PHILADELPHIA -- Even as the losses piled up, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones believed all along his team could embark on a fairy-tale ride to Super Bowl LIV.
After Dallas' 17-9 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, the Cowboys' chances for making the playoffs are almost as remote as their making it to the championship game for the first time since the 1995 season.
"When you get in this spot, you give yourself a chance to be real disappointed. We are," Jones said. "The fact that we didn't get any [touchdowns], the fact the game turned out the way it did -- they played well. Not a lot to say about anything else other than it's very disappointing. We all expected to leave here as NFC East champs. We're not. We'll just go to Washington."
At 7-8, the Cowboys need to win their Week 17 finale against the 3-12 Washington Redskins, and the 8-7 Eagles, who have won three games in a row, have to lose to the 4-11 New York Giants for Dallas to make it to the postseason.
Had the Cowboys won, they would have clinched a playoff spot in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2006-07 and become the first team to repeat as NFC East champions since the Eagles in 2003-04.
Instead, they have had one of the more disappointing seasons in franchise history -- one that began with a promising 3-0 start.
"Frustrating," quarterback Dak Prescott said. "Sat here after every game pretty much, win or loss, and said the good part about it is we control our own destiny. That's gone. That's out of our hands. And that's unfortunate. It's very disappointing because we had the chance, right? We had the chance to control our destiny and be where we wanted to be. But now that it's out of our hands, we've got to control what we can control, and that's getting a win next week."
Prescott said his sprained right shoulder, which did not allow him to take a meaningful snap in practice leading into the game, did not affect him. He completed 56.8% of his passes (25-of-44 for 265 yards), which was his second-lowest percentage of the season.
"I missed some throws. I can't say I had pain or felt it in my shoulder," Prescott said. "It could be maybe a lack of reps this week, who knows? But yeah, it wasn't my shoulder. It wasn't anything I was feeling. I felt good."
A week after running for a season-high 263 yards, the Cowboys ran for just 54 yards against the Eagles.
Ezekiel Elliott was limited to 47 yards on 13 carries, the first time he had not rushed for at least 96 yards against the Eagles in his career. On a key moment in the third quarter, Elliott was out for two plays after an 8-yard run for a breather and his replacement, rookie Tony Pollard, fumbled on a third-and-1 run from the Philadelphia 25, ending a scoring threat.
In the fourth quarter, the Cowboys opted to pass on another third-and-1, and it was incomplete.
"Just pissed," Elliott, who received $50 million guaranteed as part of a $90 million deal in September, said of the outcome of the game. "Pissed we didn't go out there and get it done."
Elliott's absences in key moments wasn't the only strange substitution pattern. At key moments on the Cowboys' final two drives, leading receiver Amari Cooper was on the sideline. On the Cowboys' final play, a fourth-and-8 from the Eagles 23 when Prescott tried a throw to Michael Gallup in the end zone, Cooper and Randall Cobb, who had five catches for 73 yards, were not on the field.
"I don't have an answer for you," Prescott said when asked about why Cooper was out.
Cooper has been troubled by heel, quadriceps, ankle and knee injuries for parts of the season but was not on the injury report during the week of practice, and no announcements were made during the game about his health.
"I wasn't winded, no," said Cooper, who had 24 yards on four catches. "Some of the routes we have, a deep post or a go ball, and we usually rotate to keep our legs fresh and things like that."
As disappointed and frustrated as the Cowboys were in the locker room after the game, the sting grew deeper, as the team's chartered flight back to Dallas was delayed because of mechanical issues. The Cowboys boarded their plane close to 11 p.m. ET, roughly 90 minutes after their scheduled departure.
"We're too talented of a team and individuals to not make the plays, starting with myself," Prescott said. "It's disappointing. It's frustrating, but we all take responsibility. It begins with me, and we're too talented. We just didn't execute the way that we're capable of doing, and they did."