Sunday Night Football had a ton of anticipation this weekend as the Dallas Cowboys traveled to face the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium, looking to avenge their 19-12 NFC Divisional Round playoff loss last season in the Bay Area.
The hype was legit, as it was reportedly the most-watched game on Sunday Night Football of all time with 26.1 million average viewers; however, the result was nowhere near expectations for the Cowboys, as the 49ers easily defeated their rivals 42-10 in a lopsided matchup.
It was a humbling experience for the Cowboys, who expected much better from their team, and certain individuals acknowledged the difficulty of the situation after the demoralizing loss, including quarterback Dak Prescott.
“Didn’t see it coming,” Prescott said of the result. “Put everything into this, and got punched in the mouth. It was humbling a couple weeks ago against Arizona. But this may be the most humbling game I’ve ever been a part of. Felt good about the preparation, felt good about everything honestly coming into this game and they beat us in every aspect.”
Head coach Mike McCarthy was transparent after the game, sharing that the 49ers beat the Cowboys in all factors of the game in the blowout.
“It’s a punch in the gut, it’s a kick the in the (butt), whatever phrase you want to put on it,” McCarthy said. “They beat us in all three phases.”
Wideout CeeDee Lamb pleaded for more urgency from the offense in being a complete threat, rather than the inconsistencies that Dallas has showcased this season.
“We got to be complete. We can’t go out there one week and look like a super team, and then the following week, s—t the bed,” Lamb said after the game, via The Athletic’s Jon Machota.
However, one Cowboy had an interesting choice of words, both immediately after the game and on Monday: star pass rusher Micah Parsons, who took exception to George Kittle’s shirt after the tight end’s three-touchdown performance.
“George Kittle had three touchdowns on us and he posted this thing to IG. He said ‘F Dallas’. I just feel like he’s making it more, way more, personal than it had to be,” Parsons said after the game.
Parsons doubled down, sharing that the Cowboys would get the best of the 49ers in their next matchup, despite the lopsided loss in Week 5.
“Kittle’s my guy, but I’m gonna say this: laugh now, cry later. We got something for that, just trust. If we see them again, just trust. We gon put it just like that. I ain’t gon put too much on it. You gonna make it personal? We can make it personal. That’s cool.”
Kittle’s shirt was in homage to Gary Plummer, adding fuel to the fire of a personal rivalry that has gone on for decades at this stage.
“I like to find inspiration throughout weeks, throughout the season, because it’s a long season and it’s a grind sometimes, and just want to find a little juice from other places,” Kittle said during an appearance on the “Murph and Mac” show.
“And my entire career, every time we play Dallas, I’ve always seen this Gary Plummer photo of him ripping up the t-shirt for the NFC Championship game.”
Kittle shared nothing but respect for the Cowboys during his radio interview on Monday, but also pointed to the rivalry as a reason to troll after the win.
“I think Dallas is a wonderful organization,” Kittle said. “They’ve won a ton of Super Bowls, and I respect a lot of them and their players. And you could go back to every media thing I’ve ever said about the Dallas Cowboys, and I always talk about them very nice and very respectful. And I’m not lying, either. They’re a very good football team.”
“I’m a mild internet troll. It’s just kind of the age I grew up in.”
Those weren’t the only comments that were intriguing from Parsons after the game, however, as the defensive end shared his belief that the talent gap between the two teams isn't much at all, despite the outcome.
“I don’t think they really at a higher level than us. I think we the same-caliber playoff team, if not the same talent standard as them. I just feel like we need to really reconsider some things, get together, and fix some things,” Parsons said.
Parsons believed that his team beat themselves, rather than providing credit to the 49ers for their performance, doubling down that the outcome would be different next time.
“The score don’t really shape what happened out there. I just feel like there was nothing that they did besides us beating ourselves.”
It seems that different Cowboys players and personnel are taking the outcome in different ways, with Prescott, Lamb, and McCarthy pointing blame at their own team, while crediting the 49ers, while Parsons had a different agenda.
Will the Cowboys see an opportunity to stand on their words with a second matchup against the 49ers this season in the playoffs? That’s the question that I’m sure both teams are willing to find an answer to, given the history between the two sides.