Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones felt he needed to talk with his players after the latest blowout loss as a season that started with Super Bowl dreams is now on the brink of disaster.
The Cowboys had their third consecutive 20-point loss, as Philip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers rolled to a 28-6 victory on Thanksgiving Day.
It dropped the Cowboys to 5-6 on the season and their playoff chances to 7.2 percent, according to MakeNFLPlayoffs.com.
Jones didn’t want to go into much detail about his speech, but the players described it mostly as positive reinforcement.
“Stay focused, you know. Be thankful. It is Thanksgiving,” running back Rod Smith said. “But basically pick it up. We know we’re better than these teams we’re losing to, but we’ve got to find a way to go out there and win in the second half.”
Said defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford, “It was definitely a message of support. He told us just to sit back and take a look at ourselves; take a look at what is around us and see how blessed we are on this Thanksgiving Day. And, you know, just to go into next week knowing that we’re super blessed to be in this position and take advantage of it.”
The Cowboys have been within one score, or leading, at halftime in all three of the lopsided losses to the Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles and Chargers.
The players are adamant they aren’t going to lose motivation even though the playoffs are a long shot at this point.
“Win, lose or draw, you’ve got to stay motivated,” right tackle La’el Collins said. “Your focus has to got to get better. You’ve got to be locked in even more now. Finish strong and see what happens.”
Added defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence: “This is our job. This is what we love to do. If you’re not motivated to go out there and play this sport, you shouldn’t be playing it. This is our life. This is what we’re here for.”
Questions about the coaching staff and personnel will become storylines for the rest of the season. But the Cowboys won’t let those become a distraction.
“They get paid every week and I get paid to coach football,” defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. “That shouldn’t even come into the equation.”
Martin, Durant concussed
The Cowboys continue to have key players sustain injuries.
Right guard Zack Martin and linebacker Justin Durant each exited with concussions. Martin sustained his in the first half and was replaced by Joe Looney. Durant suffered his in the second half.
On the positive injury front, left tackle Tyron Smith, kicker Dan Bailey, linebacker Anthony Hitchens and safety Jeff Heath all played the entire game after dealing with injuries of late.
“I made it through the game, that’s a plus,” Hitchens said. “But I’m going to be in tomorrow. Continue getting treatment so I can be right for next week.”
Tight end Jason Witten has another record.
Witten became the all-time leader in receiving yards on Thanksgiving Day, passing longtime Detroit receiver Herman Moore. Witten broke Moore’s record of 834 yards with a 4-yard catch late in the first half.
Witten already had the holiday record for most receptions (80) and needed just 26 receiving yards to pass Moore heading into the game. He finished with seven catches for 44 yards.
“Thanksgiving is always special,” Witten said earlier this week. “One of the biggest blessings I can think of playing for the Cowboys is every Thanksgiving having an opportunity to put that star on your helmet.”