The young core of Dallas Cowboys skill players -- notably Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Dez Bryant -- have not faced a ton of adversity as a group. Dez has been through up-and-down seasons and has battled injury, but this young core certainly hasn't been beaten they way they were in Denver on Sunday. A 13-3 record in Year 1 will do that for you.
First up was coach Jason Garrett, who promptly blamed Dak for the passing game issues in Denver.
Jason Garrett put the blame squarely on Dak Prescott's inability to make plays in the passing game— Clarence Hill Jr (@clarencehilljr) September 18, 2017
A couple of things are worth noting here. One, Dak did not disagree. He said he played poorly.
"If I make more plays, we give ourselves a chance in that game," the second-year quarterback said. "I just simply didn't make the plays. There's no excuse for it. Playing like that, you won't win games. It doesn't matter who you play."
But good defenses are not good excuses.
There were no excuses made during the NFL Network postgame show featuring Hall of Famers Deion Sanders and LaDainian Tomlinson.
"I didn't like the way he quit today. I didn't like that. He absolutely quit on his team today. And there's gonna be times when you're not going to have room to run," Tomlinson said. "On a couple of plays, first his attitude on the sideline ... clearly, he didn't have any communication with his team.
"He didn't want to talk to his teammates. Sometimes when things are going wrong, as a leader of that team, as a captain, you've got to rally the troops."
Now, if one was a cynic, one could point out that Tomlinson spent a playoff game sitting on a bench with a helmet on and a dark visor obscuring his face as the Chargers' season ended (while Philip Rivers played with a torn ACL).
Tomlinson is a legend and maybe my favorite running back ever to watch. But maybe don't yell about people quitting on their team.
Sanders also went in on Dez Bryant a little bit too, pointing out that Bryant has not had monster games when he has gone against a "real, pure, dominant corner."
"Dez to me is one of the best receivers in the game ... The last few times Dez has gone against a real, pure, dominant corner, they haven't gotten the ball to him or hasn't made his catches or he hasn't had productivity," Sanders said. "I don't know where the inconsistency with he and Dak [Prescott is], but you don't see this with Antonio Brown. You don't see this with Julio [Jones]. He has to win the 1-on-1s and he and Dak have to get on the same page."
None of these criticisms are unfair. The Cowboys laid an egg in a big spot as road favorites against the Broncos. Denver dominated them on both sides of the ball and took a couple of young kids to school. The Cowboys had bad body language and did not look like they were particularly checked into the game in the fourth quarter with Denver running away with things.
But, um, welcome to the NFL? These things are going to happen, and you have to fight through them. The Cowboys head to Arizona to play the Cardinals on Monday night in Week 3. We'll find out a lot about how they handle their first real test of adversity under the brightest of lights.