Dallas Cowboys’ Season Ending


Billy Bain

Dallas Cowboys team in a group huddle near the end zone. Cowboys Huddle by Billy Bain is licensed under CC BY 2.0

After finishing the regular season 12-5 and winning in the Wild Card round of the NFL playoffs, the Dallas Cowboys’ season would end just like last season against the San Francisco 49ers. Even though the offense was one of the best coming into the game, the Cowboys only ended up scoring twelve points against one of the best defenses in the league.

Upon entering the playoffs, the Dallas Cowboys’ offense was one of the best, averaging 32.3 points per game, which was the highest in the league. They had two stars at running back in Ezekiel Elliot and Tony Pollard, along with CeeDee Lamb becoming a top target in the passing game. The Cowboys were able to make it past the Vikings, Eagles, and Giants to finish the season. Additionally, the win over the Vikings also showed off the Cowboys’ efficient defense, holding a top 10 offense to just three points on the road. Freshman Jason Sarkodie is impressed with the way the offense has played throughout the regular season.

“The Cowboys’ offense has good running backs like Ezekiel Elliot. He has been good for the past three to four years. They also have CeeDee Lamb, who has also shown that he’s a good wide receiver for the team. I think the running game has made them good offensively because they also have another upcoming star running back in Tony Pollard, and he is very good,” said Sarkodie.

Over the course of the regular season, quarterback Dak Prescott was one of the league’s most consistent passers. Prescott has led the team to the playoffs multiple times and has a 61-35 record as a starter. However, throughout his career at Dallas, he has been a disappointment in the playoffs with a 2-4 record in the playoffs. This has caused many fans to speculate whether his days at Dallas are numbered. Rick Wickel, Algebra II teacher, believes that the Cowboys could find other solutions at the quarterback position besides trading Prescott.

“Well, Jerry Jones makes money and Jerry Jones does his things, so it doesn’t matter what we like. We’re going to have Dak. I think we got to invest in a sports psychiatrist. It looks like Dak is empty-eyed sometimes, but he’s definitely got the skills and some games are just like lights out. But yeah, Dak is here, so we got to invest in a sports psychiatrist to keep his focus on the game,” said Wickel.

In the Wild Card round against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the entire team on both sides of the ball looked to be a super bowl contender. But a new sign of concern emerged at the kicking position after Kicker Brett Maher missed four consecutive extra points. His inconsistency continued in the 49ers game after some players managed to take advantage of Maher’s pregame warmups by getting in his line of sight as he practiced some field goals. Brandon Do, Sophomore, says that despite the Cowboys dominance, Maher’s performance against the Buccaneers brought a bad energy to the 49ers game.

“I think the coaching was all on point. If we watch the games before they lost to the 49ers, they were doing well, so they just need some more practice and time before they make it further. I do think the kicking problem brought a bad energy to the 49ers game because his performance in the game before was a disappointment and a lot of the talks during the week was about him,” said Do.

Once again, this season has become a norm of the Dallas Cowboys for the last 25 years, having a tremendous season only for it to end early in the playoffs. In fact, the Cowboys haven’t won a Divisional Round playoff game since 1995, which was the last time they made it to the Super Bowl. They have currently lost seven consecutive Divisional Round games. 

In the 49ers game, the offense struggled getting the ball down the field with the run, and Prescott’s two interceptions allowed the 49ers to cash in two field goals off the turnovers. Wickel is proud of the team, but he understands that their mistakes are game-changing in these big games.

“I think we’re a great team. I think they could do it, but it’s just one of those things where the further you make, it’s all about the team that makes the least amount of mistakes, and we make mistakes. Whether if it’s last year in penalties or this year in turnovers, the mistakes always happen and other teams are playing clean football,” said Wickel. “I didn’t blame Brett. You gotta go with the players that got you there. It is what it is. I think the coaching let him down and sometimes you got to bring people up. Just like when Dak comes over there and makes a mistake, you don’t get on to him. You Just show him how to bring his confidence back up because it is what it is. He’s going to be the kicker.”

The NFC East division had three teams make it to the playoffs, let alone the Divisional round, this year with the New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys, and Philadelphia Eagles. This is the first time since 1997 where three teams from the same division had made it to the second round of the playoffs.

In order for the Cowboys to reload for the next season and compete with the division, it will have to start with the NFL draft starting on April 27th. Although the Cowboys had a productive passing attack, they also lacked depth at the Wide Receiver position after trading four-time Pro Bowler Amari Cooper and losing Cedrick Wilson last offseason. However, Tyler Watson, senior, thinks that the offensive line will also need some improvements over the offseason.

“The rebuilding process is more of the offense that they need to work on and getting that offensive line revamped so it won’t be broken at times. On the offensive line, it is mostly on the exterior that needs work because in a few of the games, the middle will hold up but it seems that the outside gets overpowered and it can sometimes end in a sack. In order to compete next year at a high level, I feel like it starts at the draft. It depends on who we pick and how we look into the players that we are going to pick. From there, it’s just team coordination,” said Watson.

All in all, it seems as though “America’s Team” has once again been a disappointment to its fanbase and those who predicted them to make a deep run in the postseason.  If the Cowboys hope to find the success they had in the 1990s, then they will have to start rebuilding their team and finding the solutions to their inconsistency.