Are the Cowboys Dead? Dr. Jerry Jones Offers His Prognosis

Mike Fisher

ARLINGTON - Jerry Jones reflected on Sunday's 28-24 home loss to the Vikings deep into the North Texas night, touching both on what "a big win'' it could've been ... and about a possible playoff-goal death knell the defeat might mean.

"We'll have to pay for this one,'' the Dallas Cowboys owner said. "Hopefully, it won't be terminal."

Is Dr. Jerry's patient dead? At 5-4, certainly not; indeed, Dallas actually remains tied for first place in the NFC East. But the Cowboys are now 0-3 against winning teams and the Minnesota-triggered gauntlet continues now with a series of contenders - and teams that on paper seem every bit as capable as Dallas - on the schedule.

"Even though we were at home, it would have been a big win for us to get, and especially to come back and do it with a lot of good performances we had,'' Jones said of a loss in which QB Dak Prescott and the passing game were stellar. "But, we were short, and that means we have a bigger challenge now for these next seven ballgames.''

It appears to be "win-the-division-or-bust for Dallas - "bust'' meaning the likely end of the reign of coach Jason Garrett, "bust'' meaning a possible reevaluation of a roster the Joneses believe is championship-level.

"It's early, I think, for me to say that's the only way or not the only way is to win the division," Jones said. "But, you know, you got to play teams like Minnesota. We got some teams coming up that get out there and compete with Minnesota. Between Chicago and Detroit, they (offer the) same challenges, and we got to go on the road (for) some of those. This was one we'd like to have won for all of those reasons."

Dallas now finds itself in a tie for the division lead with the Philadelphia Eagles. If the Cowboys can stay alive until then, the most important game left on the schedule might be Dallas at Philadelphia on Dec. 22.

I asked Jones about this game being a "standings setback.''

We're sitting here tied with Philadelphia,'' Dr. Jerry acknowledged. "We know Philadelphia is coming. We know the caliber of players we're playing. This (loss) is gonna make it that much harder to get where we wanna go.''