A long film session produced no easy answers yesterday at Redskin Park as coaches and players saw that a 27-17 Thanksgiving Day loss to the Dallas Cowboys was pretty much a team effort.

Safety Todd Bowles and tackle Jim Lachey, who'd played at a high level all season, had bad games. Tackle Joe Jacoby had enough problems with defensive end Tony Tolbert that he probably will go back to the bench this week when Ed Simmons returns to the starting lineup.

That's just the beginning. Dallas tight end Jay Novacek burned the Redskins three times in the second half, beating a different player each time. He got past Wilber Marshall for a 24-yard play on second and nine. He slipped away from Alvoid Mays for a 15-yard gain on third and 10. Finally, Novacek made the biggest play of the day -- catching a 41-yard pass on third and four with the score tied -- after Monte Coleman pulled a hamstring.

Quarterback Mark Rypien hit some things and missed some others. There was a blocked punt and a big kickoff return allowed and . . .

"A little bit of everything," Coach Joe Gibbs said.

In fact, the Redskins suffered such an across-the-board systems failure that the overall mood almost brightened by the time they returned to work yesterday. No matter how bad they are, they're surely not as bad as they played Thanksgiving Day at Texas Stadium.

Coaches and team officials who normally don't make excuses were searching for excuses. They found easy ones in a schedule that had them playing three times in 11 days -- twice on the road.

Now, the Redskins (6-5) say there are no more excuses. They play three of their five remaining games at home, beginning with the Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears at RFK Stadium the next two Sundays.

The message at Redskin Park: Don't bury us yet.

"It remains to be seen what kind of team we have," Gibbs said. "We're going to find out how we're going to be remembered for this year. That's coming up in the next five weeks. We'll find out what kind of team we have because we're going to be playing good teams. This is the way it should be."

Asked about how the loss to Dallas had hurt the Redskins' playoff chances and how their schedule stacked up against the Vikings', Packers' and others, Gibbs cut the questioner off.

"I'm not worried about that anymore as much as just us going out and winning a football game," he said. "The playoffs is obviously one of the things we're playing for. We're going to be the underdog for a while. Very few people think we're even going to make it right now. We're going to have to fight our guts out the next five games."

The Redskins traditionally have been a good team in December, winning 24 of 31 since Gibbs became coach in 1981. However, they have been inconsistent in almost every area this season.

Four days after scoring a hustling, emotional victory over the New Orleans Saints, the Redskins were outhustled and outplayed in Dallas.

The Redskins say the problems were spread over so many areas that the only solution was that they got caught on a bad day.

Gibbs pointed out that the Redskins had been underdogs in all their previous defeats -- before Dallas.

"We're all kind of together in this," he said. "We're inconsistent right now. We've played a little bit like that from week to week, and we were like that in this game. We made some good plays, then we'd make some bad plays. Special teams were like that. We played great and covered great at times, but we also had a punt blocked and let them run a kickoff back. That's kind of where we are as a football team, and we talked that over today.

"We realize it and we're going to be totally out of {this slump} or badly beaten by these good teams coming in here."

There appear to be no plans for a major shakeup this week. Simmons likely will move back in front of Jacoby at right tackle, but he'd had the job anyway until getting hurt against the Philadelphia Eagles two weeks ago.

Jacoby apparently didn't play much worse than anyone else, but the Redskins believe Simmons is the better player.

Cornerback A.J. Johnson, who wasn't even expected to play this year after undergoing knee surgery, has had a miraculous recovery and will be activated if he has a good week of practice.

Gibbs's top priority this week will be to restore the running game. If inconsistency has been the theme for this season, that's especially true in the running game, which produced only 36 yards against the Cowboys.

They had only six yards at the half and Rypien ended up throwing a career-high 54 passes, with the Cowboys at times putting seven and eight players into pass coverage.

Gibbs refused to pinpoint blame for the running failure. Earnest Byner rushed for 39 yards, but he got 116 against New Orleans four days earlier.

The last four weeks the Redskins offense has produced 213, 674, 200, 423 and 297 yards. They've rushed for 64, 192, 50, 112 and 36 yards in those games.

"Any time in this league when you become one-dimensional, you're in trouble," Gibbs said. "We're real good at throwing the football, and sometimes I think I go that way a little too quickly. We're good at it, and we've been getting behind. You want to get back on the board and the fastest way is going down the field throwing the football."

Gerald Riggs is at least two weeks from returning because of an injury and Gibbs said Byner would continue to get the carries in the backfield. Gibbs said he realized that the running back often gets too much of the blame and too much of the credit, but he said that Byner ran about the same against the Cowboys as he had against the Saints.

"The problem is not all Earnest," he said. "It's the play-calling, it's the blocking, it's a little bit of everything. Has everyone forgotten that Earnest was coming off one of the more solid games we've had out of a running game?"

Gibbs is doing what he has always done -- hoping that a hard week of practice and preparation will get his team ready to play a team that is, at the moment, better.

"It's a tough road ahead," defensive tackle Darryl Grant said. "We're up against a wall now and are going to see what we're made of. For some reason, we went to Dallas and didn't match their intensity. We played real well in spurts, then something would happen. We'd miss a tackle or they'd hit a play.

"We knew coming into this season we had a good team on paper. But that's not getting it done. We have to go out and prove it. All we've proven so far is that we're very inconsistent. I don't know how to explain it."