(Eds: Updates with quotes, details. With AP Photos.)|
By STEPHEN HAWKINS
AP Sports Writer
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - Tony Romo will spend much of his extended weekend trying to figure out how the Dallas Cowboys can get off to better starts.
Jason Witten knows they have to do that and fast - if it's not already too late.
Dallas (5-6) has fallen behind by 10 points or more before halftime in each of its last four home games. The Cowboys lost three of those games, including a Thanksgiving Day game when rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III led Washington to a 28-3 halftime lead.
``We know where we're at, no question to that,'' Witten said. ``We have a long way to go, and a short time to do it. ... It's that time, we have to start doing it, and playing better early in games so that you can stay with the game plan. You can't play football and try to win in those situations.''
After building some much-needed momentum with consecutive victories, while the NFC East-leading New York Giants (6-4) lost two in a row, the Cowboys now are tied for second place with the Redskins.
And Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is already dreading the regular season finale Dec. 30 at Washington in another game against Griffin.
``I'm not trying to be negative, but we've got to play these guys again,'' the ever-optimistic Jones said minutes after Thursday's 38-31 loss. ``And with how impressed I am with how they played, we've got our hands full for that last game.''
In a homecoming of sorts for the Heisman Trophy winner from Baylor, the Redskins scored 28 points in the second quarter. It was their first four-touchdown quarter in 13 years.
The Cowboys tried to make a comeback in the second half, when Romo threw three touchdowns. There were two to Dez Bryant, including a career-long 85-yarder and an 11-yarder with 8:18 left that got the Cowboys within 35-28.
Washington then went 50 yards in 11 plays, taking more than 5 minutes off the clock, for a game-sealing field goal.
Including the Cowboys' 23-20 overtime win at home against two-win Cleveland, when they trailed 13-0 at halftime, Romo threw 112 passes in a five-day span.
``It's just not going to be a fun few days. It's just going to eat at you and consume all of your thoughts. You think about what you can do to help this football team get better,'' Romo said. ``I'm exhausting my brain thinking about things to do and things to help us get off to better starts and move the ball better.''
With the Cowboys falling behind so often at home, Romo has attempted at least 50 passes in each of his last three home games, after only three 50-pass games his first 83 starts overall since taking over in the middle of the 2006 season.
Romo attempted 62 passes Thursday against the Redskins. That matched his career record set less than a month earlier in a 29-24 home loss to the Giants, who led 23-0 early in the second quarter.
``Can't spot good teams, we've talked about that all along. That's what's disappointing, we continue to do it and it's just too hard to overcome,'' Witten said. ``You get away from your plan. All the work you put in the week to study, and the formations how you're going to attack them, it goes out the window. ... We've got to start better in these games and give ourselves a chance.''
The Cowboys return to practice Monday to start preparations for their third consecutive home game, Dec. 2 against Philadelphia. They won 38-23 at Philly on Nov. 11.
Dallas was down 10-0 in less than 5 minutes at Seattle in the second week of the season. Since then, all of the early double-digit deficits have come at home.
The Chicago Bears took a 10-0 lead on their way to a 34-18 Monday night victory Oct. 1. Dallas actually rebounded from that 23-point deficit Oct. 28 against the Giants to take a lead into the fourth quarter before New York kicked two field goals.
Cleveland surprisingly put Dallas in a quick hole, and the Redskins responded with their 28-point outburst in the second quarter after the Cowboys kicked a field goal on their opening drive.
``Everything we want is still in front of us,'' Witten said. ``But at some point, it has to turn for us. Yeah, we fight. Yeah, we've got will. But let's fix it. You've got to show it. That's the only thing you can do about it.''