As a group, teammates and coaches, the Dallas Cowboys all tried to say the right thing after Sunday’s game.
The injured quarterback. The pass receiver who now has to carry the load. The head coach who now has to convince his team that, even with its two best offensive players injured, the championship march will go on.
“I think the story of the day was the defense,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said, attempting to find a positive spin.
But leave it to the owner.
When asked how he felt when he saw quarterback Tony Romo injured in the third quarter, owner Jerry Jones did not mince his metaphors.
“Just about as low as a crippled cricket’s ass,” Jones said.
“I was feeling sorry for myself. I thought the world was picking on me.”
But this is, no question about it, a real disappointment.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on the injury to Tony Romo
As Owner Jones knows, this was supposed to be the Cowboys’ season, the year when all the championship pieces were finally back in place — an experienced quarterback, a steel wall of an offensive line, an improved and deeper defense.
But all that became shrouded in doubt in the third quarter when the Philadelphia Eagles’ Jordan Hicks landed hard on Romo’s shoulder, breaking his clavicle. In back-to-back weeks, the Cowboys have lost their No. 1 quarterback and their best receiver with fractures.
Jones turns 73 in about three weeks. His Super Bowl clock is ticking away more loudly with each passing season. And, frankly, at age 35, so is Romo’s.
“The NFL really is about adversity in general,” Romo said after the game, his damaged arm in a sling.
“It’s about how you handle it, how you approach it on a day-to-day basis, individually and as a team.”
Those were brave words. But even escaping with a 20-10 victory to raise their record to 2-0 couldn’t disguise the cloud that seemed to hang over the Cowboys’ locker room.
The NFL really is about adversity in general. It’s about how you handle it, how you approach it on a day-to-day basis, individually and as a team.
Both Romo and receiver Dez Bryant are expected to be out for at least two months. There is no way for Jones or Garrett to minimize that.
Garrett was asked if he felt his team was “snake bitten” after the two injuries.
“We just focus on what we do,” Garrett said, dodging the question. “Guys stepped up. The guys that went in for them were the guys that made significant plays throughout the ball game.”
Jones said he, of all people, knows better than to expect sympathy.
“But this is, no question about it, a real disappointment,” Jones said. “There’s no question it’s a setback. But the good news is we’ve got the makeup of a team, one of the youngest teams in the NFL.
“This team will handle some adversity.”
And maybe it will. But remove a top-10 quarterback and his best pass-catching deep threat from any NFL team’s lineup, and see how long you can keep treading water.
“You just never would have thought after two ball games to be sitting here without Tony Romo and Dez Bryant,” Owner Jones said.
“On the other hand, this is the life we’ve chosen. And we know good and well that this can happen to you.”
In the Cowboys locker room — as quiet a locker room as you could ever imagine after beating the rival Eagles — players spoke bravely about the challenges ahead.
Brandon Weeden will do well, Garrett asserted, because “That’s his job.”
Maybe so, but the quiet of the locker room hinted of the concern.
You could almost hear that cricket.
Gil LeBreton, 817-390-7697