Loss slaps Cowboys with reality

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The stench of mediocrity envelopes Jerry Jones' football team.

Jason Garrett is too busy sticking to his talking points about playing hard and building on the positives to acknowledge it publicly.

But that's OK, you don't need confirmation from the head coach to recognize losing football -- not when Garrett's team frequently puts on a wonderful display each week of just how to do it.

Pre-snap penalties, dumb penalties, turnovers, botched assignments, missed tackles. And that's just off the top of my head.

If you cheer for the Dallas Cowboys, it's time for you to deal with the reality of this season. It's going to end exactly like last season. And the one before that. This team ain't going to the playoffs.

Whenever it finally becomes official, it'll be four times in five seasons the Cowboys have missed the playoffs as this franchise continues its descent into NFL irrelevance.

Washington 38, Dallas 31 on Thanksgiving Day.

All you really need to know is 10 wins virtually guarantee an NFL team a spot in the playoffs, and teams with nine wins can get in based on tiebreakers. No tangible evidence exists to make us think the Cowboys can win their last five games, or even go 4-1, and insert themselves into the playoff conversation.

Another year of DeMarcus Ware, Jason Witten and Tony Romo in their primes wasted.

"All I can do is sit here and look at the numbers. I can't enthusiastically say anything about our odds," Jerry said. "It looks to me like our best opportunity is to end up with the best record in the NFC East.

"I don't know what that's gonna be. I don't know if 8-8 will get it there or not and I sure don't know if we're going to be 8-8."

Finally, a smidgen of truth.

And another truthful nugget from Romo, forced to throw 62 times because this team is incapable of running the ball: He has thrown more than 40 passes five times this season.

Dallas is 1-4 in those games.

"We have to find a way to do things better," Romo said. "There are some things that everyone can see that we need to do better. We need to play better.

"We can be proud of the effort, but we have to figure out how to win. It's about winning and losing."

We knew the offense would struggle against Washington because injuries have ravaged the offensive line. Mackenzy Bernadeau is the third center Garrett has used this season.

Jermey Parnell made the first start of his career at right tackle in place of injured Tyron Smith. Felix Jones, playing with two sore knees, started at running back and finished with 14 yards on six carries.

Miles Austin left with a hip injury in the first half, which meant Dwayne Harris, Cole Beasley and Andre Holmes were on the field when the Cowboys went to formations with four receivers.

They entered Sunday's game with a combined nine career receptions.

Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan's unit needed to lead the way if the Cowboys were going to win their third consecutive game. They were helpless against Robert Griffin III.

The result: The Cowboys were booed off the field at halftime, trailing 28-3 to a Redskins team that had lost three of its past four games.

Shameful. Embarrassing. Pathetic.

The Cowboys led 3-0 after the first quarter, then Griffin and his receivers overwhelmed them.

Griffin, who throws the prettiest deep ball you'll ever see, completed a 68-yard touchdown to former SMU receiver Aldrick Robinson for a 7-3 lead.

Then the game changed.

On third-and-2 from the Dallas 46, Dez Bryant caught a slant for the first down but fumbled when Josh Wilson put his helmet on the ball. Six plays later, the Redskins led 14-3 on Alfred Morris' 1-yard touchdown run.

By the time the half ended, Griffin had thrown touchdown passes of 59 and 6 yards to Pierre Garcon and Santana Moss, respectively, as the lead swelled to 28-3.

"I was in awe of RG3 and the plays he was making," Jerry said of the rookie quarterback. "They made some great catches. They made some great plays. It was unbelievable.

"There are a lot of Redskins that will have me sad tonight after the way they played."

We shouldn't be surprised by the Cowboys' sorry performance at home since they're just 15-14 in three seasons and five games. Dallas, 2-3 at Cowboys Stadium this season, has lost five of its past seven home games.

This season, the Cowboys have trailed in each home game. They fell behind Tampa Bay 7-0, Chicago 24-7, the New York Giants 23-0, Cleveland 13-0 and Washington 28-3.

Jerry can deny it forever -- and he will -- but as long as Garrett's team continues to play bad football, the noise surrounding the coach's job security will remain.

Until Sean Payton signs a deal with the New Orleans Saints, he's absolutely in play to be the Cowboys' coach next season.

After the game ended, Garrett said exactly what you knew he'd say. He talked about how hard the Cowboys battled and the positives he saw.

Blah, blah, blah.

In a season headed nowhere, folks want a different message. As usual, Garrett and his team gave them more of the same.