FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – You don't often get NFL coaches, players or executives to consider the big picture. Not in a league where the week-to-week results are so important.
In the wake of a bitter loss on a miserable, rainy day, though? Jerry Jones was a bit more willing to view this season as a whole.
The Cowboys' owner and general manager was asked, in the wake of a 13-9 loss to the defending champion New England Patriots, whether this was a more disappointing result than the Oct. 13 loss to the New York Jets.
Jones' answer confirmed a narrative that has followed the Cowboys for the past six weeks, as they continue to seek their first victory over a team with a winning record.
"You should be able to come in here and lose a game and not have it be a statement game about one way or the other, about your team," Jones said. "We've managed to get ourselves in a position to where playing this game was a statement game about us."
Jones made it perfectly clear: there's no shame in losing at Gillette Stadium. It's a building where the Patriots are now 120-21 since it opened in 2002, and it's a building that sports six Super Bowl banners – all of which have been won in the last 20 years.
At the same time, this is hardly the time for moral victories – not for a Cowboys team that is now 6-5, with an ugly 0-4 record in games decided by less than a touchdown. To that end, it's no so much the loss to the mighty Patriots, but all the ones that came before it that helped put the Cowboys in this position.
"The Jets set it up. Losing those games against New Orleans or Minnesota, they set this up. You shouldn't ever come into a situation like this and have as narrow a window," Jones said. "So we set this up for this kind of conversation before we ever got here."
Jones used some variation of "frustrated" or "disappointed" on 13 different occasions, speaking to reporters in a barren storage area off the Cowboys' dejected locker room. Having watched his team turn the ball over and commit numerous mental errors, Jones couldn't help but liken it to various other defeats this season, and how they share a common thread.
"I don't think there's a game where a coaching staff couldn't do better in," Jones said. "I just don't like it that we've got so many as I'm standing here tonight."
The Cowboys will look for positives where they can get them. They don't have to wait long for redemption, with the Buffalo Bills coming to AT&T Stadium on Thursday for the annual Thanksgiving Day game.
There's also the help they're getting from Philadelphia, as the Eagles dropped a second-straight game on Sunday to ensure the Cowboys retain a hold on the NFC East lead.
Until then, there's plenty of time to ruminate on what could have been – both on Sunday and throughout this season. Jones himself said that, given the makeup of this Cowboys' roster, there's no reason for him to feel so frustrated after a game.
It's been a theme for the season, against all levels of competition. And while this might have been the toughest test of the year, it served as a reminder of how it got to this point.
"We had opportunity here to gel, we had opportunity here to do some things against a really outstanding organization, outstanding team in a rough situation and we just didn't get there," Jones said. "That's disappointing and I'm reflecting it."