Another year, another disappointing finish for the Dallas Cowboys.
The team’s faithful thought this was their year, especially with Dak Prescott back in peak form after suffering a season-ending injury in 2020.
These players contributed to Dallas’s 12-5 finish, their best record since 2016.
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) January 16, 2022
They also swept all six games against NFC East teams.
But those high hopes went up in smoke after losing to the San Francisco 49ers during Super Wild Card Weekend.
Unfortunately, time was not on their side during their bitter defeat.
So Little Time
The Cowboys had an opportunity to complete a come-from-behind victory with 14 seconds left in the game.
However, Prescott ran the ball himself and consumed much of the game clock.
The 49ers were wise to man the sidelines to prevent the Cowboys from stepping out of bounds to stop the clock.
That’s why Prescott had much space in the middle to operate.
Unfortunately, two things went wrong for the Cowboys.
— NFL (@NFL) January 17, 2022
First, Prescott ran farther than he should have, and sliding a few seconds earlier could have guaranteed some time left.
Second, the Cowboys tried to run a play without looking for the umpire.
As a result, time expired before they could run a desperation play to the end zone.
Per NFL rules, the umpire must touch the ball first before the offense can run a play.
If Prescott dashed to the umpire after sliding and handed him the ball, they might have a few seconds left.
This is an awful play call and awful execution for @dallascowboys
— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) January 17, 2022
Instead, the game clock ran out to secure a victory for the 49ers.
It’s a bizarre ending to an exciting playoff game, but there’s no controversy surrounding the final sequence because it’s within the rules.
Sadly, the Cowboys shot themselves in the foot to hand the Niners this victory on a silver platter.
The Cowboys Showed Up Late
It’s like the Cowboys didn’t realize that they were in a “win or go home” situation until the second half.
They allowed the 49ers to mount a 23-7 lead and offered little resistance.
The Cowboys had no answers to the Niners’ run game which finished with 169 rushing yards.
The score could have been worse if two of four Robbie Gould field goals became touchdowns.
Likewise, the Cowboys committed 14 penalties, the most in Cowboys postseason history.
Cowboys QB Dak Prescott: “The fans felt the same way as us. I guess that’s why the refs took off and got out of there so fast. I think everybody is upset with the way this thing played out.” https://t.co/39p4x4itkE pic.twitter.com/bj1nHCuIfu
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) January 17, 2022
Some of those infractions nullified what could have been significant gains for Dallas.
Instead, their mistakes prevented them from winning.
But on a macro view, the 49ers are tough to beat when they’re complete, especially on defense.
The Cowboys’ 12-5 record is a mirage because they only won five games against teams with winning records.
Two of those wins were against the Los Angeles Chargers and the New Orleans Saints, which did not make the playoffs.
— Jane Slater (@SlaterNFL) January 17, 2022
Finally, their defense is pedestrian, even though they had the best scoring offense and the most yards all season.
Combine all those elements, and the Cowboys were a recipe for disaster.
Sadly, it’s a defeat that they might not recover from for a long time.