6 Big plays shaped Cowboys lopsided 24-22 loss to Jets
The Dallas Cowboys have now lost three games in a row after a 24-22 defeat to the New York Jets on Sunday. Quarterback Sam Darnold proved to be the difference for a struggling Jets team that averaged 7.6 points per game during his three-game absence. The Cowboys underestimated a Jets passing attack that was suddenly explosive thanks to the return of Darnold, and this is heavily reflected in some of the biggest plays of the game.
Some of the Cowboys struggles on offense could be attributed to missing tackles Tyron Smith and La'el Collins due to injury. On top of that, wide receiver Amari Cooper left the game early in the first quarter due to a quad injury. Nevertheless, here are the biggest plays that shaped the loss using Expected Points Added (EPA) and Win Probability (WP) metrics from nflscrapR. EPA measures the value of a play based on down, distance to first downs, field position and time remaining in the game.EPA: 2.4. DAL WP Shift: 46% -> 38%
The Jets' second drive of the game was a problematic one for the Cowboys, with the defense surrendering four penalties that would keep the Jets on schedule to score. The biggest play of the drive came on a well-designed pick play. Crowder was able to break free from Cowboys cornerback Anthony Brown thanks to a pick from Jets tight end Ryan Griffin. This gave Crowder enough space to secure the 24-yard gain.
It was a sloppy drive for the Cowboys' defense and it would eventually be capped by a two yard rushing touchdown from Le'Veon Bell. Giving the Jets an early 7-0 lead.EPA: -2.3. DAL WP Shift 46% -> 40%
On fourth-and-2 deep in Jets' territory, going for it on fourth down was the right call from head coach Jason Garrett. However, the play call left plenty to be desired as the team opted for a QB power run. It was rookie DT Quinnen Williams that would force the red-zone stop on fourth down. The play was a failure, but the desire to go for it in this situation does deserve some praise.EPA: 7.2. DAL WP Shift 40% -> 17%
Immediately following the fourth down stop from the Jets, they would open their next possession with the biggest play of the game. Deep in their own territory, their Expected Points from this spot of the field stood at minus-0.2. Despite this, the Jets would convert on a 92-yard score thanks to a well executed Stutter-go route from Anderson that left CB Chidobe Awuzie stumbling in coverage. Following the play, the Cowboys' WP fell by a massive 23 percent.EPA: -4.8. DAL WP Shift: 8% -> 13%
Late in the third quarter, the Jets were in another scoring opportunity in the red zone. Another touchdown here would have been disastrous for the Cowboys after trailing by 12 points. But it was here that Darnold committed his biggest mistake of the game as his pass landed in the hands of CB Jourdan Lewis who would add 20-yards of his own on the return.
The Jets offense was hard to stop all game, but Lewis' timely interception proved to be a big factor as the Cowboys began their comeback in the fourth quarter.EPA: 3.1. DAL WP Shift: 15% -> 26%
Late in the game, the Cowboys produced their best drive spanning 11 plays and 84-yards. It started with a 16-yard gain from Prescott to Tavon Austin on the first play of the drive. From there the team methodically worked their way down the field. They would find the end zone on a crucial 5-yard run from Elliott that would cut the deficit to five points.EPA: -0.9. DAL WP Shift: 31% -> 11%
Following Prescott's 4-yard rushing touchdown, the Cowboys needed a two-point conversion to tie the game. But the Jets were well prepared for the Cowboys' final snap of the game.
On the final 2-pt conversion play, Jets DC Gregg Williams called a Cover-0 blitz (6 pass rushers) against the Cowboys empty formation.
Jamal Adams pressured Prescott in 1.5 seconds, while Cowboys receivers averaged 0.73 yds of separation at pass forward.#DALvsNYJ#TakeFlight pic.twitter.com/h6c9QsezvN
- Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) October 13, 2019
Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams dialed up a successful blitz play, where safety Jamal Adams was able to pressure Prescott into releasing the ball faster than intended. The result was an incomplete pass to Witten down the middle and the Cowboys were forced to rely on an onside kick recovery to keep their hopes of winning alive, it was a moot point. The Jets would recover the onside kick and kneel their way to a close 24-22 victory.
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