ugly head.
Jaguars WR Zay Jones went off for 109 yards and three touchdowns. Jacksonville picked on CB Kelvin Joseph, and it resulted in the second-year player being benched late in the game.
Dallas failed in the clutch
Dallas had multiple opportunities to put the game on ice, but failed.
With under two minutes left and Dallas leading 34-31, the defense forced a turnover and the offense needed one first down to seal the win. On third down, Prescott threw an incompletion which stopped the clock and left Jacksonville with one timeout remaining.
Then, the Jaguars started a drive on its 29 yard line with 1:01 left to play. Lawrence threw for 41 yards and set up a game-tying field goal as time expired.
In overtime, the Cowboys defense did its job and forced a three and out on the opening possession. When the offense was driving, Prescott hit Noah Brown with a perfect pass which would’ve moved the chains for a first down. Instead, Brown mishandled the pass and allowed Jaguars SS Rayshawn Jenkins to snag an interception and return it for a game winning pick-six.
While it’s easy to put the blame on Brown, he also had 49 yards and two touchdowns in the game.
The offense and defense had shots at closing the game out, but both units failed.