Dallas Cowboys

December 16, 2013

Cowboys focused on fact that they still control their destiny despite epic collapse to Packers

By winning its last two games, Dallas can claim its first division title since 2009.

The TV in the lobby of the team’s Valley Ranch headquarters kept showing the highlights — and lowlights — on ESPN of the Dallas Cowboys’ loss to the Green Bay Packers. It was a game the Cowboys would prefer not to have replayed.

“It’s tough. There’s no question,” tight end Jason Witten said Monday. “You’ve got to be realistic with yourself and say, ‘Well, we’ve got two games left. We win them, we win this division.’ So it does hurt and that’s the reality of it, but we’ve got to be able to bounce back and move forward. If we dwell on it, nobody cares. You’ve got to move forward because if you let it linger into next week then we’ve really got a problem.”

The Cowboys blew a 23-point halftime lead, the second-biggest collapse in team history, in a 37-36 loss to Green Bay. The team watched it again Monday before turning its attention to the Washington Redskins.

Despite the “sky-is-falling” feeling outside the building, little has changed for the Cowboys despite back-to-back losses. The Cowboys still control their destiny.

“We addressed that after the game. We addressed it again this morning,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “One of my jobs is to provide perspective for the team — where we are and where we’re going. That’s where we are. We win two games, we win the NFC East. Prior to [Sunday’s] game, if we won three games we won the NFC East. So we got some help in Minnesota. The Vikings beat Philadelphia. That’s a good thing for our team in dealing with this situation. Having said all that, we’re not really focused on them. We’re focused on us.”

Victories over the Redskins and the Eagles equal a division title, which would be the Cowboys’ first since 2009. Of course, the Cowboys could be eliminated from playoff contention on Sunday with a loss at Washington and a Philadelphia victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday night.

“We still have a chance,” defensive end DeMarcus Ware said. “I feel like God gave us another opportunity to rekindle things and get to where we need to be, and we’ve got to do that. That’s the spark that we’ve still got, of, ‘Hey, if you want it, you still can get it.’ ”

But it’s hard for Cowboys fans to have faith in their team after the past two games.

The Bears beat the Cowboys 45-28 on Dec. 9, and six days later, the Cowboys blew it against the Packers by failing to run out the clock despite a 12-point lead with 7:55 left.

There is plenty of blame to go around.

Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin is being criticized for the 32nd-ranked defense, which is on pace to be one of the worst in NFL history. Jason Garrett is under fire because, well, he’s the head coach. Tony Romo has taken a beating for changing a play call from a run to a pass late in Sunday’s game only to throw an interception. Offensive coordinator Bill Callahan left everyone wondering why he gave DeMarco Murray, who averaged 7.4 yards per attempt, only three carries in the fourth quarter against the Packers.

Still, the Cowboys insist the one thing they haven’t lost is their confidence.

“Believe it or not, we still count on each other,” receiver Dez Bryant said. “It’s not even a second thought. We count on each other. That’s just what that is. And we’re going to keep doing it. We’re going to ride it out until the end.

“We will [get over the hump]. I don’t give up. I won’t give up. I’m not going to hold my head down. I can’t, and I won’t. Like I said, I believe. That’s just how it is.”

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