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How a stunning loss exposes the Cowboys' weaknesses

Cowboys CB Trevon Diggs out for the season after injuring knee in practice
Cowboys CB Trevon Diggs out for the season after injuring knee in practice 03:00

FORT WORTH ( – No one saw this coming — especially no one on a Dallas defense that had provided big play after big play the first two weeks of this NFL season.

In Week 3, the Dallas Cowboys defense saw even more big plays in a 28-16 loss, but they were provided by a Cardinals offense that figured out how to slow down Micah Parsons and teammates.

They did that by running right at an aggressive Dallas defense that is intent on sacking the quarterback and forcing turnovers at any cost. The Cowboys paid the price this week in the form of a Cardinals land rush that began on the second play of the game when Arizona QB Joshua Dobbs raced past a charging Parsons and scampered 44 yards down the sideline.

In all, the Cardinals rushed for 182 yards in the first half alone. Running back James Conner broke free for runs of 27, 20, 12 and 5 yards for a touchdown. Wide receiver Rondale Moore lined up in the backfield and dashed 45 yards for another score.

A quick review of the video reveals that the Cardinals were simply taking advantage of what the Dallas defense was giving them — wide open running lanes which occur when a defense abandons disciplined gap control and sells out to sack the quarterback.

There were other factors that contributed to the loss. Ten penalties for 78 yards in the first half. Only one touchdown in five trips to the red zone.

Cowboys wide receivers have yet to score through three games. Dak Prescott under threw Michael Gallup in the end zone on the final drive before being intercepted to end the possession and there went the hopes for a long winning streak to start the season.

Perhaps the Cowboys defense played out of control because it was trying to do too much to offset the loss of Pro Bowl CB Trevon Diggs and three Pro Bowl offensive linemen, Zack Martin, Tyron Smith, and Tyler Biadasz, who sat out the game with injuries. Or maybe they took the 0-2 Cardinals lightly in their preparation for the game.

Whatever the reason, the Cowboys were out-coached and out-played and must regroup quickly with a difficult October stretch upcoming, starting with Bill Belichick, Zeke Elliott and the New England Patriots next Sunday. After that, the Cowboys hit the road to play a San Francisco 49ers team that's playing as well as any team in the league, and then comes a reunion with former Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore and the Los Angeles Chargers. 

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