Cowboys almost out of time to keep hope alive without Romo

November 2, 2015

IRVING, Texas (AP) -- The Dallas Cowboys are running out of chances to stay in contention for the NFL playoffs without injured quarterback Tony Romo, and owner Jerry Jones is running out of optimism.

"To be realistic, it's going to be a daunting task, even with Romo, to get our feet back under us," Jones said after the fifth straight loss without his star quarterback, 13-12 to Seattle on Sunday. "Obviously, we think we'll play better when we get Romo back."

The problem is, the games might not matter much if Dallas doesn't win now.

Even executive vice president Stephen Jones acknowledged not long after Romo broke his left collarbone in Week 2 that the Cowboys would have difficulty defending their NFC East division title if they didn't pick up a couple wins in their seven games without Romo.


Dallas (2-5) is down to just two more chances to win at least one, starting Sunday with division rival Philadelphia. It will be DeMarco Murray's first game in Dallas since the 2014 NFL rushing champion left the Cowboys in the offseason for the Eagles. Then, the Cowboys pay a visit to Tampa Bay.

If they don't beat Philadelphia, the Cowboys' skid will reach six games. It would be their longest losing streak since their 1-15 debacle season in 1989, the year Jerry Jones bought the team. But one thing Dallas does have going for it: the other three NFC East teams each have four losses.

"Within our division, you have to realize that there is hope," said Matt Cassel, who has lost two games filling in for Romo after Brandon Weeden lost the first three starts following the injury.

The only time the Cowboys didn't really have a shot to win was a blowout by undefeated New England. Otherwise, they've had second-half leads in all four games -- and critical letdowns at key points from all three phases of the game.

Against Seattle, Dallas was held without a touchdown for the second time in three games after going four years without that happening under Romo.

Even when Greg Hardy's interception of Russell Wilson gave the Cowboys the ball at the Seattle 16-yard line in the fourth quarter, they had to settle for a field goal and a 12-10 lead.

"You need to take the ball away, you need to secure the ball, you need to make some big plays and do some things that change the game," said Jason Garrett, whose longest losing streak in five years as coach was two games before this season.

Dallas' previous win came against the Eagles, but it was costly because of Romo's injury. Seven weeks later, the team's postseason hopes could ride on the rematch.

"The urgency has always been at a high level," tight end Jason Witten said. "There's not a hidden secret to winning in this league."


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