ARLINGTON, Texas — Jon Kitna took the snap on fourth-and-goal inside the 1 and spun to his right, only to find Marion Barber was coming from his left. There was a handoff, a collision and a goal-line stop.
The Jacksonville Jaguars knew then the Dallas Cowboys really were as bad as their record indicated.
David Garrard and the Jaguars had their way with the Cowboys on Sunday, winning 35-17 in a game that was nowhere near that close. Garrard, the former Southern Durham High and East Carolina star, threw for four touchdowns and walked in for another while just missing a perfect quarterback rating.
Maurice Jones-Drew ran for 135 yards, and the defense doubled its season total with four interceptions.
The play at the goal line was pivotal. Jacksonville (4-4) was leading only 14-3 in the final seconds of the first half; it was the second straight play the Jags kept Barber out of the end zone. Jacksonville scored touchdowns on its first two drives of the third quarter, and the outcome was never in doubt again.
Tony Romo watched from the sideline, his left arm in a sling because of a broken collarbone, as Dallas (1-6) continued its worst start since 1989. The damning part was not even being competitive; the Cowboys' previous losses were by a touchdown or less.
"I'm dumbfounded," owner Jerry Jones said.
Coach Wade Phillips normally can find a silver lining in anything, no matter how meaningless, such as Kitna throwing for 379 yards or Dallas scoring two fourth-quarter touchdowns. He was absolutely deflated this time, his voice lacking any energy.
"I'm distraught, to say the least," Phillips said. "I've got talented players, and I'm not getting them to play well enough. To me, that's the root of the problem."
The Cowboys opened the game by driving to the Jacksonville 16. They kicked a field goal and didn't score again until they were down 28-3 in the fourth quarter.
The Phillips-run defense couldn't stop the run or the pass, and it hardly pressured Garrard. The Cowboys have gone from allowing an NFC-best 15.6 points per game last season to 26.7. They didn't allow a 100-yard runner all last season but have done so four times in five games.
Kitna actually played pretty well, going 34-of-49 in his first start since 2008. Three interceptions clanged off the hands of his receivers - "kind of a microcosm of our season," he called it.
Garrard completed his first 12 passes, finally misfiring in the third quarter to avoid a sack. He finished 17-of-21 for 260 yards. Even with three sacks and a lost fumble, his rating was 157.8; perfect is 158.3.
"It was an awesome day offensively for us," Garrard said. "I just thought we continued to come at them. We quickened the pace, and we gassed them a little bit."