By Alex Al-Kazzaz
The return of Dak Prescott was supposed to be great for the Dallas Cowboys. On paper, it was supposed to provide the offense with a much-needed power boost. Clearly, that's not quite what took place on the gridiron. The Dallas Cowboys emerged victorious with a final score of 24-6 but there are talking points to be addressed, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
What went wrong with the Cowboys' offense? Quite frankly issues range from the ridiculous and atrocious play-calling that led to offensive drives sputtering and lack of accurate consistency and productivity. For Dallas to square off against the worst defense in the league in terms of total offensive yards allowed per game(428.6) along with allowing an average of 167.6 rushing yards per game(32nd in NFL) and not being able to take advantage is unacceptable.
In the first half, Detroit overall looked very good and had a 6-3 lead. Right before halftime, Dallas was driving but the Lions' defense was able to prevent Dallas from scoring by forcing and recovering a fumble near the goal line. No doubt, Detroit's defense was surprisingly very good against Dallas.
After being continuously denied in the first half by the Detroit defense, the Cowboys finally found the endzone after forcing a turnover on the opening drive of the second half. Dallas went on to mess around and waste two scoring opportunities until taking a 17-6 lead with less than three minutes to go. Immediately after that, they went on to score again to make it 24-6. It's worth pointing out that Dallas' two late touchdowns were off of turnovers forced by the resilient defense. So the offense finally came around, but overall, the mishaps from the majority of the time are and remain a serious cause for concern.
Prescott finished 19-for-25 for 207 yards and one touchdown. Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott combined for 140 rushing yards on 27 carries. CeeDee Lamb caught four catches for 70 yards. The offense was fortunate to see Dalton Schultz finally have another productive game as he finished with five catches for 49 yards. Michael Gallup was targeted twice but did not have a catch.
Overall, the offense managed six yards per play. However, the serious lack of consistency primarily due to the play-calling speaks for itself. To say that the offense has been underperforming is clearly an understatement, and while the play-calling is not fully to blame, the offensive coordinator's scheme is where it begins. The point is that while the offensive has some good moments, there are too many bad ones. Offensive execution and production need to improve, but until the playcalling changes for the better, the offensive concerns won't disappear.
Detroit's defense deserves massive praise for their efforts in this one. For most of the game, they kept the Cowboys intact by taking advantage of Dallas' offensive woes. It's unfortunate the Lions' offense could provide their defense with some breathing room. A total of five turnovers were committed by the Lions' offense with three in the fourth quarter was impossible for Detroit to recover from. And Dallas put the ball game away.
It's no surprise that the Dallas defense was respectfully challenged by the Detroit offense. The Lions came into this game with a unique and respectable offense. Detroit lost Amon-Ra St. Brown early in the game due to a concussion, but that didn't seem to slow them down. The likes of Kalif Raymond, Brock Wright, and T.J. Hockenson kept Detroit's offense in check, but ultimately, the five offensive turnovers did serious damage.
At one point Detroit threatened to score when Wright made a spectacular catch and was short of the endzone by just a few inches. On the very next play, Detroit fumbled and Dallas recovered. It's clear that Detroit tried its hardest and was very unlucky. But at the same time, Dallas' defense credit for continuing to fight.
Dallas has one game left to play before their bye week. They take on the Chicago Bears and despite their win against Detroit, the Cowboys are still in third place in their division. With the New York Giants improving to 6-1, the pressure is mounting up for the Cowboys. Philadelphia very likely won't relinquish first place in the division at all this season, so an NFC East playoff spot is to be contested by Dallas and New York. So Dallas has to step it up.