NEWS

Cowboys continue fight to .500

David Moore The Dallas Morning News

FRISCO, Texas (TNS) — Doom and gloom have been pushed to the background for another week.

While the Cowboys first blowout victory of the season didn’t usher in bright skies — when was the last time the sun was seen in North Texas? — it did offer some perspective.

A weak NFC East isn’t the only development to minimize the impact of the Cowboys early season struggles. Dallas carries a 3-3 record into Week 7. How many teams in the conference have won more games?

Two. The Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans.

That’s it.

The Cowboys have not scaled the September and mid-October heights the organization or its fans had hoped. But a 40-7 win over Jacksonville helped ease any doubts that had begun to take root about the state of the offense.

“We haven’t questioned anything inside,” quarterback Dak Prescott said. “We leave the questioning to you all (media).

“We’ve known, I’ve told you from after the first week or the second week, we weren’t doing as well or performing to our standards. We were one to two plays away, the difference (Sunday) was we made those plays. We still missed a deep ball here, a play there that allows this offense to be that much more explosive.

“We know what we have, we know what we’ve got. It’s important for us to stick together, to stay confident and know the team that we have. It was great to go out there and put it on display.”

Critics wail after losses about what Jason Garrett doesn’t do for this team. But here’s a trend that’s evolved throughout his coaching career that doesn’t get enough credit.

The Cowboys are 14-2 in games that can pull the team back to .500. Sunday’s win over the Jaguars was the third time it happened this season.

The last time Dallas failed to win a game that would stabilize its record came in the team’s loss to New England on Oct. 11, 2015. By that point of the season quarterback Tony Romo was out with a broken collarbone and the Cowboys were on their way to a 4-12 record.

Blocking out the noise and negativity that swirls outside this team after losses has been one of its strengths under Garrett.

“I think our team does a really good job staying locked into ourselves and what we need to do,” Garrett said. “Whatever noise you might be referring to, we never really get caught up in that. We just lock in and come to work.

“It’s a good young team. You try to instill that in these guys and they’ve responded well to that. I think this week was a good indication of that.”

Climbing back to .500 doesn’t capture the imagination like winning a division title or a playoff game. As super powers go, it falls in the lame category.

But don’t diminish the ability of a team to refuse to go south. Time and time again under Garrett — and this team continues the culture in place — the Cowboys remain competitive and give themselves a chance going forward.

That took place again Sunday afternoon at AT&T Stadium.

“I’m going to reiterate, that’s just the type of guys we have,” running back Ezekiel Elliott said. “We’re all overly accountable.”

Next up: Washington. The only team ahead of the Cowboys in the division is 3-2. A Cowboys team that’s winless on the road must travel to the East Coast for this game.

No one is ready to proclaim the Cowboys have turned a corner. But a win over Washington would give Dallas its first winning streak in 10 months and allow the team to go into the bye week with a winning record.

“I think we’re confident as a group,” Pro Bowl guard Zack Martin said. “I think we do a good job of not letting the outside world dictate how we are as a team. We know we have all the pieces, and I think we showed that (Sunday).

“Now we’ve just got to put it together on the road.”