Cow­boys showed up late to play­off

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - THE SECOND PAGE - MAC EN­GEL

LOS AN­GE­LES — Mid­way through the sec­ond quar­ter, a Dal­las Cow­boys of­fi­cial asked any­one who had ears, “Think we maybe can play some de­fense tonight?”

No need to sin­gle out the de­fense. Save for the punter, no one else from the Cow­boys showed up.

Or by the time they did, the night was too far gone.

On the day news broke from the NFL Net­work that Cow­boys head Coach Ja­son Garrett was likely to be of­fered a con­tract ex­ten­sion, both he and his team col­lec­tively failed to show up on time for a play­off game.

The Cow­boys’ sea­son is over after an im­pres­sively unin­spired start in a 30-22 loss against the LA Rams in the NFC di­vi­sional round.

Of Garrett’s many losses in his ca­reer as head coach, Satur­day night should rank as one of the worst. They may have been a seven-point un­der­dog, and the bet­ter team did win, but the Cow­boys were gelded in the first half.

No mem­ber of this team should be spared from ire for his per­for­mance on Satur­day night, but the coach­ing staff was soundly de­feated by Sean McVay and Wade Phillips.

A pa­thetic of­fense aside, this game is on the “strength” of the Cow­boys: The de­fense. The “Hot Boyz” de­fense played like lit­tle boys against grown men.

Don’t buy the fi­nal score. The Cow­boys had their chances, but they were thumped and abused.

Of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Scott Line­han may lose his job over Satur­day night’s laugh­able game. The Cow­boys talked all week about need­ing to use quar­ter­back Dak Prescott as a run­ner on oc­ca­sion; al­though Dak had a de­cent pass­ing game, only with 5:41 re­main­ing in the fourth quar­ter did he fi­nally carry the ball.

It is here we are ob­li­gated to say that twice did the Cow­boys have a chance to tie it, even after fall­ing be­hind 23-7 in the third quar­ter.

Yes, they cut it to 23-15 and faced a fourth-and-1 in their own ter­ri­tory. Line­han called a play that was to use the strength of the Cow­boys against the strength of the Rams. Run­ning against the mid­dle of the Rams de­fen­sive line is never a good idea.

Run­ning back Ezekiel El­liott ran it into a whole bunch of big butts, and that was that. To win the Cow­boys were go­ing to have to be a Zeke team, but the Rams sold out to stop him and it worked for most of the night.

Zeke ran it 20 times for 47 yards.

But … again, we are ob­li­gated to men­tion that Dak ‘n’ friends cut it to 30-22 with 2:11 re­main­ing, and had all three time­outs with the two minute warn­ing.

And, of course, they had the Rams fac­ing a third-and -7 with just un­der two min­utes when they let quar­ter­back Jared Goff seal the game with a first-down run. Jared Goff beat the Cow­boys with his legs and not his arm.

All you need to know about the Cow­boys de­fense is the Rams had two run­ning backs run for more than 100 yards. Al­low­ing 100 yards to Rams’ All-Pro run­ning back Todd Gur­ley is no sin. He ran for 115 yards.

But the Cow­boys also al­lowed C.J. An­der­son, who looks about one Happy Meal away from be­ing big enough to play left guard, to run for more than 100 yards, too.

The last time An­der­son ran for more than 100 yards was 2016. On Satur­day night, he went for 123 yards.

It is the first time the Cow­boys have al­lowed two rush­ers to run for more than 100 yards in a play­off game. So that’s fun.

The bot­tom line is by the time Garrett’s team com­peted, it was too late.

The last game of the Cow­boys’ sea­son looked pretty much like the first few games back in Septem­ber when the of­fense was trash and the de­fense was on the field too long.

The master scheme for the Cow­boys to reach the NFC ti­tle game proved plau­si­ble as it was ex­e­cuted won­der­fully by the L.A. Rams.

The Rams won the line of scrim­mage, ran the ball when they wanted, and owned the time of pos­ses­sion. That’s what the Cow­boys do.

Those of us who watch and fol­low the Cow­boys all drank the sil­ver and blue Kool-Aid and de­serve what we get: We were dumb to think the Cow­boys were good enough to beat the Rams. On any field.

We were dumb enough to buy the man­u­fac­tured hype that some­how the present day Cow­boys, with Dak-Zeke-Amari were some­how close to Troy-Em­mitt-Michael.

The Cow­boys’ fi­nale showed they are a pretty good lit­tle foot­ball team, who fin­ished right where they should: With an­other play­off loss short of the NFC ti­tle game.

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