After a promising 2-0 start to the season, the Dallas Cowboys‘ combination of penalties and red-zone issues resulted in a 28-16 upset loss to the previously winless Arizona Cardinals on Sunday in Glendale, AZ.
With this being the first time the Cowboys had to play from behind, they could not find a way to claw back into the game.
The Penalties Were Atrocious for the Cowboys
The Cowboys had 13 penalties for 107 yards, which sounds just as unbelievable as it was to watch it unfold in real-time.
The last time the Cowboys had 13 penalties in a game was week 12 of last season against the Giants. That was the most from the team all season in 2022 in one game. Goes without saying, but this needs to be addressed this week.
— Jess Nevarez (@JessNevarez_) September 24, 2023
According to Fox’s broadcast, Dallas had 10 penalties in the first half alone, the most by an NFC team in 11 years. The Cowboys had 10 TOTAL penalties in their first two games of the season.
These penalties came when the Cowboys were trying to build up momentum in all three phases of the game.
A lot of things didn’t go right for the Cowboys on Sunday, but playing undisciplined didn’t help them. If anything, it only put them behind in a game they could have gotten ahead in.
The Red Zone Is a Weakness for the Offense
The red-zone issues continue to plague the Cowboys’ offense, as they converted on only one of five trips.
This is the game in which production wasn’t just needed for improvement but to win, and it didn’t happen.
Brandon Aubrey had three field goals for nine of the Cowboys’ 16 points a week after kicking five in the win over the Giants.
Rico Dowdle was the only player to find the end zone for the Cowboys — his first career touchdown with the team.
No stopping @ricodowdle on his way to paydirt 💰
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) September 24, 2023
When the team was in the end zone, passes were deflected, and the run was stuffed. The Cowboys’ final chance to score ended with Dak Prescott’s first interception of the season
Although the team was missing Tyler Biadasz, Zack Martin, and Tyron Smith, their return won’t solve the ongoing red-zone issues.
It’s hard to pinpoint why it continues to happen. But Mike McCarthy has his work cut out for him as both the play-caller and head coach to get it figured out before the team’s schedule gets more difficult.
Is the Run Defense Still an Issue?
One of the Cowboys’ biggest issues last season was the run defense.
The Cardinals ran all over the Cowboys defense, which gave us all flashbacks of the 2022 season.
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Although the defense allowed only 154 rushing yards in the first two games, the Cardinals had a total of 222 for the day, 182 of which came in the first half alone, including a 45-yard TD run by wideout Rondale Moore in the second quarter that gave Arizona a 12-point lead.
The lack of big plays rolled out the red carpet for the Cardinals to pull off the upset. Micah Parsons only had one sack during the game, which came in the third quarter.
Sheeeesh Micah 😱
— NFL (@NFL) September 24, 2023
Overall, it was a sloppy showing by the defense, as they had missed tackles and didn’t execute at any aspect of their game.
This could be the team feeling the loss of Trevon Diggs in the backfield and being the playmaker who was finding the ball in the first two weeks.
But the team must improve in all areas of the game ahead of Week 4.
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