Sunday was a bad day for the Dallas Cowboys.
The Cowboys are off to a 3-1 start against the New York Giants, Arizona Cardinals, New England Patriots and Aaron Rodgers-less New York Jets (combined record in Week 5: 5-15). Designated as a championship contender. They’re a recurring theme that many in football expect every time “America’s Team” shows signs of life.
On Sunday, they meet a true contender in the San Francisco 49ers. It didn’t go well. San Francisco led 21-7 in the first half and scored a final push in the second half, 42-10.
The game ended long before the final buzzer, with quarterbacks Sam Darnold and Cooper Rush setting up starters Lock Purdy and Dak Prescott to finish the game. The 49ers join the Philadelphia Eagles as the only teams in NFL with a 5-0 record, while the Cowboys fall to 3-2, leaving people wondering where they rank in the NFL. .
Prescott wasn’t sure, calling the loss probably “the most humbling game I’ve ever been in.”
But Micah Parsons sees it differently. The Cowboys linebacker doesn’t see a significant difference between the Cowboys and the team that just beat them by 32 points.
“I don’t think they’re at a higher level than we are.” Parsons told reporters after the game. “I think we’re an equally capable playoff team, even if they’re not at the same standard of talent. I just feel like we need to really rethink some things, get together and work some things out.
“I feel like there’s a few games left. The score doesn’t really determine the outcome of the game.”
Instead, Parsons claimed “we beat ourselves,” while pointing to free throws and defensive failures on third down.
Unlike the teams he played for, Parsons’ greatness was unquestionable. A two-time All-Pro selection in two seasons in the NFL, Parsons has established himself as one of the NFL’s dominant disruptive forces at just 24 years old. It’s only fair to debate the title of best defender at Levi’s Stadium on Sunday night on the court he shares with Nick Bosa.
But it no longer makes sense to discuss the Cowboys and 49ers in the same conversation. The 49ers have proven their superiority in nearly every aspect of the game.
They led the Cowboys with 197 yards and 421 yards. They forced 4 turnovers (3 interceptions, 1 fumble) while also committing 1 turnover. They sacked Prescott four times and allowed just one player in Purdy. They had an advantage of 37:05-22:55 in possession time and controlled the ball. They averaged 6.4 yards per carry, while the Cowboys averaged 4.0 yards per carry. They had 25 first downs compared to the Cowboys’ eight.
The score accurately reflected what happened on the field.
But if you’re Parsons — a quality performer and competitor — you can’t accept the premise that your team is significantly worse than the league’s best through five weeks of an 18-week season. team. The stakes are high. The pressure is too much — especially under the watch of owner Jerry Jones. And there is so much pride.
there’s still a long way to go. A lot can change between Week 5 and the playoffs. The ingrained narrative of season one is often long forgotten by the playoffs. Losing confidence in Week 5 is a surefire recipe for failure.
Parsons and the Cowboys can’t accept the fact that they’re not at the 49ers’ level. There was nothing from Sunday night to suggest they were.