STEPHEN HAWKINS, AP Sports Writer
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Tony Romo had no interest in ranking just how bad this loss was for the Dallas Cowboys after throwing two interceptions in the final 3 minutes.
Owner Jerry Jones was a bit more forthright after the 37-36 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, when the Cowboys blew a 23-point lead in the second half in a defeat that kept them from getting back in the NFC East lead with two games to play.
“This is one of the hardest losses that I’ve experienced. That’s a shame that we’ve lost that ballgame,” Jones said. “When you have that kind of lead and you are playing well, and we were playing well, then it’s a shame to lose a ballgame like that.”
With their second loss in the row, after Philadelphia lost earlier in the day, the Cowboys (7-7) remained a game behind the Eagles.
A week after Chicago scored on eight consecutive possessions against them, the Cowboys watched Green Bay get touchdowns on their first five drives after halftime. The Packers’ last possession was Matt Flynn kneel-downs after Tramon Williams’ diving pick that was initially called an incompletion before being overturned on a video review.
“We’ve got two weeks to get this thing right,” cornerback Brandon Carr said. “Right now, words really have no effect. Complete debacle in the second half.”
This is arguably the worst loss in the Jones era, even though it wasn’t their biggest blown lead. The Cowboys led by 24 points in the third quarter at home two years ago against Detroit, which rallied for a 34-30 victory in a game when Romo had two interceptions returned for touchdowns.
“We’ve had some big wins, a couple of tough losses this year. This obviously falls into that tough loss category,” Romo said. “We still control what we feel like we can get done. It just doesn’t feel like it right now because we let slip away.”
Yes, Dallas can still be the NFC East champion by winning next week at Washington and then in the Dec. 29 home finale against the Eagles. The Cowboys are 4-0 vs. NFC East teams so far this season.
“Real tough loss for us out there. This is unbelievable,” Jones said. “But as it turns out we win the next two ballgames then we are exactly in the same spot as we were at 3:30 this afternoon.”
Flynn, in very possibly his last start for Green Bay (7-6-1) before Aaron Rodgers returns, threw four touchdowns in the second half. Eddie Lacy had the winning score on a 1-yard plunge with 1:31 left after the first pick by Romo.
Playing on the same field where they won the 2011 Super Bowl, the Packers matched the biggest comeback in team history. Green Bay rallied past the Los Angeles Rams after trailing by 23 in the 1982 season opener.
Dez Bryant, who had 153 yards receiving, had picked up a first down just before the 2-minute warning. But Romo threw behind Miles Austin after escaping a sack and Sam Shields got an interception at midfield. The Packers steadily moved downfield before the plunge by Lacy, who had 141 yards rushing.
Bryant had a 5-yard TD midway through the fourth quarter for a 36-24 lead, on a drive that included another near interception by Williams that was overturned on a review after being called a pick.
Dallas took only two more snaps after Lacy’s go-ahead TD. Cole Beasley made a 9-yard catch before getting out of bounds, and Romo was throwing his way again when Williams made the game-clinching play.
“We played very well in the first half and gave ourselves a great opportunity to win this ballgame by how well we played early, and then we didn’t play well in the second half. It’s just as simple as that,” coach Jason Garrett said. “We didn’t get stops on defense. We didn’t sustain enough drives. We had to kick too many field goals.”
Bryant walked off the field before the game ended and refused to talk to reporters in the locker room. Instead, he simply shook his head at them.
Dan Bailey kicked five field goals, including two 50-yarders.
As for Garrett, who led the Cowboys to 8-8 records in each of his two full seasons without getting to the playoffs, Jones emphatically repeated that there will be no coaching change, no matter what happens.
“We have to rebound. We’ve got a ball game coming up, and by the way, Garrett will coach that game against the Redskins. Book that. Write about that,” Jones said. “He will coach the ballgame we have coming up and as far as I can see in the future he will be coaching the games for the Cowboys. It’s a setback for everybody. It’s not just on one guy.”
NOTES: Romo threw for 358 yards, breaking a four-game streak without topping 250. … DeMarco Murray had 134 yards rushing and a touchdown for the Cowboys.
AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org