Cowboys' offense fails to carry load

ARLINGTON, Texas -- As it just so happened, as Tony Romo was finishing his news conference Thursday, Jerry Jones finished his, so the Dallas Cowboys quarterback and owner and general manager were able to speak privately for 10 minutes in a hallway outside the locker room at AT&T Stadium.

Oh, to know what was said, given the Cowboys' disheartening 33-10 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Did Jones want to know what Romo was seeing -- or not seeing? Was Romo explaining the game plan and how it all went wrong? Were they sharing their favorite Thanksgiving recipes?

The search for answers did not require much effort.

The Cowboys were bad all around Thursday. The defense was porous early and slightly less so later. The special teams weren't horrible but had a comedic error when Barry Church plowed into Dwayne Harris, forcing the Cowboys to open a drive at the 2.

And the offense, the supposed prized-jewel of the Cowboys, was stagnant the entire day. Its only touchdown was mostly about a 38-yard catch by Dez Bryant to the Philadelphia 4. The other six plays on the drive went for 29 yards.

"There's no question about it, Tony didn't have the kind of game we have to have to beat a team like Philadelphia," Jones said. "We do know our team. Our team has to be able to compensate offensively for what we're trying to do defensively. When we don't do that, when we don't respond with scores, that's the way we get beat. We almost got beat that way against the Giants."

Romo threw for 199 yards, marking the fourth time in 13 starts he has been held to fewer than 200 passing yards by the Eagles. He completed 18 of 29 passes and was sacked four times. He was sacked just three times in the two games leading into the Thanksgiving game by the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Giants.

On a normal Thursday, Romo would go through his first practice of the week. This time he was playing for first place in the NFC East.

"I missed a couple of throws that I normally wouldn't miss," Romo said after his talk with Jones while his car idled. "That was disappointing. I'll get that corrected. That won't happen again."

In a 23-point loss, it's more than a handful of plays that makes a difference, but with the defense scuffling badly, the offense needed to play almost perfectly.

On the first drive of the game, the Cowboys wanted a pass interference penalty on Eagles cornerback Bradley Fletcher on third down. On the third drive of the game, Romo missed Jason Witten for an easy first down. On the fourth, Travis Frederick snapped the ball so early that left tackle Tyron Smith never got out of his stance and Romo was sacked for an 8-yard loss.

Late in the second quarter, coach Jason Garrett burned all the Cowboys' timeouts to ensure a possession, and Cole Beasley fumbled after a 9-yard gain on first down. Three plays later, Cody Parkey's third field goal of the second quarter gave Philadelphia a 23-7 lead.

"The game ultimately comes down to execution," Garrett said.

The Cowboys had only a puncher's chance in the second half and could not take advantage of getting the ball at the Philadelphia 13 after an Eagles turnover. After a 9-yard run by DeMarco Murray, the running back lost a yard on second down and Romo was sacked on third down. The Cowboys had to settle for a hollow field goal.

"Situationally, we didn't play very well in the football game," Romo said. "You have to give them credit, but we made a few too many mistakes. When they're scoring like that, you need to be able to be perfect in certain areas, and we just weren't."

Romo saw his streak of consecutive games with a touchdown pass end at 38, fifth-longest in NFL history. Murray was held to a season-low 73 yards. Bryant saw his streak of having a touchdown catch end at four games. Witten had just one catch for 8 yards.

"It was just one of those days," Bryant said. "Any given Sunday. They were just better than us today."

On this day, it was any given Thursday.

The Cowboys can't afford any more days like this.