What 3-1 would mean for the Cowboys

IRVING, Texas -- Getting to 3-1 on a young NFL season is no means to celebrate, but it’s been a hard record for the Dallas Cowboys to achieve in recent years.

The last time the Cowboys started off 3-1 came in 2008.

Three times in the past four seasons they had opportunities to get to 3-1, but lost to the Denver Broncos in 2009, the Detroit Lions in 2011 and the Chicago Bears in 2012.

The Lions’ loss came after the Cowboys blew a 27-3 lead. Last season’s loss to the Bears was highlighted by five Tony Romo interceptions.

“Since I’ve been here we’ve had shots to go 3-1 and we’ve had some tough losses,” said linebacker Sean Lee, who joined the Cowboys in 2010. “We have to find a way to build that consistency and we understand that it’s building throughout the year and stacking games together is what the great teams do. That’s what we have to do.”

The Cowboys’ next chance to get to 3-1 comes Sunday against the San Diego Chargers. With the rest of the NFC East off to a poor start (the Philadelphia Eagles are the only other division team with a win), a win Sunday would do wonders for the Cowboys’ confidence.

“You’re only worried about yourself but this is when you get separation,” tight end Jason Witten said. “We’ve found ourselves the past two years playing for divisions in Week 17 but you always look back and say, ‘If we had that one,’ or ‘If we had that game early on in the season.’ That’s the way it always is. Every team has that. We’re just trying to create an atmosphere and a mindset of, ‘Let’s go do that.’ I think we’re all tired of talking and we know the results have got to happen. It’s not anything we can just say. We’ve got to see the results.”

But even 3-1 doesn’t guarantee long-term success.

The Cowboys finished 9-7 in 2008 and missed the playoffs.