Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys vow to continue fighting despite slim playoff hopes

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Matt Cassel’s 73.5 passer rating ranks 31st in the NFL.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Matt Cassel’s 73.5 passer rating ranks 31st in the NFL. Star-Telegram

The Dallas Cowboys wear T-shirts that bear the word “Fight” on them.

Jason Garrett promises the team will live up to that mantra despite being all but mathematically eliminated from the postseason.

“I thought we fought well [Sunday] in the game,” the Cowboys coach said Monday. “They were doing some things to us in all three phases that were challenging, but our guys just kept battling; they kept fighting. We had a legitimate chance to win that game if we had gotten a stop late on that last drive, inside of five minutes.

“So the makeup of the guys on our football team is outstanding. The football character is outstanding. They come to work. They practice hard. They play hard. So I don’t expect anything different. The approach we’re going to take as coaches is come on in here. We’re going to have a great Tuesday and get ready for this game on Saturday night, and we expect our guys to respond the right way.”

The Cowboys remain last in the NFC East, two games out of first place with three to play. The Redskins and the Eagles both won Sunday before the Cowboys lost to the Packers 28-7 in something akin to an elimination game.

Dallas needs a miracle to make the postseason for the second consecutive season.

Still, no matter how slim their chances, the Cowboys will continue to play as if they have something on the line.

The Cowboys will continue to carry starting quarterback Tony Romo on the 53-player roster, Garrett said, and Kellen Moore will stay on the sideline behind Matt Cassel.

Young players Geoff Swaim, Brice Butler, Mark Nzeocha, Chaz Green and Deji Olatoye, all of whom were inactive Sunday, will continue to bide their time.

“The objective of our football team is to do everything we can to win this game on Saturday night,” Garrett said of the home game against the Jets. “That’s where our focus is, and we’re going to play the guys that we think give us the best chance to do that.”

The Cowboys are 1-8 in the nine games without Romo. They average 16.1 points per game without Romo, with only 13 touchdowns in those nine games. They average 315.6 total yards and 187.9 passing yards without Romo.

“We’ve done some good things offensively at different times this year,” Garrett said. “But we haven’t been consistent enough in our execution and haven’t made the plays necessary. One of the areas we have to continue to focus on to get better is just situational football. We talked about the third downs.

“But when you get down in the red zone, some of the short-yardage situations, those are critical plays in the game. We haven’t cashed in on those on a consistent enough basis. And that impacts so many of the other things: Your ability to keep a drive alive to get another scoring opportunity. So we’ll continue to focus on those things and certainly try to get better here this week.”

Cassel’s 73.5 passer rating ranks 31st in the NFL, ahead of only Nick Foles (69.0) and Peyton Manning (67.6) among quarterbacks who qualify. He has an average gain of 6.32 — more than 2 yards fewer than NFL-leader Carson Palmer — and five touchdowns and six interceptions.

“He’s done some good things for our team over time that he’s started for us this year,” Garrett said. “We have won a game with him. He’s contributed to putting us in position to win other games that he’s started for us. Has he played perfectly? Absolutely not, and no one knows that more than he does.

“No one knows that more than we do. We’ve got to create an environment for him to be successful and really for guys around him to be successful as well. So that’s the approach that we’re going to take.”

Charean Williams: 817-390-7760, @NFLCharean

Cowboys vs. Jets

7:25 p.m. Saturday,

KTVT/11, NFL Network

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