Cowboys' offense, season going nowhere after loss to Eagles

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys' offense suddenly looks like it did in 2015 when Brandon Weeden, Matt Cassel and Kellen Moore started 12 of the 16 games, with Tony Romo twice suffering a broken left collarbone.

This time the Cowboys don't miss Romo. They miss Ezekiel Elliott, who will sit the next four games because of a suspension. They miss All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith, who was out for a second straight game with a groin strain.

In a game that seemed like a must-win, the Cowboys were demolished 37-9 on Sunday by the Philadelphia Eagles, owners of the best record in the NFL.

It is the Cowboys' worst loss in the history of AT&T Stadium and the third loss of at least 20 points this season. It is the first time since 2016 against the Buffalo Bills, with Moore as their starter, that the Cowboys did not score an offensive touchdown.

Thoughts of winning the NFC East for the second straight year should be gone. Thoughts of making a wild-card bid should be dimmed as well. Simply scoring a touchdown should be the more immediate goal.

The Cowboys have had 23 drives without Elliott, who had 783 yards rushing in the first eight games, and Smith and have scored one touchdown. And that drive lasted just 21 yards after a takeaway gave them the ball deep inside the Atlanta Falcons' territory.

Dak Prescott had the first three-interception game of his career after he had the first two-interception first half of his career. Neither first-half interception was converted into points by Philadelphia, but Prescott completed 18 of 31 passes for 145 yards. His longest completion was 19 yards.

"We're not putting it together," Prescott said. "We get the run game going and the pass game's not. The pass game's going, the run game is not. We just got to, us as players, find a way to just get it done better on the field. Just make sure we continue to stay balanced and the coaches are doing that. We just got to execute it better on the field."

Without Elliott, the Cowboys' offense is being suffocated.

The running game was better than it was against Atlanta. Alfred Morris finished with 91 yards on 17 carries. The pass protection was better than it was against Atlanta but only because it couldn't be worse. Prescott was sacked four times, half as much as against the Falcons, and lost a fumble on one that was returned for a touchdown.

Unlike last week, when coach Jason Garrett stubbornly kept Prescott in for the full game, he pulled Prescott late in the fourth quarter in favor of rookie Cooper Rush.

It was done knowing the Cowboys have a game on Thursday against the Los Angeles Chargers, who hung 54 points on the Bills Sunday.

There isn't much time to figure out a way for this offense to improve.

That the defense struggled is not surprising. It's what it does without Sean Lee. The Cowboys have now lost six straight games in which their defensive leader has not played. In the first half against the Eagles, however, the defense stiffened after allowing a 75-yard scoring drive to open the game, giving up just 30 yards the rest of the half.

But the Eagles scored touchdowns on drives of 75, 90 and 85 yards in the second half.

"The biggest thing we emphasized coming into this ballgame was the importance of stopping the run," coach Jason Garrett said. "Trying to make them as one dimensional as possible because they've got a really good running game... . They sprung for a couple of longer runs and we'll have to look at what happened on those particular plays. But that was it more than anything else. And then once they got going, so much of the rest of their offense comes alive."

The Cowboys know they won't get Elliott back until Dec. 24 against the Seattle Seahawks. They hope Smith can play against the Chargers, but that is not a certainty.

Somehow they have to find their offense again. Any offense.

If not, then there might not be a lot of wins in the final six weeks, and that could lead to big changes in coaching and personnel.