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Saturday, December 25, 2010
Updated: December 26, 12:59 PM ET
For the record, Cowboys are bad

By Calvin Watkins
ESPNDallas.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- One by one, the players walked out of the locker room with stern looks and bowed heads.

They were directed to get a sandwich before taking a trek to the team bus down a long tunnel in the basement of University of Phoenix Stadium.

When Cowboys players spoke, they all said basically the same thing.

Larry Fitzgerald
More breakdowns by the Cowboys secondary allowed Larry Fitzgerald and the Cardinals to have the final word.
"Same old story," outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware said. "Too many mistakes. We can't miss kicks, we can't give up interceptions, we can't do those types of things. That's just the bottom line as the reason why we lost the game."

The Cowboys suffered an ugly 27-26 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Christmas night that gave Dallas 10 losses on the season and confirmed what we already know: This is a bad football team.

Inconsistency on the defense leading to big plays for the opponent, turnovers, repeat mistakes and a lack of execution are issues that have plagued this 5-10 team.

"We are a 10-loss team," Ware said. "We made mistakes, and that's where we are. We have better guys that can play better, but we're not playing as good as we should be."

The secondary has bothered Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones the entire season. On a 74-yard touchdown pass from Cardinals rookie quarterback John Skelton to rookie receiver Andre Roberts, cornerback Mike Jenkins bit on the play-action and was left out of position. He tried to grab Roberts, who ran right past him.

Safety Alan Ball came over to help, but he took a bad angle on the tackle and missed Roberts, who ran into the end zone.

Big plays, especially against the secondary, have hurt the Cowboys this season. The Cowboys have allowed 52 plays of 20 or more yards this season.

It might be time for the team to go in another direction from Gerald Sensabaugh and Ball at the safety positions. The draft would be a place to start, and depending on how the upcoming collective bargaining agreement goes, there might be a good group of safeties from which to choose in free agency.

Catching the football is another issue for this team. When Tony Romo was the starting quarterback, it wasn't uncommon for tipped balls to turn into interceptions.

On Saturday night, Roy E. Williams couldn't hold a Jon Kitna pass that was thrown slightly behind him, leading to an interception that was returned for a touchdown. Williams wants to return, but his future with the team is in doubt and his inability to make these plays is worrisome.

Miles Austin also had issues. He dropped a deep pass from Kitna and also slipped at the end of a route, leading to another interception that was returned for a score.

Repeat penalties also hurt the Cowboys. Marion Barber snatched his helmet off after a 24-yard touchdown run and drew an excessive-celebration penalty.

It's the third time this season the Cowboys have been flagged for this offense. After Marc Colombo and Sam Hurd were cited earlier in the year under Wade Phillips, the players said they had learned from it.

Did they?

"Barber taking his helmet off, a veteran taking his helmet off. But he was excited about it. I understand," Jones said. "We all understand he jumps in there and what have you, but you lose games doing that."

Jason Garrett, who is now in charge of trying to fix this mess, said that Barber should know better and that it won't happen again.

Really? It's happened three times already.

What Garrett should have done was benched Barber. But Barber was back out there afterward, running the ball for the Cowboys.

The end of this mess revolved around the kicker, David Buehler.

In the offseason, the Cowboys elected to go with Buehler as the kickoff and field goal guy. After such an emotional rally in which the Cowboys came back from a 21-3 deficit to take a 26-24 lead in the fourth quarter, it was up to Buehler to put them up by three.

Buehler was wide left on his point-after attempt, keeping it a two-point game.

The Cardinals rallied on the Cowboys' defense, which needed to make a stop against a rookie quarterback to win it in the end.

It seemed all the mistakes from 2010 came to the forefront again Saturday night.

"We have seen tonight before," Jones said. "That's a fact."

Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his mailbag.