Skip to main content

Cowboys HC Mike McCarthy laments key mistakes in loss to Dolphins, vows to be 'road warriors'

The opportunity was there for Dallas to flip the script, but Sunday's loss to the Miami Dolphins continued the ongoing road struggles.

Head coach Mike McCarthy hopes it will be looked back on as a learning experience for the playoff-bound Cowboys.

"It was a hard-fought game," McCarthy on Sunday, via the team's official website. "It gives you a taste of if we have to go on the road to get this done, and there's a lot that we can draw from this. We're disappointed because we had some miscues. I had a horse---- backed up plan, and we were backed up twice and didn't move the field position, so we didn't help our defense out there.

"We didn't have a takeaway, but we had a giveaway. It's those big mistakes you can't make in these games, but I think the resilience, battle and grit that we're looking for -- we clearly have that."

Dallas fell to 3-5 on the road this season, and Sunday's razor-thin defeat resulted in the team's first losing streak of 2023. While the Cowboys are still in play for the NFC East title, which would offer a home playoff game (Dallas is undefeated at AT&T Stadium this season), McCarthy indicated the writing on the wall for what's to come in late January.

"We have to play better than we did today," he added. "We have to play above it on the road. Road warriors we will be."

It was a valiant team effort for the Cowboys, especially coming off a humiliating blowout in Buffalo last week.

Dak Prescott orchestrated a 17-play, 66-yard drive to get the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, which was a scenario and sequence that allowed the Cowboys offense to prove itself under pressure. The Cowboys' defense also played well against the high-powered Dolphins, holding the league's top scoring offense to just one touchdown and five field goals.

The 22-20 defeat was bookended by two key mistakes, however, which might have been the difference.

Dallas drove the length of the field on its opening possession, taking nearly eight minutes off the clock and setting a tone any successful road team would demonstrate. But a lost fumble on Prescott's handoff to fullback Hunter Luepke on first-and-goal from the 1-yard line ruined the brilliant start and left points on the board of a two-point defeat.

A facemask penalty on the first play of the Dolphins' game-winning drive set the Dolphins up for success. Tua Tagovailoa and Co. proceeded to pepper Dallas with an array of short passes before Jeff Wilson Jr. ran for a final first down to help set up Jason Sanders' game-winning field goal from 29 yards out.

"It was a juggernaut game, and what we expected -- situational football," McCarthy said. "The facemask penalty was a big call [on the final drive]. It's a challenge in these games because you know it's gonna come down to one play, and they probably made a play or two that we didn't."

The Cowboys (10-5) host the Detroit Lions (11-4) in Week 17 before heading to Washington for their final regular-season game. Beating a four-win Commanders team on the road won't change the narrative of the Cowboys' struggles away from Dallas, but they did experience just how small the margin of error can be.

McCarthy's team will put its best foot forward hoping to overcome those road woes on the biggest stage.

Related Content