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Cowboys: All style, no substance

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Let's look at the bright side: The grand opening of the first lingerie store at a football stadium was a smashing success.

Too bad the Dallas Cowboys got exposed and were stripped of their dignity after kickoff Monday night.

Businessman Jerry Jones was just tickled about the Victoria's Secret Pink store he considers "cute as a bug," but the wannabe football man was red-faced after his team got squashed Monday night. The Chicago Bears' 34-18 win really wasn't as close as the final score looked.

"We got beat soundly," Jones said. "That's all there is to it. It's very disappointing."

Jones also mentioned how surprised he was, which can be considered evidence that he's deep in denial. America's Team has turned into the epitome of a mediocre franchise, an even .500 over the past 15 seasons and change, living up to those standards with a 2-2 start this year.

How could the owner/GM have possibly seen a blowout coming? Well, he could have paid attention to two of his team's previous four games, which the Cowboys lost by more than two scores. That dates back to last season's finale, when a team Jerry considered a Super Bowl contender no-showed with a playoff berth at stake.

The Cowboys are kind of like those frilly panties for sale on the main concourse club near Entry A: major sex appeal, but not much substance.

That's not a knee-jerk conclusion based on one awful performance, an embarrassment on national television, as cornerback Brandon Carr correctly called it. It's a reputation the Cowboys have carved out over a decade and a half since their dynasty died.

It's silly to argue that the Cowboys are progressing under head coach Jason Garrett. After all, they've followed up an 8-8 season in his first full year as the head coach with a 2-2 start that included being on the butt end of two blowouts.

And Garrett's offense is abysmal despite a bunch of big-name skill players. The only reason Dallas doesn't rank last in the league in scoring is because backup quarterback Kyle Orton, who took over after Tony Romo became the first active quarterback with two five-pick performances, led a meaningless touchdown drive after most of the Cowboys fans headed for the parking lots.

"That's what happens when you don't give them nothing to cheer for," Carr said of the fans fleeing for the exits midway through the fourth quarter. "They paid their hard-earned money and weren't satisfied. We weren't satisfied, either."

(The thousands of Bears fans in attendance enjoyed every second of the win. Many of these folks stuck around for the postgame party that promoter Jerry had in one of the stadium's plazas.)

With Romo at the helm behind a bad offensive line, the Cowboys' offense has scored only one touchdown in each of the past three games. With pick-sixes by Chicago's Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs, Romo has thrown as many touchdowns to opponents as teammates during that span.

"You can't get frustrated. You can't. You just can't," said Dez Bryant, who might have had the worst 105-yard receiving performance in NFL history with critical drops and a mental bust that led to Tillman's touchdown. "It's still a long season. I feel like we're getting better and we're going to continue to get better."

Continue to get better? C'mon, man.

Romo will rightfully get ripped for the next two weeks, but Bryant ought to be considered the Cowboys' poster boy. For all the talk about his potential, it'd be silly to claim there are signs of progress. He's the Paris Hilton of the NFL at this point: famous for being famous, not for anything he's done on the football field.

There better be some soul-searching done over the next two weeks before the Cowboys start a stretch of four road trips in a five-game span. And the offensive coaches better figure out how to get all those big names to put points on the scoreboard.

But it's hard to believe that the Cowboys can fix their biggest flaw in a couple of weeks. This offensive line just isn't good enough. And that puts pressure on Romo to be superhuman, which means he tries to do too much, which gives the opposing defense opportunities to outscore the Cowboys' offense (garbage time not included).

"In no way am I thinking that we have got anything terminal with our season," Jones said. "I don't think that at all. I think this is a bitter, disappointing loss for us. Do I think this is a loss that we can move on past and look forward? Yes, I do. Absolutely."

The Cowboys are probably looking forward to another .500 season. Maybe, with the parity of today's NFL, they can even find a way to sneak into the playoffs.

But the Cowboys' chances of being Super Bowl champions are slimmer than those Victoria's Secret models who showed up at JerryWorld to look cute and cut a ribbon.