No one was surprised the Dolphins lost, handily, to the Cowboys Sunday.
What was shocking: How they lost.
The Cowboys beat them by repeating throwing at Xavien Howard, with rare success.
Howard shut Amari Cooper down last year when he matched up with the then-Raiders receiver.
On Sunday, Cooper torched Howard for two touchdowns, finishing with 88 yards on six catches
The longest? A 37-yard catch on a double move that fooled Howard so badly, he wasn’t within 10 yards of the Cowboys wideout when the ball arrived. It came on Dallas’ first offensive snap.
“S---, they set me up good,” Howard said afterward. “[Hats] off to them.”
Howard added: “I didn’t have my best game this game. Very frustrated with everything that’s going on right now, so just got to keep moving.”
That frustration reached its boiling point with four minutes left in regulation, and it got him kicked out of the game. Howard and reserve Cowboys receiver Cedrick Wilson got into a shoving match and officials believed he crossed the line by slapping Wilson’s facemask.
“We talk about keeping our poise, really on a daily basis,” Dolphins coach Brian Flores said. “We can’t get disqualified from a game, that’s something we talk about a lot. ... Hopefully he learns from it.”
Howard said that he was surprised by the ejection but “it is what it is.”
The officials certainly didn’t have their best game, particularly when it came to protecting Dolphins quarterback Josh Rosen. He was hit in the back of his head while sliding — which briefly knocked him from the game — and later blasted on the sidelines while stepping out of bounds. Neither play resulted in a Cowboys flag.
And yet, Howard was the one ejected.
“When you think about it, it may be strange, but that’s the way of the world,” said Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake. “... We didn’t get the call, X got thrown out of the game for whatever reason. Obviously, it was warranted for him to get thrown out of the game. He’s got to use his head a little bit better for that situation. We still need him in the game, no matter what the score is.”