Dallas Cowboys, Without Dak Prescott, Suffer Joint Worst Defeat in History of AT&T Stadium

The Dallas Cowboys suffered their joint-worst defeat in the history of AT&T Stadium, a 38-10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Monday Night Football, and their season looks in serious danger of careening off the road.

The 28-point loss was the biggest the Cowboys have suffered in the 11 years since they moved into their current home in Arlington, matched only by a 37-9 trouncing they received from NFC East rivals Philadelphia Eagles in Week 11 of the 2017 season.

With latest defeat the Cowboys slipped to 2-4, their worst start since 2015 and head coach Mike McCarthy's joint-worst record at this stage of the season. Somehow, however, Dallas remains top of NFC East, which has a dismal combined record of 5-18-1 through the first six weeks of the campaign.

In his first start for Dallas, Andy Dalton did little to dispel fears the Cowboys' playoff hopes were effectively terminally damaged by the season-ending injury Dak Prescott suffered in Week 5.

Dalton threw two interceptions—one of which should have arguably been overturned because of pass interference—and one touchdown, completing 34 of his 54 passes for 266 yards. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Dalton averaged a paltry 1.3 air yards per completion through the first half, during which he passed for only 82 yards. Prescott, on the other hand, averaged almost 7 air yards per completion.

Without their star quarterback, the Cowboys found themselves in a 21-point hole in the first half which, according to NFL research, was the first time they had been down by over 21 points in the first half of a game since they trailed 24-0 to Washington in Week 17 of the 2015 season. Significantly, the loss to Washington was the last game the Cowboys started without Prescott at quarterback, which is worrying for Dallas as over the last 10 years the franchise is 6-19 in their past 25 games started by a backup quarterback.

Prescott's absence, however, only partially explains the Cowboys' offensive struggles on Monday night. As has often been the case this season, Dallas was its own worst enemy with star running back Ezekiel Elliott losing two fumbles in the first half, both of which resulted in touchdowns for the Cardinals. Remarkably, up until this year Elliott had never lost more than two fumbles in an entire season, let alone a single game.

As per ESPN data, Elliot has lost four fumbles in 133 carries this season, more than all nine of the NFL's other top 10 rushers combined in 1,104 touches.

While the Cowboys suffered an ignominious night at home, Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray continued his love affair with AT&T Stadium. According to NFL research, the first overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft is 7-0 dating back to his high school days when playing on the Cowboys' home field.

A native of Bedford, Texas, Murray admitted he relished playing at the venue.

"It's special, I'm not gonna lie," Murray said. "I tried to not make it about me all week, 'cause it's not about me, it's about my team. And we came out here and got the job done against a good Cowboys team, but like you said, coming back home, I think anybody wants to get a win coming back home and I'm happy we did."

Murray finished with a modest 9-of-24 for 188 yards on Monday night, but threw for two touchdowns and added 74 rushing yards and a score on the ground as Arizona improved to 4-2 to move up to second in the NFC West.

Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys and Andy Dalton #14 look on during the first half against the Arizona Cardinals at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on October 19. Ronald Martinez/Getty