Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys hoping for season-saving turnaround after 2-6 start

After seven weeks with Matt Cassel, left, or Brandon Weeden, right, under center, the Cowboys are hoping that Tony Romo’s return will salvage the season.
After seven weeks with Matt Cassel, left, or Brandon Weeden, right, under center, the Cowboys are hoping that Tony Romo’s return will salvage the season. Star-Telegram

The Dallas Cowboys did not see a 2-6 record coming.

They didn’t envision Pro Bowl receiver Dez Bryant breaking a bone in his right foot in the season opener.

They couldn’t have fathomed quarterback Tony Romo fracturing his collarbone in Week 2.

They certainly didn’t dream of the nightmare scenario of winning their first two games and then losing the next six.

And that’s not even considering the endless controversies and distractions involving defensive end Greg Hardy, recently released running Joseph Randle and Bryant’s long-running feud with the media.

Or the disappointment in a rebuilt and heavily financed defense that doesn’t turn the ball over, can’t get to the quarterback and has been unable to get key stops when it matters the most.

To say the Cowboys have been blindsided by the first eight games of the season would be an understatement of epic proportions.

Well, it feels like 1989 and it seems like we can’t buy a turnover and we can’t seemingly get ourselves in position to win one of these ballgames.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones

This is a team that entered the season brimming with optimism and confidence after last season’s 12-4 campaign and talking of making a run to the Super Bowl for the first time in 20 years.

Now, the Cowboys sit in last place in the NFC East, hoping for a miracle run in the second half to salvage their season and playoff chances. The Cowboys are riding their first six-game losing streak since they went 1-15 in 1989.

“No, I didn’t expect to lose, with our roster, six games. I didn’t expect to lose Romo after the second game,” owner Jerry Jones said. “A lot of people lose players and a lot of people win games. We’re very disappointed for everybody concerned we hadn’t won more games.

“Well, it feels like 1989 and it seems like we can’t buy a turnover and we can’t seemingly get ourselves in position to win one of these ballgames.”

No team since 1990 has opened the season 2-6 and made the playoffs. The Cowboys are hopeful they can right themselves in the second half because of Romo’s return for the Nov. 22 game against the Miami Dolphins and the overall mediocrity of the NFC East.

Star-Telegram beat writers Clarence Hill and Charean Williams discuss the fallout from wide receiver Dez Bryant's latest tussle with the media and Cowboys' coach Jason Garrett's reaction to it. Video by Drew Davison.

The New York Giants lead the way with a 5-4 record but have challenging games down the stretch. The Cowboys believe 9-7 or even 8-8 could be enough to get into the thick of the division race. But that means going 7-1 or 6-2 the rest of the way.

Five teams in NFL history have won their division with a .500 record or worse, including four since the league went to eight four-team divisions. The last was Carolina, which won the NFC South last season with a 7-8-1 record.

“It’s numbers,” Jones said. “Now, it’s more than numbers if we don’t play well. This defense has got to step up and we’ve got to have some plays. And that’s what is frustrating to some degree because we thought when we get Romo back we’ll have a defense that’s really, really clicking. And then we’ve got the measure of success and got a chance.

“But I will say this. We have a chance, but the room to get it is narrow, narrow, and narrow.”

Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5) is a must-win if the Cowboys hope to have a chance at something to play for when Romo returns.

“We’re still in the hunt in the division, but our focus right now is on trying to get one win,” tight end Jason Witten said. “We’ll worry about next week when we get there with [Romo] coming back.”

Clarence Hill: 817-390-7760, @clarencehilljr

Veteran NFL analyst Vivian does not think the Cowboys will win without Tony Romo but will make the playoffs (video by Mac Engel/Star-Telegram).

Cowboys at Buccaneers

Noon today, KDFW/4

Cowboys at Buccaneers

Noon today

TV/Radio: KDFW/4, KRLD/105.3 FM, KMVK/107.5 FM (Spanish)

The line: TB by 1

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