ARLINGTON, Texas — Jerry Jones, and Cowboys fans, were desperate for a change from the Jason Garrett regime.
On Sunday at AT&T Stadium, Mike McCarthy distinguished himself from his predecessor.
Jason Garrett’s Cowboys, in nine full seasons, never opened a season 1-3. But the Cowboys fell to that mark—and are a miraculous onside kick away from 0-4—for the first time since 2010. The Browns traveled down to North Texas and thoroughly exposed a Cowboys team that had already spouted leaks.
Cleveland exploded for a 49-38 win to improve to 3-1.
A Cowboys offensive line that hasn’t compensated for the losses of center Travis Frederick (retired) and right tackle La’el Collins (season-ending hip surgery) met Browns defensive end Myles Garrett, who sacked Prescott for a loss of 11 on the second play of the game and strip-sacked the quarterback in the second quarter, the first of two consecutive Dallas fumbles off which Cleveland scored touchdowns.
A Cowboys defense that has acknowledged its struggles with discipline, communication and missed assignments ceded a pair of first-half touchdowns to Odell Beckham Jr. Credit fellow receiver Jarvis Landry, who tossed a 37-yard scoring strike to Beckham for the Browns’ first points.
“Anything they’ve seen that hurt us, we would assume they’re going to have it scripted up in some style or form,” cornerback Daryl Worley had said Thursday. “Some type of mismatch thing that will resemble it.”
Cue Beckham’s third touchdown, for 50 yards on the first play of the fourth-quarter drive that followed the Cowboys climbing from 24 points down to 3 points. The Cowboys blocked Cody Parkey’s subsequent kick only to lose the recovery, which Cleveland returned for a bizarre 2-point conversion.
Records continue to drop on both sides of the ball. Prescott became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 450 yards in three consecutive games, and his 1,690 yards through four games blew past Kurt Warner’s previous records of 1,557. But an interception by Browns cornerback Denzel Ward with under 2 minutes to play negated the stat Prescott will repeatedly say is most important to him: a win.
Wins have eluded a Dallas team that now posts its first 1-3 record since the year Jones fired coach Wade Phillips midseason. Garrett was named the interim coach in 2010 and led the Cowboys for nearly a decade afterward.
The Cowboys will welcome him, and the Giants whose offense Garrett coordinates, next week.
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein.