IRVING, Texas – The "24-hour rule" has officially ended for a Cowboys team that watched a potential win slip away from an undefeated Broncos group that hadn't lost a regular season game since Week 5 of last year.
Head coach Jason Garrett and the Cowboys know they can't dwell on the deflating feeling they had watching the Broncos kick a game-winning field goal with no time remaining. After all, they have two straight division opponents on the horizon the next two weeks.
"It's the challenge," Garrett said. "The challenge every week is to go to the next game, whether you won a game by a lot of points, lost a game by a lot of points or won or lost a game by a close margin, you have to process the game on Monday and go forward. We have a 24-hour rule for a reason. Somehow, some way you've got to shake it off."
It can be tough to shake a loss like that, even against an opponent as formidable as the Broncos. The Cowboys had the ball with two minutes remaining in a tie game in the fourth quarter.
But with the Redskins this week and the Eagles next week, and while still sitting atop the NFC East at 2-3, letting the disappointment linger could lead to disaster.
"The focus is on Washington, obviously," Garrett said. "We process this ballgame. We did our scouting report for the Redskins already with our players. You get your eyes moving forward. They'll be a great challenge for us. They're a great football team."
Linebacker Sean Lee was as vocal as any defensive player about how disappointed he was in himself and the defense after Sunday's loss, in which the Cowboys allowed 51 points. Turning the page after a loss like that might be difficult for the whole team, but it's particularly challenging the defense. [embedded_ad]
Lee said right now it's about staying as positive as possible. He said the defensive players are mentally tough enough to put the dreadful performance against the league's best team and quarterback behind them.
"After the way we played last night, we're all very, very frustrated," he said. "But we have to find a way, obviously, to get better, because we're still in a position where we can win football games."
Defensive tackle Jason Hatcher said it can be easier to refocus with a division opponent on the slate.
Just how quickly does he think the Cowboys need to turn the page?
"Like right now, ASAP, because we've got another good quarterback coming in here," Hatcher said. "He's another top five quarterback, so we've got to be ready, prepared, especially because it's a division game. We've really got to win this one."