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Cowboys' offense needs help from modern medicine

Dez Bryant had an injection of stem cells from his hip into his ankle, Jerry Jones said, that the Cowboys hope will help the receiver's recovery from surgery. AP Photo/Brandon Wade

ARLINGTON, Texas – At this point the Dallas Cowboys’ best hope offensively is modern medicine.

Dez Bryant had an injection of stem cells from his hip into his ankle, according to owner and general manager Jerry Jones, that the Cowboys hope will help the receiver’s recovery from right foot surgery.

The hope is Bryant will be back when the Cowboys play their next game, Oct. 25 against the New York Giants. Jones told reporters after the Cowboys' 30-6 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday that the procedure will make Bryant’s foot “sounder,” once he does come back.

Clearly, the Cowboys are better with Bryant on the field, but they can’t expect him to be a savior. And they still won’t have quarterback Tony Romo back until Nov. 22 at the earliest because of a broken collarbone.

“They’re two of our best players, of course, so when they’re on the field we have a lot of confidence in them,” tight end Jason Witten said. “But we’ve still got to play better and find ways to make plays and capitalize on them. So it takes everybody.”

The Cowboys put up 264 yards on 66 plays in Sunday’s loss. They had a season-low 18 first downs. For the third straight game they converted less than 30 percent of their third-down chances. They ran for 100 yards on 24 carries, but Brandon Weeden had their second-longest gain at 11 yards.

When the Cowboys play again, Weeden might pay the price for the offense’s woes even if the fault does not lay entirely with him. But it's easier to change a quarterback than 10 other players.

“You need to play better than we played,” coach Jason Garrett said. “You need to win matchups. You need to make throws. You need to break tackles. You need to do a lot of things to beat a team like this. At times we did some positive things on offense. Obviously we weren’t consistent enough to sustain drives and score points.”

The Patriots were so hell-bent on not letting the Cowboys score that they called a timeout with 1:26 to play and the outcome settled. Weeden had Terrance Williams open in the end zone, but his pass was off. As a result, the Cowboys were held without a touchdown in a game for the first time since an 18-16 win against the Washington Redskins on Sept. 26, 2011. They had six Dan Bailey field goals that night with Romo playing with a cracked rib and a punctured lung.

“When Dez is on the field teams play us one way, and when he is not then they play another way,” Weeden said. “Guys are smart in this league. Coaches are smart. You’re talking about a head coach that is going to be in the Hall of Fame five years after he is done. He is one of the best to ever do it.

“When you are not at full strength and you don’t have all your weapons and you don’t have guys that you maybe have better rapport with ... it’s hard,” Weeden said. “We have challenges we wouldn’t have otherwise.”

Williams did not have a catch until the fourth quarter and finished with two receptions on six targets for 30 yards. Devin Street had one catch for 13 yards. Darren McFadden had nine catches for 62 yards, but four came on the Cowboys’ final drive.

The Patriots made sure Witten wasn’t going to hurt them. He caught five passes for 33 yards and lost a fumble.

“It’s just we have to play better and we have to execute better in key situations,” Witten said, “and we didn’t do it today.”

Bryant might not be able to change everything, but he will be able to change some things. His presence makes the line better, the running backs better and the other receivers better. He certainly would make Weeden – or Matt Cassel – better.

“We’ll take Dez’s situation day by day,” Garrett said. “He’s certainly improving. You see him moving around more and more each day. It seems like he’s getting back to being himself. We’re not going to make any predictions on when he’ll be back.”