Cowboys closing in on addressing mess that was 2015 season

IRVING, Texas (AP) Dallas owner and general manager Jerry Jones uncharacteristically declined to talk to reporters after the loss to Buffalo on Sunday.

Executive vice president of personnel Stephen Jones didn't want to discuss much beyond the meaningless finale against Washington.

The Cowboys will have to address the mess of 2015 soon enough, which coach Jason Garrett seemed to recognize Monday even though he's generally inclined to avoid the subject of the future.

''I think you have to have convictions about what you're doing,'' Garrett said a day after a 16-6 loss to Buffalo that guaranteed the most losses for Dallas (4-11) since the last of three straight 5-11 seasons in 2002.

''Those convictions won't be shaken at all by the result - good, bad or indifferent. You're always trying to grow and evolve and get better. You're trying to always do what you do at a high level and we'll continue to do that.''

The problems against the Bills were similar to the ones that led to many of the 10 losses in 11 games without Tony Romo, who was limited to four starts because he broke his left collarbone twice.

Kellen Moore, the fourth starter Dallas has used at quarterback, couldn't move the offense consistently. A defense that held up well most of the game faltered late in the fourth quarter. A special teams miscue ended any hope of a comeback.

In nine of their 11 losses, the Cowboys either led or were within a touchdown in the fourth quarter. They lost their first seven games without Romo, and even one win would have kept them in the NFC East race, which the Redskins (8-7) wrapped up by beating Philadelphia last weekend.

When Dallas got a big play from the offense, letdowns on special teams or defense canceled it out. And one of the NFL's best defenses in takeaways a year ago was the league's worst this season.

Against the Bills, the defining moment was Tyrod Taylor's third-down scramble to keep a drive alive deep in Buffalo territory, leading to a touchdown and a 10-point lead late in the fourth quarter.

''I think we were doing a good job most of the game and I think it's been something that's been as issue for us all year, finishing games,'' linebacker Sean Lee said. ''We have to find a way, in the future, to put an end to that if we want to be a great defense.''

The Buffalo game was meaningless because both teams were out of the playoff race. Washington's visit Sunday is the same because the Redskins have clinched after running off three straight wins since a loss to the Cowboys that temporarily gave Dallas hope.

Now the hope is gone.

''I just think it goes back to what we try to preach on a daily basis around here, be your best regardless of circumstance and prepare that way and play that way,'' Garrett said.

''It's something that regardless of what our record is and what the record of our opponent is that we always try to emphasize and instill in everybody and that's the approach we'll take.''

Garrett said Moore will make his second career start, and wouldn't say whether receiver Dez Bryant is finished for the season after sitting against the Bills. Bryant missed five games after breaking his right foot in the opener, and Garrett said the foot would undergo further evaluation Tuesday.

''He'll see medical people, we'll see how functional he is, all of that,'' Garrett said. ''We just want to be pure in our evaluation of the status of the player.''

NOTES: DE David Irving broke his wrist against the Bills, ending his season. ... WR Devin Street was still in the concussion protocol after leaving the Buffalo game when he came down hard on his back and head trying to make a leaping catch. ... S Barry Church broke his right arm, but said after the game he won't need surgery.

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Online:

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Follow Schuyler Dixon on Twitter at https://twitter.com/apschuyler

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