Here's the situation.
The Cowboys have not been at their best in "situational football," the time of the game when it's late, when each team has the chance to do something to win the game.
Holding a seven-point lead with 10 minutes to go in the fourth quarter of the season opener, the Cowboys committed two turnovers, had a punt blocked and lost.
Holding a 24-point lead with 10 minutes to go in the third quarter in Week 4, the Cowboys committed three turnovers and lost.
But this is also the situation:
The Cowboys have been good at situational football.
At San Francisco, they drove 44 yards to a game-tying field goal and then executed one play to perfection to set up the game-winning field goal.
Against Washington, they drove 76 and 64 yards for two fourth-quarter field goals then forced a turnover on defense to win the game.
So what's the real situation?
"We don't play consistent football for four quarters," linebacker Keith Brooking said. "You can look at it, the two games we won, we probably shouldn't have won. The two games we lost, you walk off the field: 'What just happened to us?'"
After four games, the Cowboys have seen enough to believe they're good. They had a two-touchdown lead in the fourth quarter on the road against the Jets and are tied for third in the league in sacks.
But they also have 10 turnovers in the first four games. Their turnover margin is minus-4. They are in the bottom third of the league in rushing.
"It's a long season," coach Jason Garrett said. "The expression 'It's a marathon, not a sprint' applies to an NFL season. We're four games into it. Some good things have happened, some things that weren't so good also happened. We've got to learn and get better and improve as the season goes on."
Naturally, the Cowboys will try to keep that approach. Garrett will continue to emphasize situational football. But then, he's been emphasizing it since training camp started in San Antonio. That was 10 weeks ago.
"You know, the disappointing part of that is, a lot of those things we've been working on for a long time," tight end Jason Witten said. "We believe we're a good team. We've shown that. We've just got to be more consistent with it. I think that's what this bye week is about, to understand that. Collectively the mindset is that way. It doesn't mean it's going to be easy. We've got a tough opponent in New England next week."
That will be another chance for some situational football.
Answered questions in the first four games:
1. Was Tyron Smith the right pick? The Cowboys knew the 20-year-old had a big upside. They gladly used the No. 9 pick on him and figured on starting him immediately at right tackle. He'd have to learn on the job. Instead, he looks like he's been there for years.
2. Is Sean Lee a playmaker? Two interceptions, two fumble recoveries, four pass breakups and a team-high 47 tackles are about all that can be asked of a second-round pick. Lee has delivered all of it, rewarding the Cowboys for entrusting him with a starting spot.
3. Can Dan Bailey be trusted? For now. Just when you think you have a kicker, he'll start missing when he's not supposed to miss. (Like from 21 yards). But Bailey's made 11 in a row and 12 of 13. That's enough to trust. For now.
4. Will the defense pressure the quarterback? The Cowboys led the NFL in sacks through the first 13 games, and they got them from six players. DeMarcus Ware had five. The next step is to get the secondary in on the party. Danny McCray is the only defensive back with a sack.
Unanswered questions in the first four games:
1. Are the turnovers here to stay? Tony Romo has five interceptions and a fumble in four games. Backup Jon Kitna threw two interceptions in his only appearance. The Cowboys are minus-4 in turnover margin, which is better than only five teams in the league.
2. Can Dez Bryant stay on the field? Good things happen for the Cowboys when their first-round pick from a year ago is on the field. He produces touchdowns and big plays, and as coach Jason Garrett says, affects a game just by breaking the huddle. But he's been playing hurt since the season opener, and he's already missed one game.
3. Who do you trust at No. 3 receiver? Kevin Ogletree is in his third season with the Cowboys, but he still has only 18 career catches and hasn't consistently been in sync with Tony Romo. Last week, fifth-year player Laurent Robinson appeared to move ahead of Ogletree despite being with the Cowboys less than a month. But Robinson made a route mistake that cost the Cowboys a turnover.
4. What will the running game provide? Through four games, the Cowboys gained 3.4 yards per carry. In 101 carries, they have only three runs for more than 10 yards and only one for a touchdown. They are passing 62.6 percent of the time. An imbalance the Cowboys do not want.
Dez Bryant's touchdown over Antonio Cromartie. It was the first touchdown of the season for the Cowboys, and it demonstrated Bryant's ability to go up for the ball and hang on to it on the way down.
Dan Bailey's 48-yarder at San Francisco. It's the longest kick of his career so far, and it had the most riding on it. He made it and forced overtime. A miss would have meant a loss and an 0-2 start.
Jesse Holley's 77-yard catch. He hasn't made another catch since, but Holley will always be able to say he was a big part of one win. His catch and run on the Cowboys' first play of overtime set up the winning field goal.
Anthony Spencer's sack and strip on Monday night. The veteran linebacker looped around the back and closed in on Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman, knocking the ball loose. Sean Lee's recovery sealed an 18-16 victory for the Cowboys.
Linebacker Sean Lee. Team-high 47 tackles, two interceptions, four pass breakups, two fumble recoveries.
Linebacker DeMarcus Ware. Five sacks, 12 quarterback pressures, one tackle for loss.
Tight end Jason Witten. Team highs in catches (27), yards (366) and first-down catches (17).
Kicker Dan Bailey. Good on 12 of 13 kicks, including 11 consecutive, and 5 for 5 from 40 yards or more.