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Cowboys News & Notes: Dez Bryant Struggles As Cowboys Lose Seventh Straight

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Latest Cowboys headlines: Cowboys lose again; Dez misses out on opportunities; Claiborne hurts hamstring.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It still feels like I am sitting in front of the TV waiting for the offense to score a touchdown. I know it's coming, just give it a little longer. This was a game the Cowboys desperately needed to win, but they had different plans.

Cowboys Fall Again, Ineptly Drop Game To Buccaneers 10-6 - Tom Ryle, BTB
If you thought the Cowboys were going to sneak out a victory - it looks like they pulled one over on you. Again. Tom Ryle gives us a game recap with an ending that will have you on the edge of your seat...and then on the edge of a building.

Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers win ugly over Dallas Cowboys - Andrew Asteford, ESPN
The Cowboys didn't win the game, but they won the turnover differential battle which counts for something, right? Anyone? Bueller?

What were they thinking?

A choice to throw to tight end Brandon Myers on third down late in the second quarter proved costly. The pass from Winston was catchable, but it slid through Myers' hands and Heath intercepted it at Dallas' 5-yard line. If not for that turnover, the Bucs would have been in position to attempt a short field goal. Before then, Winston had thrown 135 consecutive passes without an interception, dating back to Week 4 against the Carolina Panthers.

Staff Writers Give Quick Analysis Of Cowboys-Bucs - Staff, The Mothership
One of the biggest concerns going into this game was how the Cowboys could defend the Bucs running game without the presence of Sean Lee. Surprisingly, that wasn't an issue as the Cowboys linebackers did a great job against the run.

Rob Phillips: On paper, Sunday seemed like the most winnable game in this seven-game stretch without Tony Romo. Four of the first six opposing quarterbacks have won Super Bowls, and Jameis Winston, as talented as he is, has the most inexperience. I thought Tampa Bay’s seventh-ranked running game against the Cowboys’ depleted linebackers would be the difference in a tight game, and while Sean Lee’s absence was felt, Anthony Hitchens and Rolando McClain had major roles in limiting the Bucs to 3.5 yards a carry.

5 thoughts on Cowboys' loss: It appears Tony Romo's return will be too late - Jon Machota, SportsDay
Being without Tony Romo is a problem and not having other players make plays is another problem. One of those problems will go away shortly, but the other will still remain. Jon Machota gives us his five thoughts and why the return of Romo might not he enough of a reprieve for this team.

Regardless of how good Tony Romo can be when he returns next week, the Cowboys will have to be nearly perfect if they really believe their playoff hopes weren't ended in Tampa. Can Romo lead Dallas on a seven-game winning streak? Maybe. Is it likely? Not even close. The Cowboys had their chances against rookie QB Jameis Winston, who didn't look very good most of the day. But they never got anything going offensively and the defense eventually gave up the game-winning score in the final minute. Remember when disappointing 8-8 seasons were normal, the Cowboys would be thrilled to get back to that this year.

Fox's John Lynch goes after Dez Bryant for lack of effort - Barry Horn, SportsDay
The strange thing about this play is that Dez makes a living out of climbing the ladder and taking the ball from the defender. So it is baffling that he decided not to participate in this one.

"Dez Bryant has to make a better effort on that football," Lynch said. "He allowed McDougald to go and steal that ball from him."

Here are some tweets from the game.

It will probably behoove Dez to step away from the Twitterverse after this one. But at least there hasn't been any mention of an outburst in the locker room after the the game That's all that really matters, right?

So, what did he have to say?

Bryant: 'I'm not trying to make excuses' - ESPN Video
Cowboys WR Dez Bryant gives his take on a pass he dropped on a third down in the fourth quarter and the Matt Cassell interception that ended the game, in which Bryant was expecting a pass interference call.

Dez Bryant made little effort on final play, struggled against undrafted ex-Cowboy - Rainer Sabin, SportsDay
Dez had a disappointing game, but he wasn't alone as a Jeff Heath penalty handed the team a severe blow. And just when he was starting to sucker me into liking him.

Hero of the game:

Nobody. Jeff Heath had two interceptions that helped Dallas stave off the Buccaneers during the course of the game. But in the critical final minutes, he committed a defensive holding penalty that negated a fumble recovery by the Cowboys and gave Tampa Bay new life, allowing the Buccaneers to produce the only touchdown of the game with 54 seconds left in regulation.

Cowboys a mess; season appears to be lost cause; Dez disappointing - Bob Sturm, SportsDay
Bob Sturm answers a few questions about this putrid football game.

Who deserves the blame for losing seven straight? Can you use the Tony-Romo-is-hurt excuse?

That's a great question. Sometimes in sports, things get going in one direction and you can just never pull out of the nosedive. It feels like something we call momentum in the wrong direction.  It feels like luck. It's just not our year. It's difficult tot put the finger on it. The swagger the team walked the earth with, as late as in mid-September, is completely gone. Whether you want to blame one person or a group of people, this team can't play it's way out of a paper bag right now. It's a real mess. I know the effort is there from a lot of people. It's a painful sport that requires a lot of effort and determination. It's days like today: A noon start against a bad team that you find out what you're made of. They can't get out of their own way. It appears to be one of those disappointing years. You can see it on their faces, adversity is on the next corner.

Bryant’s Drop, Lack of Running Game Among Thoughts - Bryan Broaddus, The Mothership
Bryan Broaddus gives us his 12 thoughts including the mystery that surrounds the disappearance of Cole Beasley. After a huge game last week, he once again got lost in purgatory.

I believed that Cole Beasley was going to be a big part of the game plan, but once again, Cassel couldn't find him. Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan even lined Beasley up in the backfield to create some separation, but Cassel went the other direction. The Buccaneers’ Adam Humphries is a similar player to Beasley and Jameis Winston did a nice job of getting him the ball in some clutch spots.

Buccaneers 10, Cowboys 6: My Top 10 Whitty Comments - Richie Whitt, NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
It was a little surprising to see two of this year's pleasant surprises turn in poor performances. If we don't even have that, what do we got?

Two Cowboys having good seasons had grotesque games. Darren McFadden was simply McSluggish. He didn’t burst through holes or finish runs as he has all season, resulting in only 32 yards on 17 carries. And Morris Claiborne took a significant step back in what had been a decent season. After getting torched by receiver Mike Evans and committing two interference penalties, he went to the bench with a pulled hamstring … and perhaps a bruised ego. Claiborne did snare a referee’s flag out of mid-air, so at least he caught something this season.

And if you didn't seem Mo making any plays in the second half, we'll, here's why...

Cowboys CB Morris Claiborne will undergo MRI on Monday on injured right hamstring - Brandon George, SportsDay
It seems like it was just a matter of time before something like this happened. Mo hurt his hamstring on the play where the referee threw the flag at him and he caught it, but it is inconclusive that the flag is what caused the injury and the ref has yet to formally apologize.

Claiborne said he hurt his hamstring with 10:26 left in the second quarter when he was called for defensive pass interference against Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans. The penalty down the left sideline cost the Cowboys 45 yards .

"That's when it started kind of pulling on me. After that, it just got worse and worse as it went on," Claiborne said. "I couldn't even run at one point."

Claiborne finished the second quarter but went into the locker room early and couldn't finish the game. He said he would have an MRI on his right hamstring on Monday to find out how much time he'll miss.

After their seventh straight loss, are the Cowboys done? Steven Mullenax, The Landry Hat
Close your ears for this one, but had the Cowboys pulled off the victory against the Bucs, they would be right in the thick of things with the rest of the lousy teams in the division. But if there is anything positive to take from this loss it would be that they didn't lose any ground. The Cowboys would be fine if they could just find somewhere to hide while the rest of the division goes out there and loses.

In most divisions, the Cowboys would already be planning for next year’s NFL Draft. But with the 5-5 New York Giants, 4-5 Washington Redskins, and the 4-5 Philadelphia Eagles all struggling, Dallas still technically has a chance. But do you believe they actually still do?

Make a meme from Dallas Cowboys’ loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers - DMN
Having trouble handling all this losing? Try this therapeutic approach of building your own meme by captioning these images. Here's mine.

Here's whom to blame as Cowboys hit rock bottom - Rick Gosselin, SportsDay
The offense didn't score a single touchdown for the third time during this seven game losing streak, but does it go deeper than just the offense?

A defensive drought also continued for the Cowboys. It was the third consecutive week that the defense had a chance to save a game with a drive-stopping play in the closing minutes that would have ended the losing streak. It also was the third consecutive Sunday this defense has failed. All told, those three drives covered 36 plays and 215 yards. That's 36 chances to end the losing streak. Thirty-six chances to succeed, 36 chances to fail. Thus far it's been all failures -- no sacks, no fumbles, no interceptions, no nothing. Just losses.

Terry Bradshaw suggests Cowboys should fire Jason Garrett - Barry Horn, SportsDay
Terry Bradshaw decided to provide some insight as to what changes are needed in Dallas.

"If there is one thing I would change in Dallas is that they need a head coach that people fear a little bit, someone they are scared of getting on the wrong side of."

I haven't been this disappointed in Terry since he decided to do that nude scene in that "Failure to Launch" movie.

The Cowboys Need Fixing, But How? - Blogging The Boys
If anyone has any ideas on how the Cowboys can be fixed, please drop them off at the suggestion box outside of Valley Ranch. If you don't see a box, just hold tight because I'm sure one's coming.

This has been the season of almost but not quite for Dallas. Sacks that just don't quite happen, dropped interceptions, dropped passes, run plays into stacked boxes when the play should have been changed at the line, so many times the players have just not closed the deal on both sides of the ball. That makes it very hard to evaluate who should be part of the future for the team and who needs to be replaced, because almost everyone has had their "aw, crap" moments. It may be largely because of the mounting pressure they feel as the losses pile up. Tense players who have had their confidence shaken do not generally play their best. This is why this loss is so devastating, because each one just builds that doubt. If things don't turn around rapidly with Romo back, it could be really ugly by the end of the year.

Don’t Forget About These 5: Fumble Overturned, Late No-Call - Nick Eatman, The Mothership
The two picks by Jeff Heath were a pleasant surprise, but the Cowboys still didn't capitalize on all their opportunities and one of these could have ended up being huge.

Dropped pick by Patmon – Just before the half, the Cowboys held a 6-3 lead and perhaps could’ve added more points when cornerback Tyler Patmon stepped in front of a Jaemis Winston pass around the Bucs’ 40. Patmon had both arms on the ball but couldn’t secure the catch, allowing Tampa to keep the ball. Had Patmon come away with the pic, he likely returns it inside the 30 and could’ve handed the Cowboys an even bigger lead. It’s the second time this year Patmon has dropped an interception, also letting one go in New Orlenns earlier this season.