By David Moore
sportsday.dallasnews.com

ARLINGTON -- Declarative statements uttered on the first day of October rarely hold up over the final three months of the regular season.
But four games deep into the schedule, this much is clear: The Cowboys don't resemble the team that took the NFL by storm one short year ago.
For a few fleeting moments in the first half Sunday afternoon, they did. The Cowboys blueprint for success -- run the ball, control the clock and avoid turnovers -- was in full display.

It was merely a tease. Quarterback Dak Prescott lost his accuracy, Ezekiel Elliott lost his touches and the Cowboys were unable to subdue the surging Los Angeles Rams.
The 35-30 loss dropped the Cowboys to 2-2. Dallas didn't suffer its second loss until Dec. 11 in 2016.

It also marked the team's first regular-season loss at AT&T Stadium since last year's opener. A Dallas team that had won eight straight games at home by an average of 11.5 points failed on this day because Jared Goff and Todd Gurley were better than Prescott and Elliott.
The Rams didn't exactly "whoop up" on the Cowboys the way Gurley enthusiastically proclaimed heading into this contest, but they did outscore the Cowboys 22-6 over the game's final 30-plus minutes.
"It's frustrating," Prescott said. "We come out, we're on fire and we're feeling good.
"Then we go into halftime and come back and it's not the same."
Prescott certainly wasn't the same. He was methodically brilliant in the first half, leading the Cowboys to scores on all four of its possessions. The only gaffe was a fumbled punt by rookie Ryan Switzer that quickly resulted in a Rams touchdown.
The second half was a different story. Prescott completed just nine of 21 passes for 97 yards. He did throw a touchdown pass to the often overlooked James Hanna, but he also had an interception after his arm was hit by hard-charging nose tackle Michael Brockers.
That mistake led to one of seven field goals -- do not adjust your reading glasses -- by Greg Zuerlein.
"I think I missed some throws in the second half that I didn't miss in the first half or that I can't miss, simply," Prescott said. "I just have to be more accurate especially in two minute drives."
Elliott's impact also faded. The running back ripped off a 16-yard run on his first play of the second half, giving him 15 carries for 72 yards.
He had six carries for 13 yards the rest of the way.
"We always say when we come out in the second half that it's zero to zero," Elliott said. "We've got to come out there like it's a new game, and we've got to get a fast start.
"We just didn't come out and execute. They did a good job on defense stopping us and their offense did a good job having long drives and running the time out."
Prescott maintains the Rams didn't do anything differently in the second half. Coach Jason Garrett said there were no schematic differences.
But Los Angeles coach Sean McVay said defensive coordinator Wade Phillips made some adjustments that allowed the Rams to be more efficient on early downs. Owner Jerry Jones commented on LA's adjustments and called Phillips, the man he fired in November of 2010, "a hell of a coach.''
The Cowboys were held to 153 yards in the second half, after racking up 287 yards in the first two quarters, and were 2 of 7 on third down conversions.

"Wade Phillips was the difference out here today," Jones said. "He did an outstanding job."
The offensive momentum the Cowboys had in the first half eroded because of to their misfires on third down. Dallas was unable to extend its first possession of the third quarter when Dez Bryant dropped a first-down pass on third-and-11. A completion to Cole Beasley on third-and-7 on the team's next possession came up 2 yards short.
Prescott sailed a pass well over Bryant's head on third-and-6 on the team's next possession then was picked off on third-and-9 the next time Dallas was on the field.
By then, the Cowboys' 24-13 lead going into the final two minutes of the first half was a distant memory.
"The margin's so small in this league," tight end Jason Witten said. "You have leads like that, you've got to have a chance to put them away and we couldn't do it. A lot of that is just that they played well at critical times."
The Cowboys didn't.
This isn't 2016.
"We're confident," Prescott said. "We're not going to lose confidence.
"This team is not going to do that."