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As things have soured for the Dallas Cowboys in these past three weeks, it’s almost as if they are waiting for something bad to happen.

More often than not, it did.

Before Philip Rivers lit up the Cowboys for 434 yards and threw three touchdown passes, he should have had a pass intercepted by cornerback Jourdan Lewis in the second quarter. Of course, the sun might have played an issue with Lewis dropping what should have been the second interception of his career. But Jerry Jones will say the sun doesn’t play an issue in late afternoon games at AT&T Stadium. Hey, the aesthetics of the place are great.

Trailing 9-0 in the third quarter, the Cowboys nearly had their first touchdown since the first quarter of their loss to the Atlanta Falcons when Dak Prescott ran 34 yards. But left tackle Tyron Smith was flagged for a holding penalty, negating the score. On the next play, Prescott was pressured and forced to throw the ball away, leading to a punt. Los Angeles scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive and a 16-0 lead was insurmountable.

The Cowboys’ margin for error is infinitesimal at this point.

“You have to focus on doing your job,” coach Jason Garrett said. “You have to focus on making good things happen for you, and when we play our best we do that.”

The Cowboys’ past three losses have followed a similar script. They trailed 10-7 at halftime against the Atlanta Falcons and lost 27-7. They led the Philadelphia Eagles 9-7 at halftime and lost 37-9. They trailed the Los Angeles Chargers 3-0 at halftime and lost 28-6.

The redundancy is stunning. The Falcons, Eagles and Chargers all scored on the first drive of the second half. In the past three games, the defense has given up eight touchdowns and a field goal in 14 possessions. Two of those possessions ended with the opponent taking a knee. Atlanta had a touchdown wiped out by a penalty on its final drive and gave the ball up on downs at the Dallas 26.

Offensively, the Cowboys have had 13 second-half possessions in their three-game losing streak and scored one touchdown. Five possessions have ended in turnovers (three interceptions, two fumbles) and five have ended in punts.

“We come out, it’s still a game in the second half and we can’t figure out how to put points on the board,” running back Alfred Morris said. “Then we turn around and before we know it we’ve put our defense in a bad spot. The defense is getting tired. We’re keeping them out on the field too much. Too many three-and-outs. We’re not converting on third down. … I really don’t have an answer. I wish I did because then maybe we’d find a solution. It sucks and we’re better than this. We’re better than this these last three games. But it seems like the same old, same old these past few weeks. We can’t do this another week.”

A year ago, the inverse was happening for the Cowboys. Everything that could go right, did go right. One win turned into two and then 11 in a row. Confidence swelled so much that when something would go wrong, they believed it would eventually go right again. It’s what happened in an overtime win against the Eagles after Prescott struggled for three-plus quarters. It happened again in Minnesota when they recovered a fumbled punt in the fourth quarter that set up their winning touchdown.

“We just have to sit here, grab ahold, get back and see if we can do better to win some games,” owner and general manager Jerry Jones said.

If teams can make their own good fortune, the opposite is also true. That’s the vortex the Cowboys can’t seem to escape.

“How we’re playing is who we are,” defensive end David Irving said. “We are what we repeatedly do. And if we don’t fix it — and fast — then, yeah, this is who we are.”

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Even by Dallas Cowboys standards, last week was a doozy.

Owner and general manager Jerry Jones brought attention into the locker room by saying a player would be benched if he did not stand for the national anthem. President Donald Trump appreciated Jones’ comments, but some players were confused. Jones later met with the team to discuss his stance, which came after a local labor union filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board.

On the field, the Cowboys cut one of their opening day cornerbacks, Nolan Carroll. In March, the Cowboys gave him a $3 million signing bonus as their biggest free-agent signing. For less than six quarters of action, he will earn $4 million from the Cowboys ostensibly because rookie cornerback Jourdan Lewis is ready to play more.

The Cowboys saw their opening day nose tackle, Stephen Paea, retire because of a knee injury that kept him out of practice since the first week of the season. Paea’s play in the preseason allowed the Cowboys to say goodbye to last year’s biggest free-agent signing, Cedric Thornton, despite owing him $3 million. Without Paea, the Cowboys have just one true defensive tackle, Brian Price, who was claimed off waivers at the start of the season.

Not long after the Cowboys said goodbye for the bye weekend, they learned running back Ezekiel Elliott will have to serve his six-game suspension unless he is granted a temporary injunction from a New York court that already has ruled in the NFL’s favor regarding commissioner discipline.

Oh, by the way, the Cowboys are one of the more disappointing teams of the young season with a 2-3 record.

“Our focus is football and trying to right the ship,” All-Pro center Travis Frederick said. “Things obviously haven’t gone as well as we want. One of the benefits we have as being the Dallas Cowboys is we always have distractions. There’s always stuff around. That’s just kind of the world we live in, so I feel like this team is good at kind of moving that stuff to the back and thinking about football.”

Talk of distractions always seem to envelope the Cowboys, but coach Jason Garrett’s process-oriented approach has the team focusing only on the day at hand and worrying about nothing more. Remember, a year ago this was a team that lost its starting quarterback, Tony Romo, and handed the keys to a fourth-round pick.

All Dak Prescott did was put together one of the best seasons by a rookie quarterback in NFL history, and the Cowboys responded with a 13-3 record.

Prescott is just 21 starts into his NFL career, but the Cowboys already have elected him a captain and will follow his lead.

“I think just make sure nothing changes,” Prescott said. “I think we’re doing enough. We’ve just got to keep going. I think the approach of the leadership roles within our team are making sure we’re staying focused. We’re not getting down on ourselves. We’re not losing confidence from one player or from one unit or from the team. Staying focused.”

Garrett will lean on his leadership council, a group of more than a dozen players from every position group that includes Jason Witten, Prescott, Dez Bryant, Sean Lee and others.

“We rely on those guys to lead our football team,” Garrett said. “They have great credibility with me, with their teammates and with their coaches, so they’re certainly guys we count on to lead our football team day in and day out and respect their thoughts on things. The biggest thing we want to do is simply to get back to work. I think they understand that more than anybody else.”

The Cowboys officially get back to work Tuesday at noon CT for a conditioning run, followed by a team meeting.

A week ago, they still were stinging from the last-second loss to the Green Bay Packers, their second straight home defeat despite scoring 30 points in both games. They were dealing with Jones’ comments, unsure if Paea could continue to play or if Carroll even wanted to play. It took two more days for the Cowboys to learn of Elliott’s suspension.

Their off week did not go well, with every other team in the NFC East winning. Only the Chicago Bears (2-4), New York Giants (1-5) and San Francisco 49ers (0-6) have a worse record in the NFC than the Cowboys (2-3).

There is no panic, but there is a sense of urgency. To Frederick, there is a difference.

“A level of control, I would say. With a sense of urgency, you understand the situation and you are focusing on quickly identifying it and correcting it,” Frederick said. “Panic is, in my mind, pandemonium and you’ve lost control of the situation. I don’t think that’s an issue at all. I think the guys are really trying to get it right, not overreact.”

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The Dallas Cowboys’ work week is over. Given the team’s bye this weekend, the next time players are due back at The Star is Tuesday at noon for a conditioning run and then meetings.

The two days of practice this week were light. They featured a lot of Cowboys versus Cowboys work, starters against starters — at least those who could practice — and backups against backups. There was not much of a deep dive into what has led to the team’s 2-3 start. That will be saved for the coaches’ work.

But as the Cowboys get ready to come back from the bye, what can they change to make sure 2-3 doesn’t turn into 8-8, 7-9 or worse?

This is more difficult than people believe. The Twitter-verse wants the Cowboys to trade for Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman or a great safety or a pass-rusher. Some want the Cowboys to sign free-agent cornerback Darrelle Revis or another big-name, past-his-prime player.

Is a trade possible? Sure. But the last time the Cowboys made a significant addition at the trade deadline was wide receiver Roy Williams in 2008. That didn’t work out. That doesn’t mean you never make a deal again, but few big names change teams. Yes, the New England Patriots traded Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins and still won a Super Bowl, but everything about the Patriots is the exception and not the norm.

By cutting cornerback Nolan Carroll, the Cowboys have put their faith in third-round draft pick Jourdan Lewis. Carroll was a progress stopper, so he’s out. Now Lewis has to play better and reward the team for its faith over the final 11 weeks.

The Cowboys want to play rookie Chidobe Awuzie more at safety, but he can’t seem to steer clear of hamstring strains. They also want to play rookie safety Xavier Woods more. The Atlanta Falcons had success with multiple rookies and younger players in their secondary last year, but it’s a gamble.

Dallas’ vaunted offensive line needs to play better too. One change could come at left guard, where Chaz Green and Jonathan Cooper have shared starting duties the first five games. Will the Cowboys give Byron Bell a chance to start, which could help their interior pass protection but maybe take away some of their versatility in the run game?

Linebacker Sean Lee’s return to the lineup will absolutely help a defense that has been ripped apart in the two games he has missed. Linebacker Anthony Hitchens should be better as he gets accustomed to game speed after missing the first four games with a tibial plateau fracture. If that happens, the D’s quality of play should be better, and second-year linebacker Jaylon Smith won’t be asked to play so many snaps.

Dallas shouldn’t give away top-end future draft picks in hopes of hitting the jackpot. The Cowboys need their top players to perform better, they need their role players to play better, and they need their coaches to coach better.

The Cowboys’ biggest improvement in the final 11 games has to come from within.