Listless, rhythmless Cowboys suffer humiliating 30-16 home loss to Broncos

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Adversity has finally found the 2021 Dallas Cowboys. For the first time since early in the 2020 campaign, head coach Mike McCarthy is going to have to convince his troops they are indeed better, much better, than the performance they put on the field.

Dallas returned to the supposedly-friendly confines of AT&T Stadium Sunday, where they averaged 40 points a contest so far this season, but they could not achieve that feat. Nor 30. Nor 20. They didn’t even get past 10 until under one minute left in the game. In fact, Dallas was shutout until garbage time when trailing 30-0, finally got something going. Dallas fell, 30-16, to drop to 6-2 on the season at the halfway mark.

Winners of six straight on the heels of as moral victory an opening-season loss can be, the fanbase and organization has been flying high for the last two month. Through various injuries, COVID protocol absences and more, it seemed that nothing could derail the Cowboys’ full-steam ahead efforts in Mike McCarthy’s second season. With their Sunday night win over the Minnesota Vikings, with backup, no-start Cooper Rush at the helm, Dallas appeared capable of winning in any environment.

Welcome to Week 9.

The Dallas Cowboys welcomed in the Denver Broncos, a team they face only every four years but hadn’t defeated since the Super Bowl campaign of 1995. That streak will unfortunately continue as the Broncos embarrassed Dallas through all three phases.

Quarterback Dak Prescott missed several open receivers throughout the contest. The passing targets dropped several catchable passes. Terence Steele and the offensive line didn’t do a great job of protection either as Tyron Smith missed his first game of the season. The team entered Broncos’ territory on the opening kickoff, but couldn’t convert a fourth-down conversion. They made it to the Broncos’ 20 on the next drive, but again failed to convert.

They didn’t make it back into Broncos’ territory again until under six minutes remaining in the game.

The defense was run over, run around and ran past on numerous occasions making Javonte Williams and Tim Patrick into stars for the game. The team ran for almost 200 yards on the game and Teddy Bridgewater and company converted eight of 15 third downs after Dallas held Minnesota to 1-for-13 just a week ago. As a result, Denver had four different scoring drives of at least 10 plays.

Even the special teams couldn’t get things done, muffing a punt, failing to down one and then making the weirdest mistake of all. To start the second half, Dallas got a three and out and blocked a punt, only Nahshon Wright touched it and because the Broncos recovered beyond the line-to-go, they kept possession then marched down the field for a field goal.

It was that kind of game.

Dallas entered the contest as almost 10-point favorites, leading the league in total offense and third in scoring. Their defense was supposed to be up and coming.

All of those things were shredded on Sunday against the Broncos.

For the first time this season, Dallas will have to go through a week of practice with doubt in their minds. What they tried to do, didn’t work. Their halftime adjustments made no difference. Kellen Moore and Dan Quinn didn’t coordinate a winning effort and now they will have to figure out what went wrong.

Throughout the season, Dallas hasn’t played perfectly, giving the coaching staff things to harp on despite racking up victories. Now they’ll have to figure out how to get out of a funk before their next game.