Cowboys, citing tough early schedule, think they can still win big down stretch

Posted Monday, Nov. 05, 2012  comments  Print Reprints
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IRVING -- The Dallas Cowboys lost to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday night after losing to the New York Giants the previous week. They also lost to the Ravens, Bears and Seahawks. Oh, my!

Dallas sits 3-5 this season, has lost nine of its past 13 games and is only 16-16 since Jason Garrett took over as head coach midway through the 2010 season.

The only thing the Cowboys haven't lost is their faith.

"This is a game of football," Cowboys safety Danny McCray said Monday. "You want to win each game, but sometimes you go through these stretches where you lose a lot. It doesn't show that we're not listening to the coach or his message isn't getting across. We just haven't won the game.

"We believe in our coach, and he believes in us. So us losing a game has nothing to do with us not listening to what he is saying."

The day after the Cowboys' 19-13 loss to the Falcons, Garrett implored his team to stay the course and block out external noise. That includes Garrett's future, which became a much talked-about subject since Sunday when ESPN first reported that the NFL voided Sean Payton's coaching contract with the New Orleans Saints.

Garrett said the Cowboys are focused only on the Philadelphia Eagles, their next opponent.

"What we're focused on is being our best, and we know what we have in our locker room, and we feel good about that," Garrett said. "We need to play better. We need to play better on offense, defense and in the kicking game. We need to coach better.

"We just need to get focused on Philadelphia."

The Cowboys rank sixth in total offense and fifth in total defense. But they are averaging only 18.8 points per game, 26th in the league. They are tied for 27th in red-zone efficiency, scoring 11 touchdowns on 25 possessions inside the opponents' 20. They have 19 giveaways, only eight takeaways and their minus-11 turnover margin is second-worst in the league. And only three teams have more than the Cowboys' 61 penalties.

Garrett said he believes they are close to getting the desired results.

One of the reasons for optimism is the Cowboys' schedule gets easier in the second half. Their first-half opponents, including the Giants twice, are 44-23. Their remaining eight opponents, including the Washington Redskins and Eagles twice, were 25-42 before the Eagles' Monday night game against New Orleans. The Steelers (5-3) are the only opponent left on the schedule that has a winning record.

"I feel like we've played some good opponents," Garrett said. "If you look at the opponents we've played, the five losses that we have are against all good football teams. I think three of them at their place. We've done some things that would make you think we could win those ballgames. Ultimately, we didn't get the job done.

"... But there are a lot of teams that are close. You've got to finish the job. You got to win the game. I think we can look back at those games and say, 'Boy, if we done this, this or this, we would've won this ballgame.' We've got to make sure we do that the next time around."

Charean Williams

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