Cowboys put on a brave face Monday

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
IRVING, Texas -- To their credit, several Cowboys defenders emerged from a darkened film room Monday to face the music a day after being dominated by the Redskins' offense in a 26-24 loss to the Redskins. The offense's only representatives were wide receiver Patrick Crayton and right guard Leonard Davis.

A pack of reporters surrounded defensive end Greg Ellis' locker before racing over to visit with the club's defender of the star, Tank Johnson (this position was formerly held by George Teague). Later, linebacker Bradie James found the one positive from Sunday's loss.

"This alleviated us from going 16-0," he joked.

That's right, folks. We've found a silver lining for the Cowboys. They won't have to endure the pressure that comes with winning games week after week. Why not mix in a miserable effort every now and then?

My first stop was defensive end Marcus Spears' locker. He seemed to have a healthy sense of perspective following Sunday's loss.

"The thing is, we know we can play," he said. "This is not something that's going to devastate us. It doesn't feel good at all, though. If they had've scored all their points on three big plays, you could kind of deal with it."

More than anything, the players sounded embarrassed about getting gashed in the running game. And the too-many-players-on-the-field penalty in the fourth quarter also stung.

"We have so many personnel changes that guys just got mixed up," Spears said. "We have to nullify that immediately."

Defensive end Jason Hatcher said the Redskins did a great job of starting running plays to the right, and then finding seams on the left side. I didn't point out the fact that they've been doing that for years. Hatcher, a very underrated player on the team, talked about how "slithery" Portis was, and how he does a great job of staying low and running through tackles.

Johnson made some valid points, but his beef with Rock Cartwright's alleged "Dancing on the Star" is laughable. Tank, how 'bout you make at least one tackle in the game before calling an opposing player "classless" for having the audacity to stand on the star and gaze through the roof. Could this perceived slight have something to do with the star's proximity to the line of scrimmage on the Redskins' final possession? Wait, don't answer that.

James was the most animated player in the locker room. He talked about how much better it is to lose a game in September rather than one in January, a month that hasn't been particularly kind to the Cowboys. When a reporter fed him a line about taking the season in quarters, he talked about how the Cowboys could end up with a 12-4 record.

"I'll take that any day," he said.

The best news for Cowboys fans right now? The Redskins only show up once more on the schedule.