It was clearly a fatal flaw last season when the Cowboys ruined a 13-3 season with a first-round playoff loss.
It remains a question that concerns anyone who believes the Cowboys have the talent to make a Super Bowl run in 2008. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones even admitted as much before Sunday's game against Redskins.
With his team coming off two big showdown victories against the Eagles and Packers, Jones said he wanted to see how his team fared against a good team like the Redskins after a week of getting a lot of pats on their back.
Well, the Cowboys flunked this early test in a 26-24 setback.
It wasn't so much that they lost to a very good Redskins team that has won three straight games after dropping the season opener.
It was that they got outplayed and their effort was listless, raising questions about their preparation heading into the game.
"It's a reality check," Dallas cornerback Adam Jones said. "Truly, I think we needed it as a team. ... It will all work out at the end of the year."
"The reality of it is you hope to go 16-0 but it's pretty unrealistic," quarterback Tony Romo said. "I know it happened last year but that is not the norm. It's disappointing and frustrating. But we are a confident bunch and I think we will bounce back next week with a lot to prove."
With an upcoming stretch against the Bengals (0-4), Cardinals (2-2) and Rams (0-4), the Cowboys have a chance to get back on a roll.
But the ultimate measuring stick is playing at a Super Bowl level.
The question for the Cowboys is was this just a one-game hiccup or a true chink in the armor of a team picked by many to make a Super Bowl run in 2008?
What's certain is the Cowboys will have to find a way to fix a running game that mustered only 44 yards against the Redskins and a passing game that has seen teams take the Romo-to-Terrell Owens connection out of rhythm.
Owens caught just two passes last week. Although he had seven for 71 yards and a touchdown, he was largely undone by a Redskins defense that played physical and used double teams to take him out of the offense.
Romo completed just 28 of 47 passes and though he passed for 300 yards, tying Troy Aikman for the most such efforts in club history, he was inefficient for most of the day.
He had a crucial interception that led to points. Turnovers have been a bugaboo for Romo, who has had a turnover in each of the first four games.
Most damning for the Cowboys was a penalty for 12 men on the field when the Cowboys were trying to stop the Redskins and get the ball back late in the fourth quarter. Safety Pat Watkins was singled out as the culprit.
"It was 12," Adam Jones said. "We were in single and not to point no fingers, but Pat shouldn't have been on the field."
The play allowed another 3:32 to come off the clock before the Cowboys could get the ball back after the Redskins kicked a 29-yard field goal.
"I can't understand how two players playing the position could be standing there," Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said. "I can't fathom that. They were standing right next to each other."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's no secret, when I get involved, we move the chains. When I don't, we're more stagnant in our offense." - WR Terrell Owens.
TRENDING: Quarterback Tony Romo has had a turnover in each of the first four games.
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