Noah Brown should have caught the ball in overtime.
Dak Prescott’s throw in tight coverage was intentionally low. The ball hit Brown in his hands. The catch puts the Cowboys within 15 yards of a potential game winning field goal by Brett Maher.
If you needed another reason why the Dallas Cowboys signed TY Hilton last week and are still hoping to add receiver Odell Beckham, look no further than the crucial game in Sunday’s 40-34 overtime loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Quarterback Dak Prescott’s pass on third and fourth bounced off a Browns’ falling hand into the waiting arms of Jaguars safety Rayshawn Jenkins.
Jenkins then ran through a depressed Cowboys defense core and reached the end zone, ending their four-game winning streak and raising renewed questions about whether this team had what it takes to win it all.
Brown, a former 2016 sixth-round draft pick who survived the NFL as a special teams demon and personal protector, shouldn’t be the one charged with crucial catches as endgame.
Regardless he had a 13-yard catch in the fourth quarter from Prescott to put the Cowboys back in the lead. It shouldn’t be Brown’s turn. He didn’t have to be the one Prescott was casting for the final possession of Bylaws either.
But lead receiver CeeDee Lamb, who had seven catches for 126 yards, was a triple team and Michael Gallup was a no-show in the game with one catch for two yards.
Prescott wanted to give the Browns a chance to play third and ten when running the ball and using the clock would have been a better option.
It would have forced the Jaguars to use a timeout, once they didn’t have to kick it into the game-tying goal with time out after catch :05 to go.
Brown should not be put in this position. The play call is still a head scratcher.
The only common denominator was Prescott, who had gone from seemingly playing out of his mind to being at the heart of why the Cowboys should question their championship power.
Prescott has two interceptions in the game. The first came in the third quarter with a high throw Dalton Schultz ruled a pass that should have never left his hands.
He was sacked but instead of eating the ball or just throwing it away, Prescott found himself doing too much by trying to make a play. Jenkins picked that up as well and converted into the second of three consecutive touchdown runs by the Jaguars as they rose from a 27-10 third deficit to take a 31-27 lead in the fourth quarter.
Prescott completed 15 of 16 passes for 137 and two touchdowns in the first half. It was 3-for-6 going into the third quarter, and instead of ending up in the end zone and possibly putting the Jaguars away, the Cowboys have to be content with two field goals.
And while Prescott gets credit for directing the Cowboys on a 13-play, 75-yard scoring drive, capped by a Browns touchdown run that put the Cowboys up 34-31, an inability to put the game away on last down from the fourth quarter and an extra interception touchdown as the team’s quarterback’s feet 40 Million dollars.
“I think my job as a quarterback is to put us in winning positions, eliminating potential fouls and opportunities to allow them to score after turnovers,” Prescott said. That’s what frustrates her, whether it’s a tipped ball, unfortunate interception, whatever. They’re all bad, and at the end of the day, I have to do better, and that’s where it’s at. When I say I take them by the chin, that’s why I also try to make those plays, to make those plays put us in better field position and give us a better chance of winning.
“It’s hard when you lose, wanting to be in those positions, wanting to be in those positions with the ball in my hand and when it ends up like that, yeah, it sucks. It’s a feeling I don’t like, and I have to learn from it and do what I can do.” He’s better, I put the ball in better positions, and I get smarter with it.”
Brown should have caught the ball in overtime. The defense should not give up a season-high 318 yards and four touchdowns to Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence nor should it give up 192 yards on the ground.
A unit that ranks second in the league in sacks and first in sacks per game has not been able to consistently hit the quarterback and failed to get Lawrence to the ground when they did.
But when the talk turns to the Cowboys poised to make a playoff run and possibly their first Super Bowl since 1995, it always comes back to the middle.
Prescott has the Cowboys among the contenders with his play since returning from missing five games with a broken thumb. No team has scored more points, gained more yards or been better in third place than the Cowboys under Prescott in the past eight weeks.
But, no quarterback has thrown more interceptions during that time period than Prescott’s 10. That number is seven in the past four games.
All this is not his fault. Some tips were given. Some were unlucky.
No one cares.
They are on his ledger.
Get another receiver so the Browns won’t misplace a third-ranked man. Find a way to stop running on defense and find a real replacement for Anthony Brown at fullback.
Kelvin Joseph wouldn’t cut it.
He still goes back to Prescott and always will.
The Cowboys need him to be the reason they can win games late and in overtime and can win a championship, owner Jerry Jones believes.
It cannot be a reason for their inability or refusal.
The interceptions and spins must stop.
This story was originally published Dec 18, 2022 6:48 PM.