Time to Come Together

IRVING, Tex. - The Dallas Cowboys' training facility in Valley Ranch emptied in a hurry earlier this week. As reporters drove up to the facility, players could be seen driving out of the parking lot.

By the time the media got inside, the locker room was a ghost town.

Many lockers already had been cleaned out. Maybe a couple dozen still had players' personal items, but few players made themselves visible or available for year-in-review comments. Some cleaned out their personal items and refused to answer any questions. "I'm still upset," linebacker Victor Butler said as he filled a garbage bad with his personal items before walking out of the locker room without looking back at the reporters.

Wide receiver Dez Bryant did not appear interested in talking, but when cornered by reporters, he held court and expressed his frustration with the way the Cowboys' season had ended, with the second loss of the season to the NFC East rival New York Giants.

"We felt like we prepared ourselves very well … for this matchup," Bryant said, "(but) we didn't go out there and play our best ball, and we fell short.

"It's very frustrating. We worked hard to put ourselves in those moments, and then we made mistakes when we were trying to close those games out."

Head coach Jason Garrett parroted Bryant's frustration, saying that his team's inability to perform at a high level in the latter stages of games — and on a larger scale, in the latter stage of the season — ultimately led to the Cowboys' season ending earlier than many expected."

"It's absolutely disappointing — there's no question about that," Garrett said. "It's a competitive division, it's a competitive league, and you have to go out each and every week and find ways to win football games, and we didn't do that down the stretch, and we have to find a way to fix that."

When asked if Garrett is the right coach to lead the Cowboys in the seasons ahead, Bryant immediately jumped to his coach's defense.

"He's very passionate about this game," Bryant said of Garrett, "and that's the kind of coach you need … to be leading a group of guys like us. I feel like we'll be 10 times better next year."

Bryant defended the entire organization when asked what the Cowboys lack, either on their roster or within their organization overall.

"I don't think anything is missing," he said. "We have got to work hard and execute. We have it. We just have to close out ballgames."

Bryant shook his head when asked about the Dallas losses — against the New York Jets, Detroit Lions and Arizona Cardinals — in which the Cowboys seemingly had every chance to emerge victorious.

"We have got to rally back," he said. "I feel like we will work hard this offseason, and we'll come back and get it done."

Bryant said the sting of having the season end before the postseason again will prove to be the ultimate motivation during the offseason.

"Hopefully — not hopefully … we will — rally back," Bryant said. "Like I said earlier this season, we have a lot of great players on our team. When your number is called, you have to do your job.

"This is a team game. It's not golf, it's not tennis. It ain't about me — it's about the team. We're going to come together."

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