The Dallas Cowboys lost their last two regular-season games, allowing a total of 62 points, to fall out of playoff contention.
However, it wasn't the late fade cost defensive coordinator Rob Ryan his job, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones confirmed Wednesday.
In an interview with KTVT-TV in Dallas, Jones pointed to two early-season games that were a big part of the reason why Ryan was fired Tuesday.
While the defense was battered by injuries late in the season, the unit was largely healthy for a 27-7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sept. 16 and a 34-18 loss to the Chicago Bears on Oct. 1.
"I didn't like the way we were playing in a lot of cases," Jones said in the interview. "I thought we could play better before the injuries, and so I factored that in. It wasn't like we had a lot of injuries out here when we played Chicago. It wasn't like we had a lot of injuries when we played Seattle. I didn't like the way we played there.
"It's not hard for me to go to those games and say what can we do to improve when we played Seattle and when we played Chicago, and I liked the way we played in subsequent games and I know we didn't have the talent level on the field that we had when we played Seattle and Chicago."
Dallas missed out on a playoff berth by losing its first two games, 34-31 in overtime against the visiting New Orleans Saints, then 28-18 to the Redskins at Washington in a game that decided the NFC East championship.
The Cowboys (8-8) allowed at least 24 points in five of their final six games, going 3-3 in that span.
Dallas' defense ranked 19th in the league in 2012 after placing 14th in 2011, Ryan's first year in Dallas.
The defense was hampered by season-ending injuries to defensive end Kenyon Coleman, safety Barry Church, linebackers Bruce Carter and Sean Lee, and nickel back Orlando Scandrick.
Nose tackle Josh Brent also missed the final four games after he was charged with intoxication manslaughter after he crashed his car in an accident that killed Cowboys practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown Jr.
"Nobody living hates sitting around watching somebody else play in these playoff games more than me," Jones said. "Now that's no consolation, but the facts are, I can do something about it. There are things I can do about it. Some of the very things I am criticized for is the fact that I am in a position to directly do something about it."
The Cowboys fired running backs coach Skip Peete on Monday.