IRVING, Texas – From a complete team victory in the opener to a thorough beat down in Seattle, a gamut of emotions swept through the Cowboys organization in two weeks to start the season.
The joviality after beating the Giants now sits in the distant past after a 27-7 loss to Seattle. Owner Jerry Jones said the Seahawks "imposed their will" on the Cowboys, who are trying to put the first two games behind and find something to build off entering the home opener this weekend against the Buccaneers.
"We just learn from this," Jones said. "As we all know, we're just starting, so we'll get in here and we've got to get home this weekend. We're playing a tough Tampa team."
Most Cowboys players admitted they were whipped in every facet, but few admitted to playing less physically than they had a week prior. They said their passion still existed even as the deficit increased from six points to 13 and from 13 to 20.
Most of the Cowboys, including tight end Jason Witten, pointed to execution as the cause of Sunday's meltdown. He said there were no issues with dedication or preparation, nor should there be moving forward.
"Guys are playing hard and doing all that stuff," Witten said. "We know what we're doing. We just didn't execute it well enough, ultimately.
"It's not about were you too high, were you too low, you got your tail kicked. I think each person has to look at themselves and understand how they can handle it. The easy thing would be to say you were [down], 10-0, before you even got out the gate. It's hard to overcome that, the stats show it. But still, we didn't execute well enough."
The losing effort marked a complete turnaround from where the Cowboys were a week ago, when the offense stayed on the field long enough to secure a victory. On Sunday, the Cowboys offense finished with just three full possessions in the second half.
Dallas held the ball longer than Seattle in the first half, yet the Seahawks possessed the ball for nine more minutes than the Cowboys by the end of the game. The lack of offensive production forced the Cowboys' defense to stay on the field and wear down.
"We just got tired on defense," said linebacker Bruce Carter. "With that, our technique wasn't good. We didn't really fire off the ball like we were supposed to. We didn't play Dallas Cowboys football."
"We ran 16 plays on offense in the second half," said coach Jason Garrett. "That's not a lot of ball plays. One of the things that I think we had to battle through early on in that ballgame was some frustration with the different situations that were happening. If you look at the first quarter of the game, we ran 21 plays on offense, which is a lot of ball plays for a quarter."
When the defense wore down, the injuries mounted and the questionable hits piled on, no more so than the shot wide receiver Golden Tate delivered on linebacker Sean Lee. Rather than complain about the hit and remain on the sideline, Lee returned to a game that seemed out of reach, further demonstrating that drive and resolve weren't the issues.
"We're going to look at this game, evaluate it, find a way to get better from it and move on from this," Lee said. "We have to find a way to assess our weaknesses and see what we did wrong. We were taking steps forward; this is obviously a step back. But finding a way to learn from it and move on is the only way we're going to be that consistent defense that we're looking for."
After a successful east coast trip and a disastrous west coast breakdown, the Cowboys have an opportunity in their home opener this weekend to demonstrate which performance was more indicative of what to expect the rest of the year.
"Sunday can't get here fast enough," Witten said. "You've got to be able to learn. This is all part of that process. Coach Garrett said it today, today's an important day of never really getting too high after a big win or too low after a loss. You've got to be critical of yourself, evaluate it – win or loss – and get better."