IRVING -- The hapless Cincinnati Bengals were supposed to be the tonic that cured the ailing Dallas Cowboys.
And while the Cowboys got back in the win column with a 31-22 victory at Texas Stadium Sunday to bounce back from last week's loss to the Washington Redskins, all is still not right in Cowboys land.
It was simply not an up-to-standards win for a Cowboys team that admittedly is in the midst of a Super Bowl or bust campaign.
Although the Cowboys got a big effort on the ground -- running backs Marion Barber and Felix Jones combined for 180 yards, including a 33-yard touchdown run from the rookie first-round pick Jones -- the offense lacked rhythm throughout the game.
Quarterback Tony Romo was again slowed by turnovers that led to scores by the Bengals, who rallied from a 17-6 halftime deficit.
The Bengals got as close as 17-16 and then 24-22 in the fourth quarter before the Cowboys put them away.
With the Arizona Cardinals, St. Louis Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coming up in the next three weeks, the Cowboys have a chance to get back on the roll.
After those three games, they'll travel to New York for a showdown against the defending Super Bowl champion Giants, who are still undefeated and playing like the best team in the league.
Things started off well enough for the Cowboys.
Linebacker Greg Ellis intercepted Carson Palmer on the first play of the game.
It was the first interception of the season for the Cowboys defense.
The Cowboys settled for Nick Folk's 30-yard field goal.
A 33-yard touchdown run by Felix Jones gave the Cowboys a 10-0 lead.
And then it was soon 17-0 after a 4-yard touchdown pass from Tony Romo to tight end Jason Witten.
But something happened enroute to a potential Cowboys rout: the offense grew stagnant and allowed he bungling Bengals to stick around.
Two field goals, including a gift following a Romo fumble right before the half, kept them within striking distance at 17-6.
It got real interesting in the third quarter when the Bengals marched 75 yards for a touchdown.
The 18-yard touchdown pass from Carson Palmer to T.J. Houshmandzadeh made it 17-13 early in a third, and suddenly it was game again.
An interception off Romo -- his fourth of the season and his eighth in the past eight games, dating back to last season -- resulted in a Bengals field goal, narrowing the score to 17-16.
The Bengals got the ball back when they recovered an onside kick. But the Cowboys defense rose to the occasion when nose tackle Tank Johnson stripped the ball away from Chris Perry. Anthony Spencer recovered for the Cowboys.
Order was seemingly restored on a 57-yard catch and run by Terrell Owens -- just his second catch of the game.
But the Bengals did not go away, as Glenn Holt returned the kickoff 60 yards. Seven plays later, Palmer threw a 10-yard pass to Houshmandzadeh. The two-point try failed leaving the score 24-22 with less than 8 minutes left in the game.
A touchdown pass to T.J. Houhsmandzadeh brought the score to 24-22. However, the Bengals attempt at two-point conversion failed when safety Keith Davis broke up a pass in the end zone.
And that would be it for the Bengals, the Cowboys stepped up with game seven play 80-yard touchdown drive.
It was capped by a 15-yard touchdown that when through the hands of receiver Miles Austin into the waiting arms of Patrick Crayton in the end zone.
A cheer went up among the Texas Stadium crowd, which began heading for the exits.
And smiles were all around on a Cowboys sideline.
But it shouldn't hide the fact that concern remains for a Cowboys team that suddenly has lost its swagger.