FRISCO, Texas -- In his 15th season, Jason Witten has seen just about everything the NFL has to offer.
Twice he has been on the best team in the NFC. Once he has played on a team that finished with the second-worst record of the Jerry Jones era. Three times he has been on teams that lost de facto NFC East championship games in Week 17.
Following Sunday's 37-9 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Dallas Cowboys are 5-5 and out of the playoff picture at the moment. History tells Witten there is a lot of football to be played. History also tells him the Cowboys can't afford many more performances like those of the last two weeks, losses to the Eagles and Atlanta Falcons.
He knows the Cowboys can't wallow in their despair, with the Los Angeles Chargers visiting AT&T Stadium on Thursday.
"You can't feel sorry for yourself," Witten said. "It's all in front of us. We've got to find a way to get one win. That's the mentality."
One win. That's what the Cowboys' season has come down to. One win.
After they rallied to a 5-3 record at the midway point, they were looking like a true contender. With three straight wins against the San Francisco 49ers, Washington Redskins and Kansas City Chiefs, things were looking like 2016 all over again.
But then Ezekiel Elliott's temporary administrative stay was lifted and his suspension started. He won't be back until Dec. 24 against the Seattle Seahawks. Will the Cowboys still have a chance for the postseason by the time he can play again?
All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith has missed the last two games with a groin strain. There is no guarantee he will play against the Chargers. All-Pro linebacker Sean Lee has missed the last seven quarters with a hamstring strain and is looking at missing at least the next eight quarters, too. Dan Bailey, the most accurate kicker in NFL history, is close to returning after missing four games with a groin strain, but for his strength to be felt, the games actually have to be close.
Owner and general manager Jerry Jones is maintaining his confidence. "I like our team," he said Sunday night. "Certainly would like to not have some of these injuries, but everybody's dealing with them. Now the problem is between injuries and potentially not having players for other reasons, you've got to hang in there and get a win when maybe the personnel didn't look like you can do it. And you've got to stay eligible to get in the playoffs."
The Cowboys are in the middle of a three-games-in-12-days span. Hours after they lost to the Eagles, they were at The Star getting ready for the Chargers. At least the Cowboys did not play a night road game, like in 2014, when they got back from New Jersey at roughly 4:30 a.m. CT and had to play the Eagles four days later.
They lost that game 33-10, which at the time was their worst loss at AT&T Stadium. Now the 37-9 loss to the Eagles on Sunday is the worst.
"We can't whine about it," defensive end Tyrone Crawford said. "We can't complain about it. We just got to do our jobs. It is what it is. We're put in this situation and we've got to make the best of it."
As dark as things seem for the Cowboys at the moment -- they sit 10th in the NFC and would lose head-to-head tiebreakers against the Falcons, Green Bay Packers and Los Angeles Rams -- things could look entirely different by Dec. 11.
Their next three games -- against the Chargers (4-6), Washington Redskins (4-6) and New York Giants (2-8) -- are winnable. Even the Dec. 17 trip to play the Oakland Raiders (4-6) does not look as daunting as it did when the season started.
After the Eagles loss, Jason Garrett offered perspective of what the season can still be for his players. "Really, the idea is just to let them know that it's all in front of us and it's just a matter of what we want to do with it," Garrett said. "We're 5-5 right now and can be anywhere from 11-5 to 5-11 and everywhere in between. So just a decision we have to make as to what we want to do, and really the focus is on trying to become 6-5. And the way you do that is focus on today and do what you need to do in the preparation in a short week."