Former Heavyweight Champion Mike Tyson once famously quipped that “Everyone has a plan ‘till they get punched in the mouth”.
On Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys went into Sports Authority Field at Mile High with a plan and were summarily punched in the mouth. They were punched early, often, and then punched again. And by the time they attempted to begin looking for what was left of their teeth, the scoreboard read 42-14 in favor of their less than gracious host, the Denver Broncos.
From the Cowboys standpoint, calling this game ugly would be tantamount to saying that the Grand Canyon is a hole in the ground.
If there was a way for something to go out of the Cowboys’ favor on Sunday, it did.
The defense that looked so dominant just one week before against the New York Giants could not get off the field, allowing a dreadful 9-15 3rd downs to be converted, including a frustrating 7 in a row at one point. In the process, they made 3rd year QB Trevor Siemian look like an All-Pro with four TD passes.
After giving up just 35 rushing yards in their opener against the Giants, they were gashed for 178 yards on the ground Sunday, 118 of those yards by CJ Anderson.
Meanwhile, QB Dak Prescott completed 30-50 passes. But that was only good for 228 yards and two TDs. He was also intercepted twice, the second of which was a humiliating 103 yard return for a TD by CB Aqib Talib.
The offensive line that has been so often considered the best in the game was bullied by the Broncos’ front seven. Defending rushing champ Ezekiel Elliott was limited to a meager 8 yards on 9 carries, by far his career low. And Prescott was under a relentless stream of pressure all afternoon. He never seemed to have time to find open men down field. That’s possibly because there was no one open, thanks to the intractable coverage of the Broncos’ secondary.
Watching the game, it seemed that the Broncos were playing with 15 men on both sides of the ball. On offense there were always lanes for their runners and open men for Siemian to distribute his passes. On defense they could do no wrong, as virtually everything the Cowboys tried failed miserably.
Being week two, it’s far too early to cue the Requiem for the Cowboys 2017 season. There is a lot of football left to be played.
Perhaps was the type of defeat that may have been desperately needed at this point. Prescott and Elliott walked through their rookie seasons unscathed, leading the Cowboys to a 13-3 record in which there were no one-sided losses.
This team needed to be punched in the mouth to see how they react. If this team is to progress to the next level, they’ll need to show a harder jaw than they did Sunday.
One thing is for sure. Their teeth can’t take too many more Sundays like this.