Cowboys Can Still Make Playoffs After Thanksgiving Loss to L.A. Chargers, Believes Possibly Deluded Jerry Jones

Even after the most dispiriting loss of a Cowboys season that has veered, slowly, off the rails, Jerry Jones refused to give up the ghost of a first Super Bowl in 21 years.

The Cowboys had been torched through the air by Philip Rivers and the unpredictable Chargers, who vaulted themselves into contention to win the AFC West on Thanksgiving Day and all but condemned Jones’s Boys to a defeat that leaves them relying on the incompetence of the teams above them in the NFC to make the playoffs.

It isn’t happening, not least because the Cowboys are now two games behind the Falcons who occupy the NFC’s sixth seed. Because Ezekiel Elliott has three more games of a suspension to serve, and without him Dak Prescott keeps throwing interceptions as he tries to jump-start an offense lacking its motor. (Prescott threw three more picks against the Chargers on Thursday night in Arlington). Because even if they caught the Falcons, if the offense could right itself in Elliott’s absence, then there are still the Packers, the Lions, the Seahawks to jump over. One of those teams is going to win as many if not more of their remaining games than the Cowboys.

Without Elliott the Cowboys are a bad offense. Without Sean Lee, the middle linebacker and spiritual leader of the defense, they cannot keep teams out of their own endzone. The Lee-less defense let Rivers complete 27 of 33 passes for 434 yards and three touchdowns. Wide receiver Keenan Allen caught 11 passes for 172 yards. NFL.com noted that the Cowboys couldn’t force a punt all game. Almost everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong. Zach Martin, a key part of the offensive line, was ruled out of the game with a concussion. Even the sunlight beat Jason Garrett’s team. “Sun glare in AT&T Stadium could have cost the Cowboys,” Kevin Patra wrote on NFL.com. “Rookie corner Jourdan Lewis dropped a would-be interception in the second quarter with the score tied. It appeared Lewis lost the ball in the sun and had it deflect off his hands, falling harmlessly to the turf.”

And still, Jones believes. "I think you have [Cowboys] players that have played at high levels and won games," Jones told ESPN. "But the answer [to whether the Cowboys can make the postseason] is yes, as long as you have a breath to get into the playoffs. We had the Giants come up the backside here and beat the top seed. They won the whole thing five, six, seven years ago. That's what is great about this game."

Such steadfast zealotry is weirdly admirable. It’s the way Jones has always been as Cowboys owner, of course: an indefatigable exhorter. It’s also dangerous for Garrett. "I don't want to look like they're [the Cowboys coaching staff] getting the proverbial endorsement," Jones said. "That's not what's happening, the vote of confidence. I want to say it the best I can. That's not what I'm saying. I feel good about our staff.” If Jones thinks the Cowboys are sneaking into the playoffs, he is mistaken. And that could, eventually, cost a luckless Garrett his job.