For the last six weeks, the Dallas Cowboys have played good football; winning football despite having a few bounces go against them in each contest. They managed to overcome and make sure that things went right when it mattered. In their embarrassing 30-16 loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday, the Cowboys had pretty much nothing go right and looked like one of the worst teams in the league for much of the Week 9 contest.
The Cowboys dropped to 6-2 on the year and now will need to regroup to prove this wasn’t anything more than just a bad week at the office. Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly for the Cowboys in a loss that’s difficult to comprehend.
The Good: Micah Parsons
It wasn’t a banner day for the Cowboys on defense, but Parsons shined yet again with 10 tackles and 2.5 sacks. The reigning NFC defensive player of the week continues to make it a runaway race for defensive rookie of the year with yet another double-digit tackle performance. Parsons wasn’t immune to the bad tackling epidemic that infected the entire unit, but he was one of the few who didn’t have that define their performance on Sunday.
Parsons was a small positive on a day where the defense was gashed.
The Bad: Pass defense and Trevon Diggs
It’s been a great start to the season for the second-year cornerback, but he had a rough outing against the Broncos. Diggs had two coverage penalties and was beaten for a 44-yard touchdown by wide receiver Tim Patrick in the first half.
The Broncos had no trouble throwing at Diggs when needed, and except for one pass breakup, it was a struggle for the Alabama product for much of the day.
Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater had an efficient performance, going 19-28 for 249 passing yards and a score. Bridgewater was sacked three times but never seemed rattled while making key third-down downs to burn the Dallas pass defense.
The Ugly: Rush defense
One of Dallas’ consistent weaknesses is their run defense which hasn’t performed well when challenged. The Broncos ran right at the Cowboys and had a huge day.
Running backs Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams ate up the rush defense for 191 yards and a score. The rookie RB Williams ran for 111 yards on just 17 carries and ran through tackles to embarrass the Cowboys.
The angriest of runs, @KyleBrandt
📺: FOX pic.twitter.com/8Q9xTDj6Ho
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) November 7, 2021
The Broncos were missing one of their best offensive linemen heading into the game and lost two more during the win, to make it even more humiliating for the Cowboys.
The Bad: Defensive performance
The Cowboys did a solid job of putting the Denver offense behind the chains, but they couldn’t stop the Broncos from converting in those situations. On five occasions, the Cowboys had a defensive stop or penalty that put the Broncos in longer than 14 yards to go and the offense for the Broncos converted on every one of them, including three times in the first half when the game was close.
Three times on that drive, DAL defense got a tackle for loss on 1st down. On 2nd and long, they gave allowed: run for 11, pass for 25 and 3 yd TD.
— Derek Eagleton (@derekeagleton) November 7, 2021
Teams aren’t going to win many games allowing opponents to convert long down and distances. The Dallas defense allowed the Broncos to convert on eight of their 15 third-down tries, a number that will get a club beat in most games.
The Good: Malik Turner
The seldom used receiver blocked a punt in the third quarter, and then made plays in garbage time, where Turner came away with five catches and two touchdowns.
Turner rarely gets opportunities on offense, and while Dallas decided to leave their starting QB and line in, they did give him some run once things got out of hand. With Michael Gallup close to being back, Turner isn’t expected to get many opportunities moving forward as he returns to WR6 status. This was a positive performance for a young receiver working on his chemistry with Prescott.
The Ugly: Fourth-down offense
The Cowboys remain one of the more aggressive offenses in the league. Head coach Mike McCarthy isn’t scared to go for it with his offense and the weapons at his disposal.
However, the Cowboys were 0-4 in the game, including missing on both of their attempts on their first two possessions. Those failures set the tone for the game and foreshadowed the long day to come for the Cowboys.