IRVING, TEXAS (AP) - Just like that, the Dallas Cowboys are a .500 team again.
While only two games into the new season, this team has insisted things had to different after being distinctly average for so long.
So who are these Cowboys? The team that opened the season by winning on the road against the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, or the team that seemed so listless in Seattle in a 27-7 loss?
“We want to be a team that can go out there and win and be consistent every week,” linebacker Sean Lee said Monday. “That’s the identity we’re working toward, tough, relentless, hard-nosed football team that’s going to be there. We didn’t do that. We didn’t execute and that’s why we lost.”
The Cowboys were down 10-0 less than 5 minutes into Sunday’s game after Felix Jones fumbled away the opening kickoff and Seattle returned a blocked punt for a touchdown. And those were just some of their many mistakes.
There also was an early interception thrown by Tony Romo right to a defender, and several dropped passes by usually reliable tight end Jason Witten.
And the production varied greatly from the opener to game two for running back DeMarco Murray (131 yards rushing to 44) and receiver Kevin Ogletree (eight catches, 114 yards and two TDs to one catch for 26 yards).
Not exactly what was expected for the Cowboys and coach Jason Garrett, who so often talks about consistency and stacking good days on top of each other. He also talks about taking care of the football, playing relentless and being physical.
“Identity is an ongoing thing. It’s an ongoing thing for players, it’s an ongoing thing for a football team,” Garrett said. “At times, we’ve done a really good job playing to that identity and other times we haven’t, but it’s emphasized to our team a lot and we’re trying to get better and better in that.”
Especially after the kind of game they had against the Seahawks, who as Witten put it more strongly, kicked their rear ends.
The Cowboys play their home opener Sunday against Tampa Bay (1-1).
“Sunday can’t get here fast enough,” Witten said. “Today’s an important day of never really getting too high after a big win or too low after a loss. You got to be critical of yourself, you have to evaluate it, win or loss, and get better. I think that’s the approach our team is taking.”
It was the seven-time Pro Bowl tight end who said at the start of training camp that this year “can’t be the same old story.” The Cowboys were 8-8 last season, making them 120-120 over a 15-season span before this year when they had only one playoff victory.
Starting safeties Gerald Sensabaugh (calf) and Barry Church (tight bruise) were hurt Sunday, and Garrett said they were both day-to-day. Sensabaugh was still in a walking boot Monday.
Lee, who was knocked down with his cleats in the air after a crushing block by Golden Tate early in the fourth quarter Sunday, said he felt fine and ready to get back to practice Wednesday.
“The NFL will judge whether that’s legal or not. Whatever it is, I’ll deal with it,” Lee said. “I’m on to the next game. I’m not worried about it. I’m more worried about how we can be better on defense, how we can improve from the mistakes we made.”
While no flag was thrown against Tate, the play will certainly be reviewed by the NFL and could result in a fine. When Garrett was asked if he thought it was a legal block against Lee, the coach said the league does a good job addressing those types of issues.
“These plays happen quickly in games. It’s hard for the ref to see exactly what happen,” Garrett said. “One of the things that the league has talked about is the importance of player safety and defenseless players and we’ve had a lot of discussion about that over the last couple of years. They’ll handle the situation the right way.”