Could a Focus on Penalties Be the Dallas Cowboys’ Answer to a Crucial Road Win?

With the Dallas Cowboys needing to build confidence on the road, what area of emphasis should be made to minimize self-inflicted wounds?

The Dallas Cowboys are going into Week 11 for their sixth road game of the season, only having won three of those matchups.

Head coach Mike McCarthy says his philosophy has been to win all of the team’s home games, which they’ve done, and currently have the longest active home win streak in the NFL with 12 straight wins.

However, the Cowboys have four road games left this season, one of which is this week at Bank of America Stadium against the Panthers.

So how can the Cowboys ensure a win on the road against a team they are a 10.5-point favorite over?

Will Penalties Be an Issue on Sunday?

One of the most significant areas of focus should be minimizing self-inflicted wounds. It will be vital for this matchup, especially in the form of pre-snap penalties.

So far this season, the Cowboys have 69 total penalties, 45 of which have been drawn during road games. 

The team’s top three penalized games have all come during road games, with the highly penalized game being Week 3 against the Cardinals (13 for 107 yards). 

The Cowboys’ top penalties called this season have been:

  • Offensive holding (12)
  • Defensive offsides (11)
  • Defensive holding (11)
  • False start (10)

Although the Cowboys need to establish a dominant and physical presence, they must find the balance and fine line during road games.

MORE: Dallas Cowboys Depth Chart

Clay Martin is the referee for his week. His crew has officiated eight games for 81 total penalties, the least amount of any official so far this season.

However, the Cowboys can’t let up because of this since Martin’s crew’s most called penalties are offensive holding and false starts.

When asked about winning on the road, McCarthy emphasized that penalties were statistically the most significant improvement area.

The head coach discussed how road environments impose a different challenge for the team, especially with crowd noise at the start of the game.

However, this might not be an issue for this game, especially as Panthers head coach Frank Reich said the team was practicing their silent count in preparation for the Cowboys fans that could attend the game on Sunday.

If all works in the Cowboys’ favor, they won’t have to rely on the silent count themselves and can lower the chances of the costly penalties that have contributed to the team’s three losses.

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