Arlington -- It was as confounding a performance as you could imagine.
A Cowboys offense that has been struggling early this season finally clicked. Running back Zeke Elliott found plenty of room on the ground. Quarterback Dak Prescott was at his elusive play-making best. It almost felt like 2016 all over again, for all of one-half of football.
It's hard enough to understand, even harder to explain just what happened to the Cowboys offense after the first 30 minutes. It's as if they went into the locker room at halftime and didn't bother coming out; hard to figure how that offense went from dominant to defective.
Los Angeles defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and his charges exerted pressure, taking away all rhythm from the Cowboys offensive after the break, Prescott and receiver Dez Bryant in particular.
“I think I missed some throws in the second half that I didn’t miss in the first half or that I can’t miss, simply," said Prescott. "Just have to be more accurate especially in two-minute drives."
Putting a finger on exactly what happened had the Cowboys scratching their heads.
"We just didn’t come out and execute," said running back Zeke Elliott. "They did a good job on defense stopping us."
The drive chart says it all. The Cowboys scored on all four first-half drives, including three touchdowns.
The second half Dallas morphed from Jekyll to Hyde. 1-2-3 kicks, a turnover, a touchdown to keep it close, and a turnover on downs.
"I mean we did some good things; we just couldn’t do enough," said tight end, Jason Witten. "You know offensively we just couldn’t make enough plays down the stretch."
The Phillips factor was in full effect. The former Cowboys head coach pushed the right buttons and pulled the plug on what had been a high-powered Cowboys offense.
"Wade Phillips is a hell of a coach," said Jerry Jones. "They did a good job against what we think is a good offensive group.”
Phillips was all smiles on the sidelines after his defense got one final stop to seal the game.
"I love the people I'm with," said Phillips. "but I still love the sons of guns I was with before."
Meanwhile, it's up to the Cowboys offense to shake a label that will follow them now - inconsistent.
"I think we have an identity in what we want to do," said Witten "You know, just stay with the run game and what we’re trying to do. You know some of those popped out and hit, but collectively, just overall, we have to be better at it and I think that’s across the board."
It all starts with the guys under center. There were times when the game sped up for him and Prescott didn't respond with his signature poise. The second-year signal-caller takes full responsibility.
"I think it was just us not converting," said Prescott. "I think we need to find a better consistency in our offense, in running the ball and throwing the ball. Me and my accuracy, we’ve got to be consistent throughout the whole game."
He said it, 'the whole game.'
This loss to the Rams a not-so-subtle reminder.
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