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Dallas Cowboys doomed by slow start in defeat

It's becoming increasingly difficult to take the Dallas Cowboys seriously.

Coach Jason Garrett's team could've firmly planted itself in the center of the NFC East race Thursday afternoon. All it had to do was take care of business against the Washington Redskins.

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Instead, quarterback Robert Griffin III made the Cowboys' defense look silly in a 38-31 home loss. The Cowboys' two-game winning streak is caput, as is any momentum as they take another schizophrenic season into December.

This one followed a familiar script. The Cowboys fell behind by multiple scores, only to mount a furious rally that fell short. Tony Romo's second touchdown pass to Dez Bryant brought the Cowboys within 35-28 with eight minutes to play, but Rob Ryan's defense folded again when Dallas needed a stop. Griffin and Alfred Morris marched the Redskins into Cowboys territory, and Kai Forbath sealed the deal with a clutch 48-yard field goal.

"We'll get this (expletive) right, and we'll be back," Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said, via NFL.com's Ian Rapoport.

"I thought we had a good chance," Romo told The Associated Press.

Romo threw two bad interceptions, but he still put up the biggest statistical day of his career, completing 37 of 62 passes for 441 yards and three touchdowns. He did it without wide receiver Miles Austin, who left in the first quarter with a hip injury. The Cowboys also lost cornerback Orlando Scandrick (broken hand) and linebacker Bruce Carter (elbow).

The Cowboys now are 5-6 and can stay within striking distance of first place in the NFC East if the New York Giants can't beat the red-hot Green Bay Packers on Sunday night. But there's mounting evidence the Cowboys won't be able to overcome their penchant for slow starts and mental lapses.

This isn't a smart football team, and it doesn't have enough physical talent across the board to make up for that. The Cowboys still might be alive, but their long-term prognosis isn't good.

Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @danhanzus.

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