Michael Irvin Blames Dak Prescott, CeeDee Lamb, Ezekiel Elliott for Cowboys' Loss

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 20, 2022

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) looks on after throwing an incomplete pass, turning the ball over on downs to the San Francisco 49ers during a wild card NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022, in Arlington, Texas. San Francisco won 23-17. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)
AP Photo/Brandon Wade

Dallas Cowboys legend and Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin picked out a few scapegoats for the team's 23-17 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday in the NFC Wild Card Round. 

"Every team you look at, the stars of the team showed up and played," Irvin said on the Stacking the Box podcast (2:05 mark). "You can't win in this game if your stars don't show up and play. It's Dak Prescott, 69 passer rating. Ezekiel Elliott, 31 rushing yards. CeeDee Lamb, 21 yards on one reception."

"They had the star players playing like role players," he added. "... That's why they’ve got their butts sitting at home."

In Elliott's defense, the Cowboys only called 12 running plays for him and only attempted 21 rushes in total. San Francisco's front seven dominated the line of scrimmage, though Zeke can't be happy with 2.6 yards per carry. 

In Lamb's defense, he was only targeted by Prescott five times. Only coming down with one reception, however, isn't exactly the sort of prime-time performance expected from the 2020 first-round pick.

Still, while appearing on 96.7 The Ticket, former Cowboys quarterback and current Fox broadcaster Troy Aikman criticized the team's game plan and scheme for not getting Lamb more involved:

Jon Machota @jonmachota

Troy Aikman on <a href="https://twitter.com/dfwticket?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@dfwticket</a> on Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb only having one catch vs. the 49ers: <a href="https://t.co/sdIZD8dmpx">pic.twitter.com/sdIZD8dmpx</a>

PFF Fantasy Football @PFF_Fantasy

The Cowboys made a huge mistake in ignoring CeeDee Lamb vs 49ers 😬 <a href="https://t.co/CvbPZ74NWi">pic.twitter.com/CvbPZ74NWi</a>

It's harder to find an excuse for Prescott, who finished the game 23-of-43 for 254 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He was sacked five times. 

Yes, San Francisco's pass rush was excellent for much of the game, at least until Nick Bosa went down late in the second quarter and entered the concussion protocol. But Prescott did not play well. 

It's becoming a theme in big games. 

In 2019, with a chance to clinch the NFC East in a Week 16 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles, Prescott finished 25-of-44 for 265 yards with no touchdowns, no interceptions and two sacks. More importantly, the Cowboys scored all of nine points. The Eagles won the next week and clinched the division, and Dallas missed the playoffs. 

In 2017, the Cowboys needed to beat the Seattle Seahawks in Week 16 to remain eligible for the playoffs. Instead, Prescott threw two interceptions and was sacked four times, the Cowboys failed to score a touchdown and Seattle won 21-12, ensuring Dallas would miss the playoffs. 

And come the postseason, Prescott is just 1-3 as the team's starter, with 1,048 yards, six touchdowns, three interceptions, nine sacks and a 61.0 completion percentage. Not exactly elite production from the quarterback.

There are plenty of fingers to point in Dallas, from Mike McCarthy's questionable time management all the way to Jerry Jones' ownership, which has overseen just four playoff wins since the team's last title in 1995. The buck stops there. 

But for Irvin, it started with Prescott, Elliott and Lamb on Sunday.