The Norman Transcript

National Sports

September 17, 2013

DT Jason Hatcher insists Cowboys will be contender

IRVING, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys followed a big win over the New York Giants in the opener with a worrisome loss on the road — just like last year.

Tony Romo had a big turnover, the defense didn’t get a takeaway and couldn’t make a critical stop in the final minutes — just like last year.

Defensive tackle Jason Hatcher is certain this isn’t just like 2012.

“I’m not worried about last year’s woes or whatever: 1-1 and then you go downhill,” Hatcher said after Sunday’s 17-16 loss at Kansas City. “That will not happen. We’re going to be a contender when this is all said and done.”

Hatcher did his part to make sure this showing was better than last year’s loss in Seattle, getting six tackles, a sack, another tackle for loss and a batted pass. But Hatcher was also in the middle of a defense that couldn’t stop the Chiefs in time to give Romo one more realistic shot at a winning drive.

Jamaal Charles had 8 yards on eight carries when Kansas City took over with 3:50 remaining. He needed just two tries to surpass that — and get the first of three first downs that left the Cowboys just 16 seconds from their 4-yard line. Charles had 47 yards on the final Kansas City possession.

A week after getting six takeaways against the Giants, the Cowboys didn’t have any. They were plus-5 in turnover margin in the opener, and minus-2 this time.

“We’ve got to outplay their defense,” Hatcher said. “They got two turnovers, we’ve got to get four. Up front we made some clutch plays, but when it counted we didn’t show up.”

There were several troubling developments for Romo’s offense heading into Sunday’s home matchup with St. Louis. Dallas struggled getting touchdowns from inside the 20 — another issue a year ago. Romo’s accuracy, and even his velocity, appeared off at critical moments a week after the Giants roughed up his ribs.

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