Mike McCarthy got the sentimental stuff out of the way before his first home game as coach of the Dallas Cowboys, in the stadium where he won his Super Bowl with Green Bay a decade ago.
After getting hired, McCarthy wanted to know how long the ride was from team headquarters to AT&T Stadium, so he made the trip. Before a glorified practice in Dallas’ $1.2 billion home during training camp, McCarthy took himself back in time.
When the Cowboys host Atlanta in a meeting of 0-1 teams today, McCarthy will think about home-field advantage — with a limited number of fans, of course — and other things associated with taking the proud franchise where it hasn’t been in the playoffs in 25 years.
“I’ve had the chance to do the walk down memory lane,” McCarthy said. “I’m really kind of past that and just want to establish ourselves at home this year.”
McCarthy’s Dallas debut coincided with the opening of the new stadium in Los Angeles, and the Cowboys lost to the Rams 20-17. The Falcons fell to Seattle 38-25 despite 450 yards passing from Matt Ryan.
Atlanta lost four of its first five games in 2018 and began 1-7 a year ago on the way to a pair of 7-9 finishes. The first 0-2 start in six seasons under Dan Quinn would further cloud the future of a coach who likely needs to make the playoffs to keep his job.
“That’s kind of something we preach around here a lot, be where your feet are,” cornerback Isaiah Oliver said. “Wherever you are right in that moment, wherever you are right at that time, keep looking forward.”
Dak Prescott had a big first half leading the Dallas offense against the Rams, but the Cowboys scored just three second-half points and couldn’t produce with a chance to tie or win late. The theme was all-too-familiar after a disappointing 2019, when Dallas was 1-6 in one-score games.
“I take pride in having the ball in my hands late in the game,” Prescott said. “I’m not very proud of the way I’ve handled it and the team has handled it recently. But it’s something I’m sure will change. Everybody has got to embrace that.”
Dallas Pro Bowl receiver Amari Cooper suggested the possibility of three 1,000-yard receivers after the Cowboys drafted CeeDee Lamb in the first round to join him and Michael Gallup. The Falcons are off to a much better start in that regard.
The second-most prolific passing game of Ryan’s career last week was most notable because of three receivers surpassing 100 yards. Julio Jones led with 154 yards, followed by Calvin Ridley with 130 and Russell Gage at 114 — each with nine catches.