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Cowboys lose in heartbreaking fashion, 23-17

The Dallas Cowboys' season is over.
Credit: AP
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper, left, catches a touchdown pass against San Francisco 49ers defensive back K'Waun Williams (24) during the first half of an NFL wild-card playoff football game in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman)

ARLINGTON, Texas — Billed as the premier game for NFL Wild Card Weekend, the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers ended in heartbreaking fashion -- for the Cowboys.

Dallas fell to the 49ers, 23-17, in a game that came down to the final drive in which the Cowboys ran out of time to score.

The Cowboys fell behind early in the first quarter and were within striking distance of taking a lead until an interception in the third quarter by quarterback Dak Prescott that led to a Deebo Samuel 26-yard touchdown run and a 23-7 lead for San Francisco.

With eight minutes left in the game, Prescott brought the score closer to 23-17 with a 5-yard touchdown run. But that would be the end of it.

The Cowboys got one more chance to win the game but with no timeouts left, time was against Dallas. Starting from their 20-yard line, the Cowboys offense drove 56 yards with 32 seconds left in the game. 

But, on the last play and with 14 seconds left, Prescott opted to run for 17 yards to get a first down. However, there was not enough time for the Cowboys offense to get set and spike the ball, ending the game.

"Extraordinarily disappointed, very disappointed," expressed Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. "This is quite a letdown.”

Dallas was penalized 14 times including a phantom delay of game after converting a fake punt pass for a first down.

That was the story of the game for Dallas.

Note: The story below is from halftime.

In perspective, the Vegas oddsmakers had Dallas and San Francisco as the highest scoring game of the week with an over/under of 51.5 points.

Perhaps the second half will bring more scoring, but it will be hard to top the theatrics of the first half including a misspelling by the Cowboys equipment staff 

No, Cowboys linebacker Leighton Vander Esch did not legally change his last name to Vander Ecsh.

Vander Esch's linebacker teammate Micah Parsons left the game briefly in the first half after a head-first collision.

The rookie phenom went to the blue medical tent for evaluation and returned to the game on the ensuing possession.

The 49ers best defensive player also suffered a head injury in the first half when defensive end Nick Bosa collided head-first with a teammate with a minute left in the second quarter.

Bosa was able to walk off the field for evaluation by the San Francisco training staff.

Offensively, the 49ers have scored points on all four of their possessions. However, three of them were field goals which have kept the Cowboys within striking distance.

Speaking of strikes, Dallas got on the scoreboard in the second quarter when quarterback Dak Prescott dropped a dime to Amari Cooper for a touchdown.

Perhaps the Cowboys best play of the first half was when running back Ezekiel Elliott picked up a blitz on 3rd Down and sent two 49ers defenders flying. The Cowboys converted for a 1st Down.

However, the drive stalled in the final minute of the first half when a 3rd Down pass to receiver Cedrick Wilson was dropped because the glare from the sun was right in his eyes.

The sun has since set low enough that it is no longer in the players' line of sight.

A banner day for AT&T Stadium continued on the Cowboys first possession of the second half when punter Bryan Anger's punt hit the scoreboard.

"This is very unusual, but the punt hit the scoreboard," the head referee announced, as the Cowboys had to re-punt.

I guess that's why Anger is second team All-Pro this year.

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