Dak Prescott gave away the ball twice in a narrow loss to the San Francisco 49ers, in a matchup the Dallas Cowboys had a chance to win if they didn't again generate self-inflicted wounds. More people saw that happen live than literally anything else as the NFL remains ratings king. Dallas' official Twitter account relayed this accurate information while teasing a piece on the official website titled Dak on Loss to 49ers: 'Unacceptable, 100% On Me' because studies have shown that writing a short caption improves engagement and we're all after the almighty dollar.
The piece is relatively short and the headline gives it all away, briefly addressing what happened on Prescott's two interceptions and correctly deducing that this was a major stepback offensively after thumping the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Prescott is owning both mistakes — fully.
"Those are throws you can't have, not in the playoffs," he added. "Not when you're playing a team like that [and] on the road. No excuses for it. Those are 100% on me."
Prescott wasn't the only player who struggled to get going on offense, and the loss of Tony Pollard to injury late in the second quarter made things that much more difficult on that side of the ball, in an effort that was nothing close to the near-masterpiece executed by Prescott only one week prior against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
A person wouldn't even think twice about any of this and go about their lives if the undefeated wheels of the Content Machine weren't there to make it a thing. Apparently the Cowboys' tweet that mentioned their quarterback by name and said he had a bad game has offended sensibilities and sent pundits into zero-sum race to be the most upset about it.
Here's Herm Edwards, who has made his name as a tough-talking, straight shooter, invoking his religion
“What I want to say, I can’t say on air because I’m a good Catholic man,” he said. “I won’t go there with it, but I will say this; it’s unfortunate. It really is when you think about somebody in the organization. You’re entitled to your opinion, but this thing is called team.
“When you pick out a certain individual to say you want to lay the blame on him, personally to me, I don’t believe in that,” Edwards continued. “I just don’t, that’s not how I’m built. This is a little bit of the Dallas Cowboys’ problem. It’s always someone else’s fault … Let me place the blame on this one person ’cause it’s not about us as a football team. They played a football game yesterday that I thought they played very good."
That last sentence is a real puzzler. He thought that the Cowboys played "very good?" What?
Not to be outdone, Jay Williams used his ESPN Radio platform this morning to call the franchise "wack."
Forget for a second that athletes and coaches are subjected to criticism 50 or 100 times worse than this little blurb on the team website each and every day. Forget that anyone who actually read more than the one-sentence Twitter tease wouldn't have thought twice and certainly wouldn't have thought to be outraged by it. Forget that there's absolutely no chance Prescott is a shrinking violet and will bat an eye at something so trivial.
The bigger point here is this coverage is in line with the Cowboys' official site's editorial ethos, which is more journalism than propaganda. One of the many reasons they became America's team was a forward-thinking media arm that built a place fans could get somewhat fair and balanced coverage of the club. They were first to market and arguably maintain their position as the standard-bearer.
It seems a bit crazy but perhaps expected that there are no producers or editors working at the dozens of outlets who have blown this issue out to point out that this is par for the course and these impassioned critiques are also tacit admissions that talent hasn't been paying attention or just learned something.
And look, we cover a bunch of trivial stuff around here and the Pulitzer committee won't be knocking on the office door anytime soon. Perhaps we're the ones who should have seen a third day of coverage and vitriol about a rather pedestrian tweet being inevitable because it is the Cowboys and we are a collapsing society that can only pull at the fragments of things.
Still just a bit jarring to see where we've landed.