For the second straight week, the Dallas Cowboys played on Thursday night and woke up Friday morning disappointed.
The disappointment is turning into frustration, as evidenced by owner Jerry Jones' demeanor on his day-after radio appearance on 105.3 The Fan in which he was less than forgiving with the show's hosts, telling them, "I don't have the patience to jack with you today."
Dallas fell to Chicago Thursday night, 31-24, in a game that got out of hand in the second half, much like the Cowboys' loss to the Buffalo Bills a week earlier. FOX commentators Joe Buck and Troy Aikman noted as much even before the game got away from Dallas, calling it a "carbon copy" of the Week 13 defeat as soon as kicker Brett Maher's first attempt sailed wide right of the goal post.
Maher, who also sent a kickoff out of bounds, was Jones' first target Friday.
"Well, the main thing is, to start with, let's hope that you make some field goals," Jones said when asked if he saw corrections from the previous week. "You get your kicker out there, you have him practice. He's missed 10 this year and I think that's the high for the NFL. Those are important in the momentum of the game, they have been the last two games in particular."
A week after going 0 for 2 (1 for 1 on PATs), Maher posted a line of 1 for 2 (3 for 3 on PATs) in the loss to Chicago. That's an improvement, yes, but the first is the one that is clearly resonating with Jones, who added Dallas won't get any better by signing a different kicker off the street.
That's where every team is at, at this point of the season: You have who you have and have to make the best of that on a weekly basis. The Cowboys, losers of three straight, are clearly not doing that.
"We've got players out there that didn't have a good game last night, hadn't had a good game the last three weeks," Jones said. "We've got to play better, that's all there is to it."
Dallas is still, somehow, in control of its postseason aspirations, thanks to a division that can't quite figure out how to back out of the driveway without hitting both the garbage and recycling cans. At 6-7, the Cowboys will just need to stay in line with or slightly ahead of the 5-7 Eagles, who get a game they should win Monday night against the 2-10 Giants, before they meet in Week 16. This week's Eagles contest is likely to feature the return of Eli Manning for one last go, though, and this is the NFL. Crazier things have happened.
At this point, whichever SUV makes it out of the NFC East with the least amount of dents wins. Jones and his staff will have the offseason to get the body shop work done, but right now, it's about getting to the finish line.
"When you have as many things that were all (as bad) as we had last night, you've got a nice litany of places to start to correct," Jones said. "And just like we all do, you take the ones that are the most obvious that you can do the most about and you correct those to the extent that you can. That's what we tried to do last week and we'll try to do it these next 10 days before we play the Rams."