Battered Dallas Cowboys wonder where they go from here

Posted Friday, Nov. 23, 2012  comments  Print Reprints

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

Thanksgiving is over. The Dallas Cowboys have some extra time to think now.

They have five games left, and they will be either one game or two games out of the lead in the NFC East going into December, when their next game rolls around.

But who will be playing in that game?

The Cowboys are afraid they might have lost linebacker Bruce Carter for the season with a dislocated left elbow. They lost defensive end Jason Hatcher, who had two sacks Thursday, to a concussion late in the game. Wide receiver Miles Austin also left the game because of a hip pointer. And cornerback Orlando Scandrick had surgery for a broken hand on Friday and could be lost for the season.

That was on top of the injuries they already carried -- to nose tackle Jay Ratliff, defensive ends Kenyon Coleman and Sean Lissemore, receiver Kevin Ogletree, running back DeMarco Murray, left tackle Tyron Smith, linebacker Sean Lee and centers Phil Costa and Ryan Cook.

"We've got to do like you have to in the NFL -- we have to put guys out there who can make up for them," Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said. "We have no other choice. You just can't manufacture players."

The Cowboys finished the 38-31 Thanksgiving Day loss to the Washington Redskins with a defense that included two players who were unemployed just weeks ago, linebacker Ernie Sims and safety Charlie Peprah. Sims had four tackles, but appeared to make a mistake on a long touchdown pass, and Peprah had three tackles, an interception and a pass breakup.

The Cowboys have also had to use two other street free agents, Eric Frampton and Vince Agnew, on special teams because of injuries. They are thinking about signing another receiver, former Redskin Anthony Armstrong.

"There's a lot of guys that have stepped up and done great jobs, guys that we got off the streets a couple weeks ago, three weeks ago, in there making big-time plays," linebacker Dan Connor said. "We've just got to stay focused. Step up. Learn from it and progress as we finish out the season."

The Cowboys, who resume the season Dec. 2 against the Philadelphia Eagles, will be one game behind the division-leading New York Giants if the Giants lose on Sunday to the Green Bay Packers. If the Giants win, however, the deficit will be two games with five to play. The Giants would be 7-4, with the Cowboys 5-6.

The Cowboys don't play the Giants again and have split the season series. But one more game with the Redskins, the season finale at Washington, remains for the Cowboys.

"It looks like our best opportunity would be to end up with the best record in the NFC East," Jones said. "I don't know what that's going to be. I don't know if 8-8 will get it there or not, and I sure don't know if we're going to be 8-8. I'm not trying to be negative, but we've got to play these guys again. With how impressed I am with how they played, we've got our hands full up there for the last ballgame."

But before the last game matters, the next game has to matter.

"We have no room for any of that talk now," cornerback Brandon Carr said. "Our mindset is just the next game, get better throughout the week and put together a finished product on Sunday and finally give these fans something to cheer for."

For quarterback Tony Romo, it may be time for a mental break.

"I've said this before, but it's just not going to be a fun few days now," Romo said. "It's going to eat at you, and it's just going to consume all your thoughts. ...I'm exhausting my brain thinking about things to do and to help us get off to better starts and to move the ball better.

"It's a long five or six days just with the grind, tape-wise and physically and mentally. It's exhausting in some ways to get yourself ready to go so quick against a defense that does that many things. It's disappointing when you don't come out with a win. At the same time, we've got to put that behind us and get ready for Philadelphia now."

Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7760

Twitter @calexmendez

Looking for comments?

We welcome your comments on this story, but please be civil. Do not use profanity, hate speech, threats, personal abuse, images, internet links or any device to draw undue attention. Our policy requires those wishing to post here to use their real identity.

Our commenting policy | Facebook commenting FAQ | Why Facebook?

Friday, August 22Full Scoreboard
Baltimore1Final | Box
Chicago Cubs «4
Houston «5Final | Box
Chicago WSox3Final | Box
NY Yankees «4
St. Louis4Final | Box
Philadelphia «5
San Francisco «10Final | Box
Tampa Bay «8Final | Box
Seattle «5Final | Box
Atlanta «3Final(12) | Box
Kansas City «6Final | Box
Pittsburgh «8Final | Box
Detroit6Final | Box
Minnesota «20
Miami «13Final | Box
San Diego1Final | Box
Arizona «5
LA Angels3Final | Box
Oakland «5
NY Mets2Final | Box
Los Angeles «6
Full Scoreboard
Friday, August 22Full Scoreboard
No games today
Full Scoreboard
Week 4Full Scoreboard
Pittsburgh21Final | Box
Philadelphia «31
Jacksonville12Final | Box
Detroit «13
Carolina7Final | Box
New England «30
NY Giants «35Final | Box
NY Jets24
Oakland21Final | Box
Green Bay «31
Chicago6Final | Box
Seattle «34
Tampa Bay 4:30 PM ET
Buffalo TV: NFL Network, WFLA
Tennessee 7:00 PM ET
Atlanta TV: WKRN, CW69
Dallas 7:00 PM ET
Miami TV: KTVT, CBS11, CBS4
Washington 7:30 PM ET
Baltimore TV: NBC4, CSN-DC, WBAL
St. Louis 8:00 PM ET
Cleveland TV: WKYC
New Orleans 8:00 PM ET
Indianapolis TV: CBS
Minnesota 8:00 PM ET
Kansas City TV: KARE 11, KCTV
Houston 9:00 PM ET
San Diego 4:00 PM ET
San Francisco TV: FOX
Cincinnati 8:00 PM ET
Arizona TV: NBC
Full Scoreboard
Friday, August 22Full Scoreboard
No games today
Full Scoreboard