Cowboys proving they're just average

ARLINGTON, Texas -- When it was over, the scoreboard showed the Dallas Cowboys beat the sorry Seattle Seahawks by 10 points.

Big whoop-de-do.

A good team would've trounced Seattle by three touchdowns. A great team would've won by even more.

Your Cowboys?

They settled for a 23-13 victory at Cowboys Stadium.

Understand, the result was far better than losing, and for a team that had played 11 consecutive games decided by four points or fewer until a couple of weeks ago, it certainly represents progress.

But this game should've been a blowout.

It should've been a performance worthy of the players -- Drew Pearson, Larry Allen and Charles Haley -- enshrined in the Ring of Honor on Sunday afternoon.

It wasn't. Truth be told, it wasn't even close.

The Cowboys turned in the same old inconsistent performance we've seen virtually every week from this team, constantly reinforcing the notion this is an average team -- no different than 15 other NFL clubs.

This is probably a good time to remind ourselves the Cowboys are a mediocre team capable of beating Green Bay one week and losing to Indianapolis the next.

They're 4-4 this season, 9-7 in Jason Garrett's first 16 games as head coach, and 10-14 since the start of last season. How about this? The Cowboys are 116-116 with one playoff win since 1997.

Maybe, just maybe, it's time for all of us to change the way we judge this club. I've always believed you judge contenders more on the quality of their performance instead of the final score.

You judge them on whether they're playing at a championship level because when they do, the wins and losses take care of themselves. We should judge the Cowboys on whether they're playing at a playoff team level.

Thus far, the answer is no.

"We had to win this one. There's no doubt," Cowboys linebacker Bradie James said. "It's time for us to build on it and not talk about what we can do or where we need to be. We know what we need to do. We just need to go out there and get it done."

We'll see.

At one point in the first half, the Cowboys had outgained Seattle 255-54 with scoring drives of 96 and 86 yards. The score? Dallas led, 6-3.

Sometimes, all you can do is shake your head.

"If you become frustrated, I've been a part of this in the past, you feel like you have to do too much," said Tony Romo. "You have good players. You just have to keep attacking and doing what you're told to do."

DeMarco Murray rushed for 139 yards, and Romo passed for 279 yards and had a 112.2 passer rating, but the same old red-zone issues that have plagued the offense much of the season have yet to be fixed.

Dallas kicked two field goals in three red zone possessions, and Dez Bryant lost a fumble at the Seattle 1.

If they were playing almost any team other than woeful Seattle and its abject offense, the outcome would've been considerably more tenuous in the fourth quarter.

Still, Seattle, one of the NFL's worst offensive teams, surpassed its season average in rushing yards (162), passing yards (221) and total yards (383). Marshawn Lynch rushed for 135 yards, running the same counter and stretch plays Philadelphia used successfully with LeSean McCoy.

Rob Ryan is smart enough to know the Cowboys are going to see the same thing every week until they shut it down.

The Cowboys did intercept three passes and hold Tarvaris Jackson to a 40.4 passer rating, but Dallas didn't create a cushion until Romo led the offense to consecutive scores set up by interceptions by Jason Hatcher and Terence Newman.

The Cowboys own one victory over a good team, San Francisco. They have three wins over dogs: Washington, St. Louis and Seattle.

Dallas plays its next four games against Buffalo, Washington, Miami and Arizona. Only Buffalo is above .500, and the Cowboys will undoubtedly be favored in all four.

Who cares about spotless, sparkling performances? Or beating upper-echelon teams? The standard has changed.

The Cowboys just need to find a way to win three of the next four. Do that, and everything they want to achieve this season will be entirely up to them.

It's all a mediocre team could ever want.

Jean-Jacques Taylor is a columnist for ESPNDallas.com.