JACKSONVILLE — The Dallas Cowboys’ season did not end with Sunday’s 40-34 overtime loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, but it did take a turn they could not afford heading into the Christmas Eve showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles.
“Talk about short memory,” Cowboys All-Pro right guard Zack Martin said. “You got to have a short one. We’ve got a short week and obviously have a very good football team coming in here. So we talked about it after the game, watch tape on the flight and get your mind on to Philly. “
The loss to the Jaguars prevented the Cowboys from clinching a playoff spot without help in back-to-back years for the first time since 2006-07, although they can still do so if the Washington Commanders lose to the New York Giants on Sunday night .
It also made the chances of winning the NFC East that much harder since the 13-1 Eagles will now have to lose their last three regular-season games.
“This is about momentum right now heading into the postseason,” quarterback Dak Prescott said. “Sure, we lost, but there was a lot of good in this game too, so it’s about just continuing to push forward and understanding the men that we have in this locker room and understanding what we’ve done up to this point and the foundation that we’ve laid and just continue to try and grow and get out of these mistakes.
“Whether it’s my interceptions or whatever it may be, eliminate the bad, build on the good and create momentum heading into the postseason.”
Sunday marked the beginning of the second three-games-in-12-days stretch for the Cowboys this season. They opened the first one with an overtime loss to the Green Bay Packers, then beat the Minnesota Vikings and Giants.
After playing the Eagles on Saturday, the Cowboys play at the Tennessee Titans on Dec. 29.
“I’m disappointed, but in the same breath we’ve got a crazy schedule here. Not crazy, but different we’re dealing with,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “We’ll take a look at it here on the buses and plane, and when we touch down, we’ve got to turn the page.”
There are plenty of things to correct when losing for the first time with a 17-point lead with Prescott at quarterback (30-1).
Prescott was picked off twice, including in overtime when safety Rayshawn Jenkins returned the interception for a game-winning touchdown. Prescott has 11 interceptions in nine starts this season. Last year, he had 10 interceptions on 596 pass attempts. His 11 picks this season, including eight in the past six games and at least one in four straight, have come on 281 pass attempts.
“I take every loss on the chin,” Prescott said. “I think that’s my job as the quarterback to put us in positions to win and eliminate the mistakes and the potential chances to allow them to score after turnovers. That’s what’s frustrating about it. Whether it’s a tipped ball, whether it’s an unfortunate interception, whatever it is, they all suck. And at the end of the day, I got to do a better job, and that’s where it is.”
The Cowboys’ defense gave up a season-high 34 points, recorded just one sack and lost leading tackler Leighton Vander Esch to a neck injury in the first quarter. Jacksonville ran for 192 yards on 27 carries, and Trevor Lawrence threw four touchdown passes, three to Zay Jones, whose father, Robert Jones, was a linebacker on the Cowboys’ Super Bowl teams of the 1990s.
“I’m not going to sit here and make excuses. I just say we got to get better,” linebacker Micah Parsons said. “No-excuse mentality. We got to fix up our eff ups and just go from there.”
It starts next week against the Eagles.
“We understand what type of pressure we put ourselves in and you know we’re going to learn from it, get better,” defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence said. “Got three more games of the regular season. We just got to make sure we win all of them.”