ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Jerry Jones has watched his Dallas Cowboys lose their playoff opener twice as the No. 1 seed in the NFC.
The club's owner and general manager endured the Dez Bryant catch that wasn't in Green Bay when Dallas appeared good enough for a deep run but lost a divisional playoff to the Packers after that call.
Still, it's hard to imagine any postseason failure more jarring than Sunday's 48-32 wild-card loss to Green Bay, in all the 28 years since the most recent time the Cowboys reached an NFC championship game.
“I don’t want to rank it,” Jones said outside a sullen Dallas locker room. “But I will tell you this was beyond my comprehension.”
The Cowboys (12-6) had a chance for at least two home playoff games with a 16-game winning streak at AT&T Stadium. The Packers had to finish 6-2 to sneak into the final playoff spot in the NFC.
The Cowboys had seven Pro Bowl players, four of those getting All-Pro nods as well. The Packers were shut out of the Pro Bowl and unproven quarterback Jordan Love was making his playoff debut.
Dak Prescott was the one who threw critical interceptions, including a pick-6. A Dallas defense that thrives on turnovers and sacks didn't have any, and was worse than ordinary as a result.
Even before the game was over — and somewhere around the times the Packers had leads of 27-0 and 48-16 — pundits were already replacing coach Mike McCarthy.
There doesn't figure to be any immediate news on that front from Jones. McCarthy was meeting with players in exit interviews Monday and won't talk to reporters until he's finished with that.
There's nothing unusual about that approach, but if the meeting with the media doesn't come in the next couple of days, it will begin to look like the previous time things were this uncertain with a Dallas coach.
After the 2019 season, Jason Garrett sat in limbo for a week with an expiring contract, and never did address reporters. The Cowboys interviewed McCarthy before even acknowledging publicly that Garrett wouldn't return.
McCarthy has a year remaining on his contract, and just finished his first season as Prescott's play-caller after Dallas moved on from Kellen Moore following last season's divisional loss at San Francisco.
A Super Bowl winner with three other deep playoff runs in 12-plus seasons with the Packers, McCarthy has led three consecutive 12-win playoff seasons with the Cowboys.
But now Dallas is the only team not to reach a conference title game in such a three-season stretch.
“It’s as fresh on me right now as it is on anybody else, but I won’t get into addressing any aspects or any part of it,” said Jones, who usually has a radio appearance the Tuesday after the season ends. “From the coaching to the players to what’s around the corner.”
Like McCarthy, Prescott is going into the final year of his contract. The eighth-year pro has a massive $59 million salary cap hit in 2024 that can only be reduced with an extension.
So the Cowboys have to ask themselves if they want to re-invest in a player who has been in the MVP conversation a couple of times in his career, including this season, but hasn't been clutch consistently in the playoffs.
Prescott is 2-5 in the postseason, with three of the losses coming in playoff openers at home.
“It’s a shock because as I said to begin with, (darn) sure didn’t think this is where we’d be,” Prescott said. “It’ll take a little bit more time to digest it completely, to be honest with you.”
The Cowboys gave up touchdowns on six of the first seven Green Bay possessions.
It's the same unit that gave up a game-winning drive in a loss to Miami in Week 16 and would have done the same a week later against Detroit if not for a disputed penalty. The call erased a 2-point conversion that put the Lions up by one with 23 seconds remaining.
Star pass rusher Micah Parsons had no impact against the Packers and now has a 1-3 playoff record with one sack.
Cornerback DaRon Bland's NFL-leading nine interceptions and record five pick-6s were distant memories. He had a crucial illegal contact penalty on the first Green Bay possession and was beaten several times after that.
The dismal showing even raises questions about the viability of defensive coordinator Dan Quinn's candidacy to return to head coaching. The former Atlanta coach is expected to interview for several vacancies, just as he has the previous two years before deciding to stay.
“I’m kind of distraught,” cornerback Jourdan Lewis said. “You don’t know what to feel. We definitely didn’t know that we’d be feeling this, this early.”
BRING THE CHECKBOOK
Lamb, who set club records for catches and yards receiving this season, didn't have his first grab against the Packers until the Cowboys were down 20-0.
He enters the final year of his rookie contract, while the Cowboys have a March deadline to exercise the fifth-year option on Parsons' deal.
Both developments mean the first-round draft picks are approaching big paydays, which all could be tied to what Dallas does with Prescott.
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