By Calvin Watkins
7:30 PM on Oct 13, 2019
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Happy birthday.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones turned 77 years old Sunday and his trip to the East Coast wasn’t a good one. The Cowboys suffered an embarrassing 24-22 loss to the New York Jets, a team that was winless coming into the game. You could question the play-calling of Kellen Moore, the defensive issues and maybe coach Jason Garrett.
But the Cowboys (3-3) are in the midst of a three-game losing streak and are tied for first place in the NFC East with the Eagles (3-3). The teams play Sunday night at AT&T Stadium.
The final series
The Cowboys made a frantic comeback to even get to within two points after Dak Prescott scored on a draw play. But when the Cowboys needed a two-point conversion try, Prescott’s throw to Jason Witten was at his feet for an incompletion, more-or-less ending the contest. Prescott got pressure up the middle by Jets safety Jamal Adams and Witten complained about getting held by safety Marcus Maye on the route. But it doesn’t matter; the Cowboys shouldn’t be in this situation.
Elliott’s strong game
If you’re wondering why the Cowboys paid Ezekiel Elliott, look no further than Sunday afternoon. Elliott rushed 28 times for 105 yards with a five-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. When the Cowboys were mounting a comeback, it was Elliott who was really the only productive member of the offense. This is why you take care of Elliott with the largest contract for a running back in NFL history. He wasn’t perfect -- he had a drop -- but playing a game without his two starting tackles and getting 100-plus yards tells you something about him.
The 4th-and-2 call
This game really turned in the second quarter when a questionable play-call by Kellen Moore hurt the Cowboys. With the Cowboys trailing 7-3, the Cowboys were facing a third-and-1 from the Jets 6. Elliott was stopped for a loss and the Cowboys decided to go for it. OK, fine. But on the fourth-down play, the Cowboys called what looked like a quarterback draw with Dak Prescott. Standing beside him was Elliott, so maybe it was supposed to be an option play or maybe a pitch to Elliott? But Prescott was stopped for a 1-yard loss. When the Jets got the ball, Robby Anderson ran a stop-and-go route, shaking cornerback Chidobe Awuzie, turning it into a 92-yard touchdown. It made the score 14-3 Jets and the momentum was clearly with the home team.
The Cowboys entered the Jets game minus three starters: Tyron Smith, La’el Collins and Randall Cobb. They left MetLife Stadium missing Amari Cooper, Dorance Armstrong, Anthony Brown and Byron Jones to injuries. Cooper was hurt in the first quarter with a quad injury and didn’t return. Cooper was dealing with the injury during the week of practice but indicated it was fine. Cooper took a hard hit on his first reception of the day and came up a little gimpy. Leg injuries to Jones and Brown limited the secondary to Jourdan Lewis and C.J. Goodwin getting snaps in the second half on passing downs. Armstrong suffered a neck injury in the first half and didn’t return and it put a pause on the rotation of linemen. Early in the game, the Cowboys utilized Armstrong with Kerry Hyder at end but after Armstrong was hurt, they stuck with starters Robert Quinn and DeMarcus Lawrence for a majority of the second half.
The Cowboys had five dropped passes in the game, an ungodly amount for any team. It all started when Witten dropped a pass when he was wide open in the middle of the field. Michael Gallup suffered two drops, and Elliott and Blake Jarwin also dropped passes.