GLENDALE, Ariz. — Entering their Week 3 bout with the Arizona Cardinals, the Dallas Cowboys were riding a two-game win streak to begin the season and that included defeating their first two opponents by a combined final score of 70-10. But after suffering a 28-16 loss in the desert, they'll need to learn some hard lessons in preparation for the New England Patriots.
"The reality is we're 2-1," said head coach Mike McCarthy. "We're gonna fully expect to win every week. Obviously, we're disappointed. We're disappointed we're leaving here without a win, but this is part of the journey.
"It's part of the humbling component of the National Football League. Every experience gives you an opportunity to grow. We need to grow from this experience."
Several things are true of this defeat at the hands of the Cardinals, and each of those items are repairable going forward, but only once they're absorbed. And, much like McCarthy noted, the Cowboys are already feeling the sting of letting this one get away.
Ultimately, it's still just one week though, and quarterback Dak Prescott, who never once got too high in the first two blowouts, isn't getting too low about what happened at State Farm Stadium.
"We're staying in the moment," said Prescott. "That's who we are and that's what this team is. This was a humbling loss, in that sense."
Having lost First-Team All-Pro cornerback Trevon Diggs for the season with a torn ACL this week, along with three starting offensive linemen for Sunday's matchup, the Cowboys have been put through the ringer; but they understood the Cardinals wouldn't provide sympathy.
It's the same Cardinals team that is without Kyler Murray or Budda Baker.
The bottom line is, as McCarthy and Prescott readily make clear, to figure out ways to win even when the cards are stacked against you.
"Obviously, we've had a lot of adversity throughout the week, and it wasn't easy, [but] nobody's making excuses [though]," said Prescott. "We thought we had a great opportunity to come in here — even with the adversity — and get a win, and we didn't. Every week, you've got to reset and refocus and it's a little bit easier after a loss. There's not gonna be any worries about that from myself or the coaching staff.
"The way we attack preparation and coming in tomorrow, ready to work."
Up next comes Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots, with Ezekiel Elliott's homecoming looming as a headline, and this early serving of humility will serve them well if they allow it to; and that includes cleaning up the 13 enforced penalties as well as red zone woes.
There are 14 regular season games remaining, and it's all about going 1-0 in Week 4.
"Y'all put us on top of the world," said Prescott when asked if the loss to the Cardinals was a wake-up call. "We know who we are … There hadn't been but one undefeated team in this league — ever. So to say it sucks, yeah, it's humbling. But to say it's a wake-up call? … We just didn't get it done. It goes back to myself, the offense and the red zone.
"We get better there and we win this game."