IRVING, Texas (AP) -With three losses in four games, reality has finally hit the Dallas Cowboys.
Those 13 wins and 13 Pro Bowl players last season that led to Super Bowl expectations this season? None of those mean anything now.
``It's like we've been riding a wave. Now, the wave is gone. We're just like everybody else,'' linebacker Bradie James said Monday. ``No matter what the talent is, publicity, whatever goes on here, it doesn't really matter.''
Not a day after a 34-14 loss at St. Louis, with the Rams reeling off 34 consecutive points after Dallas scored on the game's opening drive.
Less than halfway through the season, the Cowboys (4-3) already have as many losses as they had all last season. The only victory over the past four-game stretch was a lackluster performance at home against winless Cincinnati, the NFL's only seven-loss team.
``Our identity is missing. We need to realize and figure out who we are and what we are going to be and be it and live and die by it,'' nose tackle Tank Johnson said.
at could apply to the entire team though Johnson was referring specifically to the defense, which allowed 160 yards rushing and three touchdowns by Steven Jackson, the running back Dallas passed on in the 2004 draft and got Julius Jones instead.
America's Team came into the season with such high expectations, and started by winning its first three games. The Cowboys are instead in third place in NFC East and their only division victory came against Philadelphia, the only team below them in the standings.
Owner Jerry Jones is having to answer about second-year coach Wade Phillips' job security. Jones on Monday reiterated his postgame comments that no coaching change was planned.
``That kind of talk comes up with coaches all the time when things aren't going well,'' said Phillips, 17-7 with the playoff loss included. ``Things are going well here, I understand that. But it's not going to affect how we prepare this week.''
Before a much-needed bye in two weeks, the Cowboys play a pair of division leaders. They host Tampa Bay on Sunday, then visit the rival New York Giants.
``Now it's time for us to come together, not only find solutions, but find a cure, and really the only thing that cures that is winning,'' James said.
e.
When pressed about what kind of changes, Phillips said that wouldn't necessarily be lineup or personnel changes.
``I think we have the right personnel in place,'' he said. ``But it could be practice, it could be plays, it could be defenses, those kinds of things. We need to identify what we do well and stick with that. ... It's what we do with the personnel and how we are utilizing the players' abilities and what they are doing.''
The Cowboys aren't sure when quarterback Tony Romo will be able to play again because of the broken pinkie on his throwing hand.
Romo walked through the locker room when it was open to reporters Monday, but grabbed a pair of shoes from his locker and left without answering questions. His right hand was wrapped.
Asked about Romo's status, Phillips responded, ``To be determined. I think it's going to be similar to where he was last week.''
Romo, after being limited in his only practice last week after getting hurt, was listed as the backup rather than the third quarterback Sunday. The two-time Pro Bowler threw some in warmups before the game and after halftime.
``He could have gone in, but we didn't feel like he'd be effective if he had gone in,'' Phillips said.
nished 17-for-34 for 234 yards with a TD pass in the final 2 minutes.
While the return of Romo could provide a spark, Phillips said there were a lot of factors that still had to be considered before the quarterback's status was determined this week.
Defensively, Tank Johnson believes the Cowboys need to get back to basics in their 3-4 defensive scheme.
``We are trying to do so many things that we are getting into our own way,'' Johnson said. ``We need to get two or three plays and perfect them and beat the hell out of people with them.''
Defensive specialist Phillips acknowledged, without being specific, that such streamlining was possible.
``We lost a game we should have lost, period,'' Marcus Spears said. ``The season is still prevalent, a lot of things left to still be accomplished. Right now, we've got to get better.''

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