Cowboys interim coach Josh Hannay says the players "did the jersey and the club a disservice" with the football they dished up in the first half of the 30-10 loss to the Titans on Sunday.
Hannay also said captain Michael Morgan, who played his first game since shoulder surgery, had probably tried too hard in an underwhelming display where he missed seven tackles and made three errors.
Morgan wasn’t on his own by any stretch with the Cowboys missing 35 tackles and making 15 errors.
The loss was the Cowboys' sixth in a row, the first time they’d had such a sequence of defeats since 2010.
It was a bitter pill to swallow for Hannay after the Cowboys had played with grit and desire in losses to the Sea Eagles and Raiders in the two games he had coached since Paul Green parted ways with the club.
"It was a real step backwards for us. I thought we’d made some improvements in that [attitude] area the past two or three weeks," Hannay said.
"I thought the first half [where the Titans led 20-0] was just really poor. They did the jersey and the club a disservice with some of the football that was put out there.
Match Highlights: Titans v Cowboys
"The Titans deserve a lot of credit. They came out and played a really controlled half of football and took advantage of everything we gave them. We were horrible.
"Effort doesn’t guarantee you reward but it gives you a chance. We’ve been in games the last couple of weeks through effort but have just lacked a bit of finesse. Today it was non-existent in the first half."
Morgan and his wife had welcomed their first child during the week and he wanted to top it off with a win, but it was not to be.
"It is a week he will never forget having the birth of his first child," Hannay said.
"He is his harshest critic Mick and he is in there pretty disappointed with some of the involvements he had. There is a bit of rust there and that is to be expected.
"A lot of his errors came from trying to do something to help the team, and we put ourselves in that hole as a group and individuals where you start chasing your tail and going for the low percentage kick, offload or trying to spark the team.
"Mick might have been guilty of that a little bit there today, trying too hard.
"It was certainly great to have him back and he’ll be better for that."
Hannay has put his hat in the ring to be full-time coach in 2021. He said he was "really confident" the speculation about the next Cowboys mentor had not affected the team.
"I know there are a lot of candidates who have put their hand up for the job and there will come a point in time where they narrow that down when it gets to the final process," he said.
"I will be part of that. Right now I am putting my case forward day-in and day-out around the place and with the playing group. I am not waiting for an interview to put my case forward."