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“The approach was right. The preparation was right,” he said. “We didn’t handle the situations as well as we needed to, and we lost as a result of that. Hopefully, it can be a great learning situation for our whole football team and we’ll move forward.”

Whether the Cowboys learn from their mistakes will be the ultimate proof of whether Garrett’s way is working. Their next chance to find out is Sunday at San Francisco.

Team owner Jerry Jones also downplayed the negative and pumped up the positive on his radio show Tuesday, especially on the subject of Romo’s performance.

“This may draw a little criticism, but I thought Tony played one of the best games I’ve ever seen him play,” Jones said. “You can make a big case that the way he played for three quarters was how we got there at the end and looked like for sure we were going to get the win. But he played outstanding.”

Jones noted that Romo averages 10 wins for every 16 games he’s started in the NFL. He didn’t mention that Romo has been making the same mistakes he made against the Jets _ fumbling near the goal line when Dallas only needed a field goal to likely secure the win, then having an ill-advised pass intercepted, setting up the game-winning field goal _ for years, most of them with Garrett as his offensive coordinator.

“(Romo) is one of the best assets we have to get us where we want to go,” Jones said. “When you got somebody that can master it you got something special. He is close. Don’t drop Romo. He’s going to be our ticket.”

Being close seems to be the theme right now. The Cowboys believe they just have a few things to clean up and they’ll be contenders again. However, one of those things is handling the pressure when things get tight late and time is running out, and that’s not so easy to learn.

“If you don’t know football and you watched the game, it’s pretty evident _ we have to make the plays in the end,” Brooking said. “That’s the one thing we have to work on.”