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Cowboys desperately need a win before Romo’s return

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IRVING, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys are desperate and find themselves in must-win mode.

They have lost five straight games since quarterback Tony Romo went down in Week 2. The latest loss was a 13-12 setback to the Seattle Seahawks.

The Cowboys remain in last place in the NFC East, but with the Giants losing to the Saints on Sunday, the Cowboys stand only one game back in the loss column. The Redskins and the Eagles are only a game ahead of Dallas, which has a 2-1 division record. In any other division except the AFC South, the Cowboys would find themselves three or four games out of first place.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was asked Sunday if he felt “fortunate” still to have a shot at the division title despite his team’s misfortunes.

“I’ll go with you on the fortunate thing if you let me say how unfortunate it was that we’ve got this fortunate by how others are playing,” Jones said Sunday. “I’ll go with you there, if you’ll go with me that it’s unfortunate we’ve got to depend upon the consequences of these other ballgames to have something positive. Obviously this is quite a different visit I’m having here with you than I thought I would be after seven ballgames.”

Romo is expected back Nov. 22, but the Cowboys need to win now to have something to play for when he returns.

Since 2002, when the league went to the current divisional alignment, the NFC East winner has gone 10-6 or better all but once. The 2011 Giants won the division with a 9-7 mark but went on to win Super Bowl XLVI.

If the Cowboys lose the next two, they will sport a 2-7 record when Romo returns. That would leave them little room for error in the final seven games of the season.

“We’re just focused on winning this ballgame this week,” Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said. “That’s really the approach we always take. We’re focused on this game, regardless of who the opponent is. Obviously, when it’s a division opponent and a win for us and a loss for them, it’s a good thing. We get that; we live in the real world. But we just got to focus on ourselves, and we’ve got to focus on each day for our preparation to get ready to play our best football Sunday night.”

REPORT CARD VS. Seahawks

–RUSHING OFFENSE: C. Darren McFadden rushed 20 times for 64 yards, and he ran tough against a stingy run defense. Christine Michael added 20 yards on five carries. Quarterback Matt Cassel had a huge impact with four carries for 43 yards on scrambles from the pocket. The Cowboys still didn’t run well enough to win and couldn’t make a difference on the ground in the red zone.

–PASSING OFFENSE: F. Quarterback Matt Cassel didn’t thrown an interception but his performance was worse than it was in the three-pick meltdown against the Giants a week ago. Cassel completed just 13 passes for 97 yards. Dez Bryant caught just two passes for 12 yards in his first game in seven weeks. Cole Beasley didn’t catch a pass for the second straight week.

–RUN DEFENSE: B. The Cowboys were solid against the run, limiting Marshawn Lynch to 71 yards on 21 carries. Russell Wilson got 32 yards on scrambles and zone reads. But the defense stoned the run well enough to win.

–PASS DEFENSE: C. Russell Wilson passed for just 210 yards and had an interception. But he threw a 22-yard touchdown pass in a blown coverage by safety Barry Church. The Cowboys recorded no sacks in the game against a quarterback who has been sacked a ton this season. Wilson also made too many plays with his feet and arm while converting third downs on the final game-winning field-goal drive.

–SPECIAL TEAMS: A. Dan Bailey kicked four field goals, including a 52-yarder. Chris Jones averaged 47 yards on four punts, and David Irving blocked a field goal.

–COACHING: D. Jason Garrett has now lost five straight games as a head coach. The Cowboys have regressed on offense with Matt Cassel. They failed to score a touchdown for the second straight home game and second in the last three games.


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