Santa Clara, California—— The frustration of back-to-back playoff losses to San Francisco that ended with a bizarre performance turned into humiliation for the Dallas Cowboys.
The Cowboys looked to prove themselves to the NFC contenders against the 49ers, but they were pushed off the field almost from the start.
The defense that had been so stingy for the first four weeks was completely exposed. The offense took more than a quarter of the game to get even a first down and was unable to move the ball or protect it.
Dallas’ 42-10 loss to the 49ers on Sunday night was one of the most lopsided games in the storied rivalry’s history, raising more questions about whether the Cowboys can become the first-time repeat team. The threat of returning to the Super Bowl. More than a quarter of a century.
“It was like a punch in the stomach, a kick in the butt, whatever word you want to use to describe it,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “They beat us in all three phases.”
Dak Prescott was under pressure from San Francisco’s relentless defense from the start, and the Cowboys (3-2) opened the game with three three-and-outs and a fumble by Tony Pollard.
Prescott provided a glimmer of hope in the second quarter when he responded to a 26-yard touchdown pass from KaVontae Turpin, but everything fell apart in the second half, leading to Dallas’ worst loss in 10 years. A balanced loss and the biggest loss against San Francisco.
Midway through the third quarter, on Brock Purdy’s third touchdown pass, San Francisco extended its lead to 28-10, Prescott’s long pass in double coverage led to Tashaun Gipson intercepted.
That set up another touchdown for the Niners and Prescott was intercepted on his next two possessions, giving him three interceptions in just six possessions.
“Didn’t see it coming,” quarterback Dak Prescott said. “Putting everything in and getting punched in the mouth. The game against Arizona a couple weeks ago was humbling. But it was probably the most humbling game I’ve ever been in. Feeling good about the preparation, Feeling good about everything honestly about this game, they beat us in every aspect.”
San Francisco has now won three straight in the series. During the 2021 season, the Niners won a wild-card game in Dallas, but ultimately lost 23-17 when Prescott grabbed the ball on the final play and failed to spike the ball in time.
The Cowboys lost again on the road in the divisional round last season, 19-12, in a game that ended with running back Ezekiel Elliott playing center but never getting a chance.
There was little drama at the end of the game, as most of the starters from both teams were watching the ball for much of the fourth quarter.
It was Dallas’ most lopsided loss since a 49-17 loss to New Orleans in 2013, but the Cowboys aren’t ready to make any concessions to the Niners and hope to play again in January.
“We’re not that far away from them,” star edge rusher Micah Parsons said. “I don’t think their team is any better than us. We beat ourselves and we need to be in a better position to make plays and stuff like that. But going forward, we’re going to have to adjust and be ready. Because I do feel They have our number and we don’t have theirs. They gave us the best chance tonight and we can learn from it and get better in the playoffs.”