CHICAGO -- This was a performance that could turn even the biggest optimist into a non-believer.
To see the depth of the Cowboys' disappointment, look no further than Jerry Jones.
The Cowboys' owner and general manager has long described himself as someone who sees the glass half full. In the wake of a 31-24 loss to the Chicago Bears, his team's third-straight loss and seventh of the season, he sounded like a man who wondered if he had a glass at all.
"It's losing, losing, losing," Jones said Thursday night. "I'm not trying to be funny here, but the point is that we've got to win a football game. I don't care what the standings are, what the numbers are."
Thanks to a toothless NFC East, Jones' Cowboys will remain atop the division standings this weekend, despite a sub-.500 record. Technically speaking, all of their lofty goals are somehow still attainable. But that was true following last week's loss to Buffalo, as well.
And though Jones promoted that fairy tale in the days leading up to this road trip, it's getting harder and harder to imagine that happy ending.
"So much for words. Seriously -- so much for words," Jones said.
To be clear, Jones did not speculate about the future of his head coach, Jason Garrett. He also declined to go into detail about the possibility of making a change at kicker after Brett Maher missed a 42-yard field goal.
But still, contrast the tone following the game with the one before it. In the days following the 26-15 loss to the Bills on Thanksgiving, Jones played into the idea that December could mark the beginning of a resurgence.
In an interview on the Soldier Field sidelines prior to kickoff, he echoed that optimism.
"How lucky could you be sitting here with a team as healthy as we are, that's got the potential that we've got, and be sitting right here to win a game and go on and take it all the way to the house? That's how I feel," he said.
Three hours later, Jones lamented the long list of things he saw that lead to losses. The Cowboys had untimely penalties. Their defense couldn't get off the field on third down, and their offense couldn't stay on the field in the same situation. Their was the missed field goal, which hurt their chances to make a late comeback.
"It's hard to do it when you miss field goals that, the last two games, have shown up," he said.
It was a poor enough performance for Jones to note, with irony in his voice, that it didn't even matter that the Cowboys won the turnover battle and still trailed by as many as 17 points.
"Everybody in this huddle right here, we know that that score didn't indicate how bad they beat us tonight," he told reporters. "That score was a lot closer. They beat us real good tonight."
Perhaps the most confounding thing of all is that, in theory, nothing has changed. With three games to play, Jones could still see his team reverse course, claim the division crown and make some noise in the playoffs.
But from here on out, it sounds like seeing is believing.
"We did all of the things that you can do that cause you to lose football games in the game. So that's where it is," Jones said. "Until we can win a football game, I don't care what kind of contention we're in."