ARLINGTON, Texas -- It's an old cliché, but it rings true on a night like tonight: you are what your record says you are.
After an embarrassing 26-15 loss to the Buffalo Bills, that certainly describes the 6-6 Dallas Cowboys -- a talented but middling team that does not yet possess a signature win, with just one month left in the season.
In the bowels of AT&T Stadium on Thursday night, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones was pressed about that very fact. Through 12 games, this is who the Cowboys are. What gives him optimism that can change over the final four games of the season?
"Do you believe in redemption? Do you believe in redemption?" he asked. "I am a redemption man, too. So I think that you can change, to some degree, who you are."
That's a tough line of logic to follow after this latest loss. The Cowboys showed all their familiar hallmarks, from special teams miscues to turnovers to trouble in run defense. They racked up 426 yards of offense with just 15 points to show for it, and their defense broke in crucial moments.
Jones isn't blind to that
"Yes, we're going to have to play better. I know all of this is a broken record because it's a fact," he said. "You're going to have to get some turnovers. You're going to have to play better. You're going to have to take some of these All-Pros and have them play better."
All of that fits the bill for these Cowboys. Thursday was their fourth game in a row without a takeaway. It was Ezekiel Elliott's fourth-straight week without 100 rushing yards. It was an uncharacteristically sloppy night from Dak Prescott, as he threw an interception and fumbled twice.
Despite all of that, Jones took heart that things aren't as bleak as they seem. A big part of that, he said, is that -- despite all their shortcomings -- the Cowboys can be thankful for their good health and their talent level.
"We're not sitting out here without our starting quarterback," he said. "We're not sitting out here without our starting running backs. We've got our line in shape. We've got receivers that have gotten better. And I think that we've got really a chance to play better on defense."
Absolutely none of this is going to make Cowboys fans feel better. This is a team that entered the season with Super Bowl aspirations. And despite the fact that they're currently first in the NFC East, it seems hard to believe this is a team capable of winning four-straight -- let alone whatever matchups would await in the playoffs.
Jones seemed to understand the assertion that it sounds like a bit of a fairytale. But with one month left in the season, he intends to see just how happy this ending will be.
"It's been a fairytale life to me, so I have always dreamed out there on the edge," he said. "I really have. I've been confused many times between my dreams and reality. But have surprised my own ass by finding out there was some real reality in what a lot of people thought I was dreaming about."