NEW ORLEANS – For Brandon Carr, it sounds like the Cowboys' bye week will be a time for soul searching.
Exasperated, Carr thought silently for several seconds when asked how his defense could bounce back from its latest shellacking – a 625-yard effort at the hands of the Saints.
"It just comes to a point in time where you just have to say 'enough is enough,' man," he said. "The same things I'm saying, the players in this locker room – we all feel the same way. It's going to take a whole team belief that we are the players we believe in our minds. And that's got to translate onto the field."
It's true the Cowboys have been handed quite a load of injury issues for a second straight season, but Carr said he couldn't be concerned with that during the heat of a game. More important to him are the missed tackles and blown coverages that allowed the Saints to be the second team to amass 600 yards on the Dallas defense this year.
"We've got to make plays, man. We leave too many plays on the field," he said. "They're woulda-shoulda-coulda's, and all those things. But we're professional athletes, man. You have to be a step ahead of the game at all times. And I just feel like we're always off."
Fortunately, the Cowboys have two weeks until they kick off against New York, thanks to a late bye week. Carr said the extra week to rest and readjust will be huge in trying to fix the defense. The best way to do that, he added, is to get back to basics.
"The little things, the little details in our defense, the little things that we see on film," he said. "We have a week off to pretty much break down all six of the teams we have left, and three of them, we know who they are – we play them twice a year."
Carr has spoken often about how he doesn't allow his confidence to slip despite the ebbs and flows of a full season. He reiterated that Sunday night, noting that it's important to learn from such a large setback, but it's also important to move on.
"Keep your head up and keep working, because just like in life, the light is going to shine one day. And you just have to be ready for the moment," he said.
Hatcher Is Hopeful
Jason Hatcher said he would have attempted to play against the Saints if the decision were up to him. The Cowboys decided to sit Hatcher prior to kickoff after he failed a strength test with team doctors.
"I just listened to the doctors, but if it was up to me I would have went out there and tried it," he said.
The Cowboys' sack leader is still battling with a stinger he's been dealing with throughout the season. He aggravated the injury in the win against Minnesota, which sapped the strength in his left arm.
He admitted it might have been for the best to sit, as doesn't want to risk a setback that would cause him to miss any more games this season.
As it stands, Hatcher said he's hopeful he'll be in the lineup when the Cowboys resume their schedule Nov. 24 against the Giants.
"I'm pretty close – the strength is close. It's coming back, I'm real optimistic about playing after the bye week against the Giants." [embedded_ad]
Feeling the Heath
When Jeff Heath made his first NFL start just two weeks ago in Detroit, the Cowboys were torched by Calvin Johnson, the rookie safety from Saginaw Valley State, held his own. He made solid tackles and even forced a fumble.
But his third career start was not the charm for the rookie.
Heath was exposed from start to finish, giving up big passing plays and missing open-field tackles.
Of the Saints' first four touchdowns, Heath was indirectly responsible for three of them. Of the Saints' first two touchdowns, Heath couldn't bring down Marques Colston on a 22-yard pass play in the first quarter, and then missed Pierre Thomas in the flat on a third-and-goal swing pass that also resulted in a touchdown.
"I really felt like I let the team down," Heath said. "They have a lot of confidence in me to send me out there in a game like this and I didn't come through. I know I can play better than that."
Heath was playing for rookie safety J.J. Wilcox, who has been out for three games with a sprained knee.
-- Nick Eatman
Back in the conversation
It would be easy to assume Dez Bryant wasn't at 100 percent, give his final statline against the Saints.
Bryant, who has 749 yards and eight touchdowns this season, was targeted just twice and came down with one catch, a 44-yarder, in the loss. That lone catch actually gave him the yards needed to pass Terrell Owens and assume ninth place on the Cowboys' all-time receiving yardage list. It didn't do much to address the scoreboard, however.
Some thought perhaps Bryant's struggles with a nagging back injury hindered him in the game, but Bryant said that wasn't the case.
"No, I wasn't hurting. I do what's called, you know – that's what every last one of us do," he said. "Whatever's called, that's what we do – we go out and try to execute it in the best way possible. We had a gameplan."
Asked why he didn't appear to be prominently featured in the gameplan, Bryant declined to speculate.
"My back wasn't bothering me at all," he said. "I just do what's asked."