Friday, November 30, 2007

Romo Empire Alive and Well

by John Fennelly

Dallas Handles Pack After Favre Injury

Waiting for the fall of Tony Romo? It won't happen anytime soon, I'll tell you that right now.

Romo fired 4 more TDs tonight in Dallas' 37-27 mugging of Green Bay at Texas Stadium. Terrell Owens was on the receiving end of 1 of those scoring passes but was the focal point of the Cowboy offense with 7 catches for 156 yards.

Romo was Brady-like in his rhythm and his accuracy. There was no stopping him. Brett Favre, on the other hand, injured his hand and left the game in the 2nd quarter. He was replaced by little-used Aaron Rodgers, who played admirably, but was no match for Romo and Dallas.

The victory gives Dallas a huge advantage in the conference. If all stays true to form, they will go on to grab home-field advantage in the NFC and probably end up in Arizona he first weekend in February to avenge their only loss of the season against New England.

Testaverde saw glimpses of Romo's potential


As this season rolls on, it becomes more clear with each passing game that as Tony Romo goes, so go the Dallas Cowboys. Romo took down Green Bay Thursday night, and that likely wasn’t much of a surprise to Carolina QB Vinny Testaverde. When Vinny was starting for Dallas in 2004, Romo was his backup, and Testaverde was impressed with what he saw in the kid that year.

"There’s a lot of guys that have ability but not all of them make it," Testaverde said. "You have to have some intangibles, you have to have something special about you. The thing about Tony was, he was eager to learn, he just looked like he was hungry for it, just wanted to be successful.

"He was always with me, watching film and studying and asking questions. And obviously his abilities allow him to play the position like very few have."

Testaverde said it varies with different quarterbacks, but on average he believes a young QB needs three years in the league before he’s ready to be an NFL starter. Romo watched for three seasons in Dallas, then took over. Carolina’s Matt Moore, who is likely to back up Vinny on Sunday after David Carr’s recent struggles, is a promising first-year player.

Cowboys seal NFL play-offs spot

Dallas beat Green Bay 37-27 to clinch an NFL play-off berth with their 11th win in 12games this season.

Tony Romo threw four touchdown passes as the Cowboys notched an 11-1 record for the first time in team history.

The Packers were rattled by quarterback Brett Favre having to leave the field with a second-quarter elbow injury.

"Our team is playing good football right now," said Romo, who now has 33 touchdown passes for the season - a franchise record.

A pre-game silent tribute was held for Washington safety Sean Taylor, who died on Tuesday after being shot during an apparent burglary at his Miami home.

With playoff spot secured, Cowboys keep eyes on bigger prize

Article Launched: 11/30/2007 03:02:21 PM MST

IRVING, Texas—Jerry Jones has been known for the occasional crazy Super Bowl prediction for his Dallas Cowboys. This season, the owner's hunch certainly seems more realistic.
Barring a collapse, the Cowboys could be two home playoff victories from their first Super Bowl in 12 seasons.

"I'd have a lot less chance of getting kidded now than I would over the last eight years," Jones said. "It's easy to get excited about this team, so you can envision getting to play in some big games."

Even bigger than the Cowboys' 37-27 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night.

With four games left in the regular season, Dallas (11-1) is off to the best start in franchise history and already in the playoffs. And if the New York Giants lose Sunday at Chicago, the Cowboys clinch their first NFC East title since 1998, three seasons after the latest of their five Super Bowl titles.

If the Cowboys only go 2-2 in December, they would still match the franchise record with 13 wins. More importantly, Green Bay would have to win all four of its games to take away home-field advantage through the NFC playoffs.

"The numbers are there. We all know how to calculate home-field advantage," Jones said.

Still, this group knows it's far from finished. Like Jones, the players have bigger goals than what they've accomplished in the first three-fourths of the regular season.

"What have we really accomplished at 11-1? We've got off to a greatstart, but 11-1 doesn't crown a champion," center Andre Gurode said.
"This win doesn't put us in the Super Bowl, and a loss wouldn't have knocked us out of it," Tony Romo said after throwing four touchdown passes against the team he grew up cheering for in Wisconsin. "I don't think this does anything else except say, 'You know what? We're a pretty good football team and we're playing pretty good football right now.'"

That they are, with a six-game winning streak since a 48-27 loss in mid-October to New England, which is still the NFL's only undefeated team.

With childhood hero Brett Favre on the other sideline, and Hall of Fame and Super Bowl-winning Dallas quarterbacks Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman watching in person, Romo was 19-of-30 for 309 yards against the Packers.

He matched Aikman's team record by throwing a touchdown in his 16th straight game. He also broke his tie with Danny White for the single-season TD mark, going from 29 to 33 with his fifth career four-TD game.

Terrell Owens caught seven passes for 156 yards and a touchdown, his 14th to match Frank Clarke's team record set in 1962. Owens also equaled Bob Hayes and Clarke as the only Dallas receivers with scoring catches in seven straight games.

"It's a continuation of the way he's been playing," coach Wade Phillips said. "He continues to get open, he continues to make plays."

In the Cowboys' six-game winning streak, Owens has 44 catches for 796 yards and 10 TDs. And he even proved that "Getcha popcorn ready" is more than just a saying for him by dumping a small bucket of popcorn into his facemask after scoring a touchdown.

After winning consecutive Thursday games, Romo, Owens and Co. get a three-day weekend with no practices. They don't have to be back at Valley Ranch until Monday.

The Cowboys play three of their final four games on the road, starting Dec. 9 at Detroit. Then they get Philadelphia at home before closing the regular season at Carolina and Washington.

"We don't need to stub our toe or pat ourselves on the back too much or too long," said Greg Ellis, the 10-year Cowboys veteran who was on two playoffs teams his first two years before being part of three straight 11-loss seasons.

"We've got ourselves in the driver's seat," Owens said. "Now we've got to stay there."

Notes:@ Greg Ellis, who has played only nine games, had two more sacks Thursday to push his season total to a career-high 10 1/2, one shy of DeMarcus Ware's team record for sacks by a linebacker set last season. ... Ware has 10 sacks this season, making it the first time since Ed "Too Tall" Jones and Jim Jeffcoat in 1985 for the Cowboys to have two players with at least 10 sacks in the same season. ... Wade Phillips joined Red Miller (Denver, 1977) and Steve Mariucci (San Francisco, 1997) as the only coaches to start 11-1 with a new team.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cowboys, Packers Ready For Showdown Of 10-1 Teams

Nick Eatman - Email Staff Writer
November 28, 2007 5:39 PM

IRVING, Texas - Cowboys owner Jerry Jones had no problem equating the importance of Thursday's showdown with the Packers:

"It's certainly the most significant game at this stadium since the last time we played Brett Favre and Green Bay in the NFC Championship."

And that was big.

The Cowboys beat Green Bay at the end of the 1995 season to advance to Super Bowl XXX, where they beat the Steelers for their fifth Lombardi Trophy.

But Thursday's matchup of two 10-1 teams is the biggest game at Texas Stadium since that one?

Possibly, even though the Cowboys have played two home playoff games since then. But both were wild-card games, and although the playoffs are indeed a do-or-die situation, this match-up with the Packers is worth more than a regular-season victory.

The Packers and Cowboys are both 10-1, with the next-closest teams in the conference sitting at 7-4 (Seahawks, Buccaneers and Giants).

So in all likelihood, this game is for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

The winner has the inside track to making sure the road to the Super Bowl goes through their stadium.

"We know what this game means," Cowboys tight end Jason Witten said. "We know if we win, there's a chance we can get home-field or whatever. But we really can't go into the game thinking about it. It's a big game. But it's a big game for a lot of reasons."

However, the biggest reason is what this game could mean for the winner, not so much the loser.

"Anybody who would tell you it's a season-ender if you lose (this game) doesn't understand what 10-2 is in the NFL," said Jones, who also made clear he didn't want to go to Lambeau Field at any point in the playoffs. "Green Bay is intimidating to me, in my mind. We've really, physically lost games up there."

The Cowboys have never won at Lambeau Field, losing all five meetings. Since Jones bought the team in 1989, the Cowboys have lost three games at Lambeau by a combined score of 117-50.

But the Cowboys get the Packers at home this time, and that could be a bad thing for Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre based on history. Favre has an 0-8 record at Texas Stadium, including three playoff losses. But his last trip here came back in 1999, when the Cowboys needed a 95-yard interception return for a touchdown by George Teague to stave off Favre and the Packers for a 27-13 win.

Favre said in a conference call this week he had forgotten that 1999 meeting. He certainly hasn't forgotten the Packers losing 21-6 to the Cowboys in 1996 when Dallas kicker Chris Boniol made seven field goals to tie an NFL record which has been broken this year. Favre definitely remembers his first six losses in Dallas, all of which occurred in a three-year span from 1993-95. The Cowboys won two Super Bowls in 1993 and 1995 lost in the NFC Championship Game to the 49ers in 1994. They beat the Packers at home in all three of those seasons, including the Championship Game in 1995.

But while Jones made reference to that game this week, basically everything has changed for these two teams since then.

Favre is the only player on either roster who participated in that game. And only Cowboys backup Brad Johnson was in the NFL back in 1995.

So things are vastly different for both franchises.

The Cowboys have won only one playoff game since beating the Packers to advance to the Super Bowl, owning a 1-5 record in the postseason since then.

After that loss to the Cowboys, Green Bay went on to play in the next two Super Bowls, winning one. The Packers followed that with a 2-5 postseason record and haven't been to the playoffs since 2004.

But that will change this year. And the Cowboys are hoping they can win their first playoff game in 11 years.

Maybe that's why some of the players, especially the veterans, are somewhat hesitant to get caught up in the home-field advantage talk.

"We want to take it one step at a time," said linebacker Greg Ellis, who has never won a playoff game in his career with the Cowboys since arriving in 1998. "You want to get to the playoffs first, and then win your division and maybe get a bye and then all of the other stuff. So right now, we can't get ahead of ourselves."

Ellis came to the Cowboys as a first-round draft pick nine years ago. The team's second-round pick that year, Flozell Adams, also is still around. And while he's never been considered a vocal leader, even Adams has said he's trying to instill some veteran wisdom to the younger players.

"I tell them all the time, I say forget about all of that stuff. We have to work to get up there," Adams said. "Just because we've won 10 games, it doesn't mean anything right now. We have to still win a few more just to get to that home-field. So to get there, we have to focus on now. The only thing we need to focus on is beating the Packers."

If that happens, the Cowboys not only would take a one-game lead over Green Bay in the conference standings with four to play, but also own the head-to-head tiebreaker in deciding playoff seeding.

With a win Thursday, coupled with a Giants loss in Chicago on Sunday, the Cowboys would also clinch the NFC East for the first time since 1998. They can clinch a playoff berth with a win Thursday or losses by New Orleans and Arizona.

"There's a lot at stake," quarterback Tony Romo said. "We know it's a big game for us. We know it's a big game for them. That's why it's going to be a lot of fun."

Packers game is all about who makes the key plays

By Terrell Owens
Special to the Star-Telegram

This column is a little unusual due to the fact that I will actually be talking to you about three games. The Redskins, the Thanksgiving game against the Jets and the upcoming Thursday night game against the Packers.

What a run of games we have, and two of them are back-to-back Thursday-night games.

That is a first for my career, and if I am not mistaken it could be the first time a team has played two Thursday-night games back-to-back.

Anyway, let's get started.

I know many people would expect me to be tooting my horn right now, but this whole thing is bigger than me. Our team as a whole is playing very good football. I do want to add that I am playing out of my mind right now and a lot of that is due to my commitment to hard work in practice and the hard work of my teammates.

Man, we are having fun, and for the past two or three years of my career it hasn't been much fun at all.

We as a team just have to continue to play with a chip on our shoulder; I know I am. I told you last week the Redskins would play us tough, they always do. We went into halftime down 10-7, and that was a gut check.

In the second half, as usual, we tend to play a lot better. I know a major part of that is our coaches do a great job evaluating the first half and then make the right adjustments. We really needed that because the Redskins were not just going to lie down.

Everyone made critical plays on our team and we still only won by less than seven points. They actually had a chance to win it at the end despite all the good plays we had.

That win had a lot to do with our defense and their ability to bend but not break. The real hero, though, was Terence Newman and his game-saving interception with under two minutes to play.

We then turned around after three short days and played the Jets on Thanksgiving Day.

They rolled into our stadium and thought they were going to be the ones eating the turkey at the end of the game. Not in our house; like clockwork the second half was ours. As I said before, adjustments, adjustments, adjustments -- our coaches are the best at that.

Terence Newman also had a déja vu with his interception for a touchdown. That play really opened the gates for us and the momentum was all ours after that.

They would have to get back on the plane and get their turkey back in New York.

It was another good win for us, but the real tough game will be Thursday night against Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers.

The networks will have their fun this week building the game up with all the comparisons they will make between the two quarterbacks.

I got to tell ya, I am very excited, two 10-1 teams fighting for home-field advantage in the playoffs. I know in our stadium our fans will be crazed and full of energy, and we will feed off of that.

I have been mentioning the home-field advantage in my past columns and how crucial it is in the playoffs.

Brett Favre is playing the best he has played in his career, and his young team is following him like he's the Pied Piper. Their defense is also playing well and their corners will be up for the fight.

Both teams are playing well in all phases of the game and it will come down to one or two plays that make the difference.

It will be like a heavyweight fight. Packers-Cowboys, be there!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Favre, Romo receive equal billing

But Romo will get more cheers when their teams play Thursday.
By Nancy Armour, Associated Press
Article Launched: 11/28/2007 03:14:49 AM PST

BURLINGTON, Wis. - On the wall behind the bar at Fred's - the self-proclaimed home of the world's best burger - Tony Romo and Brett Favre get equal billing. A signed Romo jersey hangs in a frame on one side, a big picture of a young Favre on the other.
Most weeks, there's no conflict in this division of loyalties. Residents can root for Romo, the local kid who grew up to be quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, and still be loyal to Favre and the Green Bay Packers.

But this week, an agonizing choice will have to be made. When the Packers play at Dallas on Thursday night in a game that could decide home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, you may as well ask the folks in Burlington which family member they like best.

"Probably the best scenario that could happen is if Tony throws for five touchdowns and loses to the Packers by a point. I think that would be the best scenario for everyone in Burlington," said Fred Mabson, the Fred of Fred's Parkview who has known Romo since the quarterback was 8 or 9.

"It's hard not to have strong feelings on either side."

Though it is closer to Chicago than Green Bay, Burlington sits squarely in Packers country.

Green Bay flags fly outside of several homes, there are Packers bumper stickers and window decals galore, and signs outside of bars tout big-screen TVs and drink specials for games.

One home even has a wooden Packer supporting its mailbox.

And the playground outside an area elementary school? It has green swings and a gold slide.

"That's Packer country, man," said Dallas tight end Jason Witten, who is one of Romo's best friends on the Cowboys and has been back to Burlington with him. "They love Tony now, there's a lot of No. 9 jerseys up there. But I think they love Brett Favre a little bit more right now."

Insider: A look at the Cowboys

A closer look at the Packers' next opponent, the Dallas Cowboys.

Quick facts

Game: 7:15 p.m. Thursday; Texas Stadium, Irving, Texas.

Record: 10-1.

Coach: Wade Phillips (55-39, sixth season overall; first season with Cowboys).

Last week: Playing at home on Thanksgiving, the Cowboys had little trouble with the New York Jets in a 34-3 win.

Series: The teams have split 20 regular-season meetings. The Cowboys lead the postseason series 4-2 and have won eight straight games against the Packers in Dallas.

Last meeting: The Packers scored on their first seven possessions on the way to a 41-20 rout of the Cowboys on Oct. 24, 2004, at Lambeau Field. It was Brett Favre's second win against the Cowboys in 10 tries.

Odds and ends

Cowboys receivers coach Ray Sherman spent five seasons coaching the same position with the Packers (2000-04). … Phillips is 1-1 against the Packers as a head coach. He lost to the Packers in 1993 as the Denver Broncos coach and beat them in 2000 with the Buffalo Bills. … The Cowboys rank second in the NFL in total offense (11th in rushing offense and fifth in passing offense) and seventh in total defense (fourth against the run and 21st against the pass).

Key injuries

The Cowboys will be without receiver Terry Glenn (knee), who has been out all season. Receiver Patrick Crayton (ankle) is expected to return this week. Receiver Anthony Henry (ankle) also is expected to play. They were the only players listed on Tuesday's injury report.

Player to watch: Terrell Owens

Position: Receiver.

Number: 81.

Height: 6-foot-3.

Weight: 218 pounds.

Age: 33.

College: Tennessee-Chattanooga.

NFL experience: 12th season (second with Cowboys).

What to watch for: He'll turn 34 on Dec. 7 but hasn't shown any signs of slowing down. He still has adequate speed and runs good routes. He's strong and tough and hasn't shown any of the bad attitude that has dogged him in the past. He has quickly developed a bond with quarterback Tony Romo, who became the starter last season. Owens is second in the NFL in receiving yards (1,093) and touchdowns (13) behind New England's Randy Moss. Owens has been especially productive of late with 30 catches for 537 yards and eight touchdowns in his last four games. His 85-catch, 1,180-yard, 13-touchdown season in 2006 was his best since 2004, when he had 77 catches, 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns in 14 games with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Last time against the Packers: In 2004 with the Eagles, Owens had eight catches for 161 yards and a touchdown in a 47-17 Philadelphia win. This will be his first game against the Packers as a member of the Cowboys.

Duel in Dallas: Angry Packers Fans Have to Hit Bars to Watch Game

Packers Gameday at 4:00 p.m. on Newsradio 620 WTMJ

Related Coverage: Woodson Game-Time Decision | Rodgers Impersonates Romo | A Packers Fan in Cowboys Nation | Packers Grieving Loss of Sean Taylor

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Now this is what football is all about. Trouble is, a lot of people won't get to see it.

The Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys, both 10-and-1, go head-to-head Thursday night for bragging rights and possibly homefield advantage in the postseason.

Behind center for Dallas, Burlington's Tony Romo. On the other side, as always, Wisconsin's answer to Elvis, Brett Favre. Pull up the La-Z-Boy, pop open some suds and lose the remote control, right?


The game will be shown only on the NFL Network and in Green Bay and Milwaukee. More than half-a-million other cable customers will have to park it in a bar with a satellite dish, visit friends with a dish or listen on the radio.

That's left plenty of Packer backers seriously peeved.

"The Packers are a ritual for a lot of people. They plan their life around it. Not being able to see the game is traumatic," said Bill Bessette, 46, of Madison, where the game won't be shown on cable TV company Charter.

The NFL Network is available in about 35 million of the nation's more than 111 million homes with televisions. The network's growth has been stymied by a dispute with cable providers that won't carry it on a basic tier.

Wisconsin sports fans already are upset the state's major cable companies -- Charter and Time Warner -- don't carry the Big Ten Network, another sports-only network that carries Big Ten college sports.

Last year, the NFL Network exclusively showed a December Packers game against the Minnesota Vikings. But the Dallas game is far bigger. The outcome could determine the top team in the National Football Conference.

Fans in Green Bay and Milwaukee will get to see the game. NFL rules require games be made available to over-the-air providers in a team's home market. But fans in other Wisconsin cities, including La Crosse, Madison and Wausau, will have to find somebody with a dish.

John Miller, a spokesman for Charter's Midwest region, said the NFL could have chosen to sell the game to any broadcaster it wished. Stacy Zaja, a spokeswoman for Time Warner Wisconsin, said the NFL has refused cable companies' offers to place the NFL Network on a sports tier, insisting it be part of expanded basic cable.

NFL Network spokesman Seth Palansky countered that cable companies insist there isn't enough demand for the network.

"We're trying to convince a company that thinks eight shopping channels and cage-fighting is what people want on their cable boxes more so than football," he said.

Football fans across the country have endured the same ordeal as Packers and Cowboys lovers, said Barry Orton, a University of Wisconsin-Madison telecommunications professor. Little will change until the NFL lets cable providers become partners in the network, he said.

"This whole thing goes away once they get a piece," he said.

Until then, fans can follow the game with online updates, visit friends with dishes, listen to the radio, rent a hotel room with a TV in Green Bay or Milwaukee or find a bar with a dish.

Jenny Annis, co-owner of Legends Bar and Grill in downtown Merrill, said her tavern switched from Charter to satellite about five months ago. She expects 100 people for the game, which is generating Super Bowl-level excitement.

Orton, however, said fans must realize football is a business, not a birthright.

"Nowhere in the Bill of Rights does it say you have the right to watch your hometown football team every weekend without paying more somehow," he said.

Those are fighting words in Wisconsin, where the people literally own the Packers, both on paper and in their hearts.

Tricia Weisheipl, 36, of Madison, plans to go to a bar to watch the game. Her 72-year-old Uncle Jim can't.

He's been in the hospital for several weeks with heart problems. He has a dish at home, Weisheipl said, but he'll be stuck listening to the radio Thursday night in the hospital. It won't be the same, and the stress over missing his beloved Packers in the biggest game of the year is making him feel worse, she said.

"He's livid. He's been watching them his entire adult life," said Weisheipl, who declined to give her uncle's last name. "When you're sick, you want the comforts of home, and you can't have that. I feel terrible for him. We're taking away one of his joys. The Packers are doing so well, of course he wants to watch them. That's part of being a Wisconsinite."

Associated Press writer Robert Imrie in Wausau contributed to this report.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Cowboys Clinch Playoff Spot if...

Playoff Spot #1 with Home Field Advantage
No clinching cases were found for this playoff spot

Playoff Spot #2 other playoff bye
No clinching cases were found for this playoff spot

Playoff Spot #3
No clinching cases were found for this playoff spot

Playoff Spot #4
Case 1
Cowboys beat the Packers, and
Bears beat the Giants

Playoff Spot #5
Case 1
Cowboys beat the Packers, and
Vikings beat the Lions

Playoff Spot #6
Case 1
Cowboys beat the Packers

Case 2
Buccaneers beat the Saints, and
Browns beat the Cardinals

DMN Blog: Cowboys remember Taylor

Before the Cowboys-Redskins game nine days ago, Roy Williams went looking for Sean Taylor, who he'd met at the Pro Bowl in February.

Williams didn't know Taylor was hurt, and wouldn't play in the game. So the Cowboys safety went about his business, thinking he'd see him the next time the teams play, in December.

"I just wish I could’ve said something to him," Williams said, clearly shaken up today after hearing about Taylor's passing in South Florida.

Williams is thinking about wearing Taylor's No. 21 on the back of his helmet for the rest of the year, something the league probably won't allow. The sentiment was just one sign of how these players view the tragedy -- one of their own is now gone.

Continue reading "Cowboys remember Taylor"

Posted by Albert Breer at 4:02 PM (E-mail this entry) Permalink | Comments (5)

Terry Glenn has been ruled out for Week 13

Terry Glenn has been ruled out for Week 13.

The Cowboys play on Thursday, but Glenn probably won't see the field until most fantasy seasons are over. He's not worth holding onto.

Source: Dallas Morning News

Root, Root, Root For the Home Team ... Only, Like, Which One?

Fred -- the guy who owns the World's Best Burger joint, located at the corner of Highway 11 and 36 in downtown Burlington, Wisconsin -- doesn't know for whom to root Thursday night. Like, should it be Green Bay Packers' QB Brett Favre? Or Dallas Cowboy Tony Romo, the hometown kid Fred's known since Tony was a wee lad? S'gonna be both, looks like. Kind of.

"Probably the best scenario that could happen is if Tony throws for five touchdowns and loses to the Packers by a point. I think that would be the best scenario for everyone in Burlington," said Fred Mabson, the Fred of Fred's Parkview who has known Romo since the quarterback was 8 or 9. "It's hard not to have strong feelings on either side."

KTCK-AM's mid-day host Bob Sturm, who hosts the station's Cowboys pre-game show that's long enough to consider a lifestyle, is having a similar problem. His kid's named Brett, by the way -- "partly for Hull, but more for Favre." --Robert Wilonsky

Packers backup QB Rodgers simulating Cowboys' Romo in practice

The Associated Press News Service

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -Sure, Aaron Rodgers would rather start opposite Tony Romo in Thursday night's big game at Dallas.

Instead, he has to settle for doing his best Romo impression for the Green Bay Packers in practice this week.

And no, playing the role of Romo in practice hasn't earned Rodgers any of the real-world benefits that the Cowboys' rising star seems to enjoy. No calls from pop singers, actresses or supermodels.

"Not yet," Rodgers said. "I'm waiting."

Rodgers runs the Packers' scout team in practice, simulating their upcoming opponent's quarterback to get the defense ready to play. Because of his scrambling ability, it turns out Rodgers does a pretty good Romo.

"I'm trying to get out of the pocket, because they said to get out of the pocket and throw the ball a little bit," Rodgers said. "I haven't perfected the no-look pass yet that he did against the Giants, I think. I'm working on that."

A first-round pick in 2005, Rodgers doesn't hide the fact he would rather play on Sundays at this point in his career.

And who could blame him?

The man he backs up, Brett Favre, has started a quarterback-record 248 games - 268, including the playoffs.

Instead of sulking on the sidelines, Rodgers has embraced the important but underappreciated role of running the scout team.

"It's my opportunity to play during the week, because No. 4 usually doesn't come out of the game unless we're ahead by a lot," Rodgers said.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy praised Rodgers for his hard work.

"I couldn't be more pleased with Aaron Rodgers," McCarthy said. "He gives you a full day of work every single day. He's really maturing in the classroom. He's a talented young man. I think he's going to be a fine quarterback."

Packers linebacker Nick Barnett said Rodgers' work in practice helps the defense.

"He's doing a good job, running around and trying to make plays, emphasizing that," Barnett said. "Because a lot of times, Tony gets out of that pocket and you've got to lock onto your guy and still play him close because he will try to make a play on it."

But Rodgers is happiest when defensive players get mad at him.

"They get mad if I'm running too much, or usually if I'm holding the ball too long," Rodgers said. "They just say, 'Throw the ball.' Because if nothing's open, I'm going to run. I'm going to get my workout in practice. They don't like that too much. They also say I throw too hard."

Rodgers also considers it his duty to help backups and practice-squad players get better.

"I tell the guys when they come in, I say, 'Hey, give me all you've got, and I'm going to do my best to get you activated to the active roster,"' Rodgers said.

Is that enough to stay satisfied?

"It's going to have to be enough," Rodgers said.

Rodgers made a noticeable leap forward in the preseason, earning rave reviews from coaches for his play. When the games started to count, of course, he was sent back to the sidelines.

He did throw two passes in the Packers' blowout victory over Minnesota earlier this month, only his sixth appearance in a regular season game in three years.

Still, Rodgers remains optimistic about his development.

He thanks the Packers for keeping only two quarterbacks, he and Favre, on their roster this year, because it means he gets to take more snaps in practice.

"People are going to judge my improvement and maturation when I'm in a live game situation, but I feel like every rep I'm taking in practice, I'm really just working on different things every day, just trying to be aware of the things I need to improve on," he said. Most guys don't watch the scout team film, but I do."

Meanwhile, Packers quarterback coach Tom Clements has assigned Rodgers to do his own scouting report on each Packers opponent to keep him involved in the team's offensive planning.

"That's just kept me involved," Rodgers said. "I can make comments here and there, and I know, because I've seen the plays two or three times over. Just being in my third year, I have a little bit more of a voice, I'm a little more comfortable saying things here and there to the guys. So that's just what I'm doing, trying to be prepared."

Although it sometimes doesn't seem like it, there will come a day when Favre steps away from the game. The Packers still plan on having Rodgers succeed him.

For now, Rodgers said life could be worse.

"It's very satisfying being on a team where I'm not playing and we're 10-1," Rodgers said.

Romo vs. Favre: Thursday's game is going to be fun

By Berry Tramel

Tony Romo kept his head a couple of games ago against the Redskins.

Cowboys led by five, late in the game, and Redskin defensive end Phillip Daniels grabbed Romo, who considered flinging a pass then thought better of it. Romo took the sack, the Dallas Cowboys punted and went on to victory.

Romo talked about his wise choice, then sort of grinned and came clean.

"I'm the last guy to talk about making the right choice when you're going down,” Romo said.

Not true. That distinction goes to the guy who comes to Texas Stadium on Thursday night for the NFC game of the year.

Brett Favre.

Dallas-Green Bay. This is going to be fun. In a league of robotic quarterbacks, a league where Tom Brady and Peyton Manning make one mistake a month, here comes Favre, the old gunslinger, and Romo, his protégé, quarterbacking the way Jerry Lee Lewis played the piano. The way Tony Stewart drives a car.

Romo is the new Favre. Quarterbacks who play the way we all did in the backyard. Quarterbacks who don't stay between the lines.

You Dallas fans, think back three games ago, at the Meadowlands against the Giants. Dallas touchdown No. 1 came off a Romo scramble, when he appeared ready to cross the line of scrimmage and take a slide, but at the last moment shot-putted a pass to Tony Curtis for a 15-yard touchdown.

Closest thing to a screwball I've seen on the gridiron. And pure Favre, who has quarterbacked his way into NFL lore and Wisconsin hearts with unconventional tactics. Favre has thrown 436 touchdown passes, some of them underhanded, many of them sidearmed and more than a few falling on his back.

Now comes Romo, Elisha to Favre's Elijah, quarterbacking the same way, throwing more than his share of dubious passes, but taking over a storied franchise.

Remember the Buffalo game in October. Romo threw four first-half interceptions and five overall but rallied the Cowboys to a most improbable victory. Pure Favre.

These guys play with a joy not seen in the button-down world of quarterbacks. How many times have we seen Favre, after a crucial touchdown pass, sprint all over the field with his arms raised, sometimes running backwards?

Now we see Romo furiously stepping onto the field, directing his defense as it sets up for a Hail Mary pass in the final seconds against the 'Skins.

Then after the game comes a boyish charm that makes you think for a second that these guys really haven't figured out they're still not on the sandlots of Burlington, Wisc., or Kiln, Miss.

Favre has taken the Packers on a wild adventure. Sixteen years he's quarterbacked Green Bay, to a Super Bowl title and two NFC championships and a thousand thrills. Over 60,000 yards and 719 combined interceptions or sacks, which ought to be a record if it's not.

Now here's Romo in year No. 2 of what already has been a rollercoaster ride. The hot October of 2006, the playoff push last December, the muffed hold in Seattle, the 10-1start in 2007.

And before Romo assumes the mantle of America's favorite quarterback, he takes the field against the old war horse from whom he well learned.

This is Dallas-Green Bay, two 10-1 teams, but homefield advantage and the Super Bowl's inside track take a back seat Thursday night to the quarterbacks.

Favre-Romo. This is going to be fun.

It's all about respect

By Jaime Aron
The Associated Press

IRVING - Terrell Owens is part jokester, part self-promoter, traits that should be remembered when you hear some of his recent comments.
You know, wacky things like possibly going into the Hall of Fame while still playing and being able to take over games a la Michael Jordan.

Yet when the topic becomes Ray Sherman, T.O. gets serious.

Sherman is in his first year as receivers coach of the Cowboys, which means he is Owens' immediate boss. But the longtime NFL assistant has become more than that.

To Owens, Sherman is a source of advice and inspiration, a sounding board for problems in football and in life. And, most of all, a friend.

"It's just respect, him allowing me to be who I am, and I respect who he is," Owens said. "I want to be the best in whatever I can to help this team win. That's all I ever wanted. I feel like I'm in a situation that's showing that."

Shocked? Don't be. Owens has bonded with position coaches before, happily sharing their names: David Culley, George Stewart, Larry Kirksey. It's just that T.O. being T.O., he gets far more headlines when he gets crosswise with coaches, a list that includes Greg Knapp, Brad Childress and Todd Haley, who was Dallas' receivers coach last year.

According to Owens, Haley decided the wideout was trouble before they met and treated him as such, never listening to Owens' midweek suggestions about the game plan or in-game ideas about adjustments. Whether that was truly the case doesn't matter. Owens thought so, and the bad vibes manifested.

There were fines for being late to work, disclosure of a medical condition that causes him to fall asleep in meetings, and angry talk of a "snitch" in the organization. Owens also had a league-leading drop total that at times overshadowed his league-leading TD total. Last season also featured his accidental overdose.

Haley left to become the offensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals in late January. A few weeks later, Wade Phillips replaced Bill Parcells as head coach of the Cowboys, then hired Sherman.

This is Sherman's ninth NFL team and his 20th straight season, so he's worked with a lot of receivers, including Jerry Rice, Cris Carter and Randy Moss. Along the way, Sherman has learned never to judge a player by his public perception.

"I don't know what was said to a young man for him to act a certain way. I only know how I treat them and work with them, so that's what I go on," Sherman said.

Sherman and Haley are as opposite as Phillips and Parcells, which means he's a kinder, gentler type. He speaks to Owens instead of yelling at him, the cussing left out. The angry, in-your-face style might work with some players, but Owens isn't among them.

"I'm very fortunate for Ray," Owens said. "He's done a great job here, not only with me but the other guys, as well. We joke around and have a lot of fun, but it's business and he treats us like men."

Despite his soft side, Sherman can be tough and demanding. However, because Owens trusts him, he embraces being coached. A sideline microphone recently picked up Owens telling Sherman to keep pushing him hard.

"I stay on him," Sherman said. "I'm not going to let him slide and let him get away with things."

Owens already has tied last year's TD total with 13, along with 64 catches and 1,093 yards. He's moved into the career top 10 in all three categories, and leads the conference in yards and TDs. His drops are way down, too.

"I'm always looking for a coach to point out my weaknesses to make me better," Owens said. "I want them to coach me to be the best. I don't feel that I am the best, but I have the talent and the potential to do so."

FWST Blog: Tension In The Locker Room

Loosey, Goosey Cowboys

The Cowboys are three days away from their biggest game of the season and the tension was thick in the locker room Monday that you could cut it with a knife.

How about not.

You would think Thursday’s 10-1 showdown against the Packers for homefield advantage in the NFC playoffs was just another game for the loose and fun loving Cowboys.

After being playfully slapped by nose tackle Jay Ratliff, linebacker Kevin Burnett put shaving cream in Ratliff’s shoes. Ratliff returned the favor by putting shaving cream all over Burnett’s locker, on his clothes and in his helmet.

Burnett just laughed it off, saying “I expected what he did. What I did was a surprise. I am the originator. I’m just going to wipe this helmet out and go the practice. The rest of the stuff can washed.”

Meanwhile on the otherside of the lockeroom, linebacker Akin Ayodele had his video camera out and recorded the media while he was being interviewed.

And then when the Cowboys went out to the practice field. Coach Wade Phillips walked over to the media and said: “That guy has a pretty good arm” ( in reference to his son, assistant coach Wes Phillips who was throwing passes with quarterback Tony Romo).”

“That Romo guy is pretty good too,” Phillips added with a grin.

Of course Romo got into the act at practice by doing his now infamous imitation of Packers quarterback Brett Favre pigeon-toed gait.

Clarence E. Hill Jr.

Posted at 03:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Week 13 Matchup: Packers at Cowboys

Thursday, 8:15 p.m. ET (NFL ), Texas Stadium

The Edge
Quarterback: Advantage Packers
Running backs: Advantage Cowboys
Receivers: Advantage Packers
Offensive line: Advantage Packers
Defensive line: Advantage Cowboys
Linebackers: Advantage Cowboys
Secondary: Advantage Packers
Pass rushers: Advantage Packers
Special teams: Advantage Cowboys
Depth: Advantage Cowboys
Coaching: Advantage Packers

Prediction Packers 27 at Cowboys 28

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War Room scouts break down every NFL game. Here is a excerpt of their Packers-Cowboys matchup:

Packers Keys For Success

1. Pressure Tony Romo without blitzing. The Packers are a good defensive team because of their ability to pressure quarterbacks. Romo is having a great season (29 touchdowns, 13 interceptions), so the Packers must make him uncomfortable Thursday night. The Packers rank third in the NFL with 32 sacks, and end Aaron Kampman leads the league with 11 sacks. Kampman never stops hustling and must disrupt Romo's rhythm throughout the game. Cullen Jenkins, who shares the other end position with pass-rush specialist Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, must have a greater impact this week because of the uncertain health of Gbaja-Biamila (ankle, knee).

2. Maintain balance on offense. Green Bay will need more than just a great passing attack to win at Dallas. The Packers must establish Ryan Grant and use more of a ball-control game plan. It would be wise to limit the number of possessions for the Cowboys' high-powered offense. A balanced attack also would help keep the Packers' banged-up defense -- cornerback Charles Woodson (toe), safety Aaron Rouse (knee), safety Nick Collins (knee) in addition to Gbaja-Biamila -- rested. The more carries Grant receives, the less the Cowboys will be able to focus solely on rushing Brett Favre and defending the pass.

3. Protect Favre. The Cowboys are sure to attack Favre. Outside linebackers DeMarcus Ware and Greg Ellis are primary concerns, but ends Marcus Spears and Chris Canty also are pass-rush threats. The Packers have protected Favre well this season, and he has responded by completing 68.5 percent of his passes with 22 touchdowns and only eight interceptions. The more pressure the Cowboys' put on Favre, the more likely he is to rush a throw and/or make a poor decision. The Green Bay offensive line has a tough task Thursday night in trying to contain the Cowboys' tenacious pass rush.

Cowboys Keys For Success

1. Jam the Packers' wide receivers. The Cowboys must be aggressive to control the Packers' high-powered passing game. Packers coaches prefer to use Favre on three-step drops to his those quick slants. Dallas cornerbacks Terence Newman and Jacques Reeves should play press coverage on the Packers' talented but young receivers. Favre wants to throw quickly, so the cornerbacks should line up on the inside shoulder of the receivers and play physical bump-and-run coverage. The jams should alter Green Bay's attack and give the Cowboys' talented pass rush time to reach Favre.

2. Throw over the middle. Romo should throw more often to tight end Jason Witten and wide receiver Terrell Owens over the middle. Witten is one of the NFL's best tight ends and is a mismatch against any Packers linebacker. Witten's role Thursday night gets bigger should wide receiver Patrick Crayton (ankle) not be able to play. Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett should call plays for Owens over the middle, too. Green Bay cornerbacks Al Harris and Woodson are tough. Woodson is nursing a toe injury, and his status is uncertain. Owens can utilize his big frame and excellent hands by running crossing routes on third downs to move the chains.

3. Throw on first down. Green Bay is sure to attack Romo. The Packers, too, are strong against the run. Garrett should use short passes on first and second downs to force the Packers' defensive linemen to be honest and to constantly watch for screen passes. Dallas running backs Marion Barber III and Julius Jones are both capable receivers and excellent open-field runners. The strength of the Packers' defense is its ability to play as a unit and to fly to the ball. The short passing game could create situations where Barber or Jones is isolated on a linebacker in the open field.

NFL Point Spreads For Week 13

Week Thirteen NFL Football Spread

Date & Time Favorite Spread Underdog
11/29 8:15 ET At Dallas -7 Green Bay
12/2 1:00 ET At St. Louis -4.5 Atlanta
12/2 1:00 ET At Washington -5.5 Buffalo
12/2 1:00 ET At Minnesota -3 Detroit
12/2 1:00 ET At Tennessee -4 Houston
12/2 1:00 ET At Indianapolis -7 Jacksonville
12/2 1:00 ET At Miami -2 NY Jets
12/2 1:00 ET San Diego -4.5 At Kansas City
12/2 1:00 ET At Philadelphia -3 Seattle
12/2 1:00 ET At Carolina -3 San Francisco
12/2 4:15 ET At New Orleans -3 Tampa Bay
12/2 4:05 ET At Arizona -1.5 Cleveland
12/2 4:05 ET Denver -3 At Oakland
12/2 4:15 ET NY Giants -2 At Chicago
12/2 8:15 ET At Pittsburgh -8.5 Cincinnati

Monday Night Football Point Spread

12/3 8:30 ET New England -20.5 At Baltimore

Pro football: Packers secondary may take a hit vs. Cowboys

Tom Orsborn
Express-News Staff Writer

Charles Woodson's right toe injury could put a crimp in the Green Bay Packers' plans to turn Thursday's showdown with the Dallas Cowboys into a major jam session. That's jam as in what Woodson and fellow corner Al Harris like to do to receivers at the line of scrimmage.

"They are going to play man to man," Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said. "They are going to test you man to man. They are going to bump you and grab you and do all those things on the line of scrimmage that they can do to try and throw off your timing. They do a great job of that."

Woodson, who sustained the injury while returning a punt in the Packers' 37-26 Thanksgiving Day victory over Detroit, did not practice Sunday.

Two other Green Bay starters — right tackle Mark Tauscher (ankle) and defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (ankle) — also missed the workout.

The status for the three is uncertain. Packers coach Mike McCarthy did not address injuries while speaking with the media.

Only one Dallas starter was held out. Phillips said receiver Patrick Crayton, who missed the 34-3 Thanksgiving Day pounding of the New York Jets with a sprained left ankle, may practice today.

"He wasn't ready," Phillips said.

The Packers play man coverage because Woodson and Harris are big, physical defenders who excel at the strategy.

Woodson has a team-high four interceptions, including one he returned for a touchdown.

Harris, who played at Texas A&M-Kingsville, hasn't missed a game since the start of the 1998 season and is one of the league's most physical defensive backs.

"We have faced people who have played man to man," Phillips said. "But I don't know whether we have faced two really good corners like that."

The Cowboys receivers will work with their position coach, Ray Sherman, on techniques to aid them in slipping off the line cleanly.

"That is what Ray Sherman works on all the time," Phillips said. "We have some good receivers. Some of our guys are hard to bump."

That's especially true of the 6-foot-3, 218-pound Terrell Owens, whose size and speed often give him the upper hand in one-on-one situations.

Both of Owens' TD receptions in the 31-20 victory over the New York Giants on Nov. 12 came on plays in which defenders tried to jam him while in man coverage.

"I've faced both of those guys (Woodson and Harris) before," Owens said. "I know what to expect, so I'm going to plan accordingly."

Notebook: Packers quarterback Brett Favre says there's a simple explanation for why he's 0-8 at Texas Stadium. "Every time we played, for the most part, they've had a damn good football team," Favre said via conference call. "Most of the times we lost down there, it was in the playoffs. Good thing was they went on to win the Super Bowl (in two of those seasons). We hope that's different this year. I know they're playing as well as they were back then." ... The Cowboys and Packers sit atop the NFC with 10-1 records. Many NFL analysts believe the winner of Thursday's clash will advance to the Super Bowl. ... Dallas won Super Bowls in 1993 and 1995 after beating Green Bay in the divisional round and the NFC Championship game, respectively. The Cowboys also beat the Packers in the divisional round in 1994 but lost the next week to San Francisco in the conference title game.

Grant runs through Cowboys' minds

Posted: Nov. 25, 2007

The Dallas Cowboys' starting linebacker was not prepared to see Ryan Grant chewing up considerable chunks of real estate.

"He's good, man," James said Sunday. "I just didn't know. I had no idea how well he was running the ball. When I watched film today, I was like, 'Wow, this guy is actually a good running back.' He's one of the better running backs that we face."

It's no knock on Grant that James didn't know much about him. Over the first six games, Grant carried the ball only six times for 27 yards. In the five games since, however, he's rushed for 467 yards in 101 carries.

"He's good in their philosophy of what they're trying to do," said James, who leads the Cowboys with 69 tackles. "He can run inside and outside. With that offense, they try to spread everyone out, so no (defender) is really coming downhill. The next thing you know, Grant is right there on you."

It's not as though Grant has changed the Packers' identity on offense. Green Bay still employs multiple-receiver sets in almost any down-and-distance situation and Favre is averaging more passing yards over the last five games (328.1) than he did over the first six (285.6).

Cowboys coach Wade Phillips scoffed at the notion that the Packers were not a "complete team" before Grant took over as the No. 1 back.

"They were pretty complete before that," he said. "Sure, it gives you more options and opportunities. Now that they're starting to run the ball better I'm sure they feel like it helps them. But they were winning a lot of games without doing that. It's just another addition to their arsenal."

Protecting their turf: The game Thursday could go a long way toward determining home-field advantage for the playoffs. And the last place the Cowboys want to be in January is Lambeau Field.

"I've played up there when it's really cold," said wide receiver Terrell Owens, "and it's not a place you really want to play."

Nate Newton, a guard for the Cowboys from 1986 to '98, shared his Lambeau Field horror stories with some of the current players.

"Nate was talking about it the other day," James said. "He said they turn off all the heat (on the sideline). Nobody has no fire, no nothing. The field is frozen. They turn the air conditioning on up there.

"He said, 'You don't really want to go up there.' "

Protecting their QB: The Cowboys' offensive line has done a good job protecting quarterback Tony Romo, having allowed only 16 sacks (1.45 per game).

Phillips said he was confident tackles Marc Colombo and Flozell Adams would hold their own against Packers defensive ends Aaron Kampman (11 sacks) and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila (9.5).

"I think our offensive line has done pretty well against everybody and I think both tackles have had some really good rushers against them and have met the challenge," Phillips said. "But it is a challenge this week. They've got two great outside rushers and they can give a push in the middle, too.

" 'KGB' and Kampman are really good. They make big plays. It will be a challenge, but we feel like we can hold up."

Tabloid fodder? Romo met with reporters for 15 minutes at his locker Sunday and 90% of the questions were Favre-related.

How well does Romo know Favre? Did he idolize Favre while growing up in Burlington, Wis.?
Does he try to emulate Favre? Has he spent much time with Favre?

Romo finally tired of the subject and playfully said, "Yeah, we dine together every week."

One of the reporters shot back, "Oh, so that's who you're dating now?"

That got a huge laugh, even from Romo, who has dated Carrie Underwood and whose social calendar is a hot topic in Dallas.

DMN: Rick Gosselin's ranking: Cowboys No. 3

11:42 PM CST on Sunday, November 25, 2007

Flip a coin between Green Bay and Dallas for No. 2. The Packers moved into the No. 2 spot last week, so I'll let them stay there another week. The rightful holder of the No. 2 rank will be decided on the field Thursday night when the Packers visit the Cowboys. The winner is likely to earn home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs. The Cowboys do not want to play in Green Bay in January – nor do the Packers want to return to Dallas. This will be the highest-stakes game played in the NFC this season.

Crayton Practices; Says He's Ready To Play Thursday

Nick Eatman - Email Staff Writer
November 26, 2007 2:08 PM

IRVING, Texas - Cowboys wide receiver Patrick Crayton told reporters on Monday that he is "good to go" for Thursday's big game with the Packers at Texas Stadium.

Crayton missed the Thanksgiving Day game with the Jets because of a sprained left ankle he suffered just four days earlier against the Redskins.

But he returned to practice on Monday after missing both practices leading up to the Jets game.

"Patrick returned to practiced today," Phillips said on Monday. "He started out a little slow but he got better. It looks real positive for him (to play Thursday)."

Crayton said the added rest has been beneficial for the injury.

"It needed that time," Crayton said.

The Cowboys will need all of their weapons for Thursday's match-up with the Packers, who have two veteran corners in Al Harris and Charles Woodson. With Crayton out last week, the Cowboys started Sam Hurd but also used Miles Austin in the three-receiver sets. Austin recorded his first two catches of his career, totaling 30 yards.

But Crayton is more than just the second receiver. He has been the regular punt return specialist this season and even serves as the emergency third quarterback.

Roy Reaches Out To Redskins' Taylor

Rob Phillips - Email Staff Writer
November 26, 2007 6:56 PM

IRVING, Texas - Cowboys strong safety Roy Williams and the Washington Redskins' Sean Taylor are considered by many the NFL's two hardest-hitting safeties. They might be NFC East rivals, but Williams became friends with Taylor when the two represented their conference in the Pro Bowl.

Williams was saddened Monday afternoon to hear reports of Taylor listed in critical condition following surgery for a gunshot wound to his upper leg suffered early that morning at his Miami home.

According to published reports, police are investigating the incident as a possible armed robbery.

"It's tragic," Williams said. "We're friends, we're associates. I know him. It's just sad that it happened to him. He's a good dude. I got to meet with him and hang out with him at the Pro Bowl. I hope him the best, and his family."

Cowboys Mailbag: In chat with reporters, Favre right about one thing, wrong about another

Tom Orsborn
San Antonio Express-News

Brett Favre's conference-call interview Sunday was easily the most entertaining of the season.
In a lively, lengthy session with reporters who cover the Cowboys, the Green Bay quarterback answered every question in what seemed a forthright manner, including one about whether he's having an MVP-caliber season.

"I think I'm playing as good of football as I've ever played up to this point," the three-time MVP said. "But I've never seen numbers like what Tom Brady's putting up, most important being that he's undefeated. And I've told people this all year, especially with every week that passes, I think the only one who beats the Patriots is the Patriots themselves, and I don't foresee that happening. I may be wrong, but I think their play across the board – offense, defense, special teams – really has no flaw.

"On top of that, I think Tom's play now, is as good as anybody who's ever played the game. So with that in mind, I need to be MVP. No, I think I'm playing well, my game totally, but Tom, it's just unbelievable."

I agree with Favre about Brady being the MVP, but we part ways when it comes to the Patriots being unstoppable. The Eagles proved Sunday night that a team that pressures Brady and slows down Randy Moss has more than a chance to knock them off. And the Cowboys would be capable of doing both in a Super Bowl rematch.

The one thing Philadelphia didn't have was someone to check Wes Welker in the slot. Welker torched the Eagles for 13 catches and 149 yards in a performance similar to his 11-catch, 124-yard, two-touchdown outing in New England's 48-27 victory over Dallas on Oct. 14.
With Anthony Henry inactive for that game, the Cowboys were unable to put Terence Newman on Welker in the slot. In a Super Bowl rematch, Newman would draw Welker, get in his face and prevent him from going wild.

But first things first: Dallas needs to beat Favre and Green Bay on Thursday night for the inside track to gain home-field advantage. Without it, the Cowboys can forget about meeting New England in Arizona.

Now on to this week's mail:

You said in your Cowboys Insider last week that the Cowboys need to draft a receiver. What other positions do you think are high on their list of needs?
-- J.R. Routh, Uvalde, Texas

Receiver and cornerback are running neck and neck. Jacques Reeves has done a solid job filling in first for Terence Newman and then Anthony Henry, but I think the Cowboys can do better. Same goes for Nate Jones, the No. 4 corner.

What is the main reason why Brett Favre is 0-8 at Texas Stadium and do you think that will affect him Thursday night?
-- Rob McPeak, Richmond, Va.

Favre said it best in his conference call Sunday: "Every time we played, for the most part, they've had a damn good football team." Those previous outings won't hurt him as much as edge rushers DeMarcus Ware and Greg Ellis will, especially if Ellis is going up against a backup right tackle.

Do you think Bill Parcells looks at this team with some ambivalence because he found and assembled much of the talent but also hears criticism from some of the players about his coaching style?
-- Steve Strassman, Heathrow, Fla.

Knowing Parcells, he probably feels a great deal of pride, and he should. His fingerprints are all over this team, especially when it comes to the core of Tony Romo, Jason Witten, Newman and Ware. By the way, two of those who grumbled about Parcells holding them back – Julius Jones and Marcus Spears - haven't improved much under Wade Phillips.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

DMN Blog: Romo Reminds Favre of Favre

Brett Favre made it clear that Tony Romo is his own player, but Romo sure does remind Favre of a certain No. 4.

"I think in a nutshell his creativity with his legs is what, when I see him play, reminds me of myself," Favre said. "It's making something out of nothing. He moves around. He’s not going to rush for 500 yards. I guess he could; he’s much faster than I ever was. Or he seems that way.

"But his creativity to bail himself out is very good. It's probably the same mentality I had. There is never a bad play, which can get you in trouble sometimes. For the most part, it’s worked out for him."

Favre raved about Romo's ridiculous 4-yard scramble after a snap sailed over his head against the Rams. He said that play symbolized Romo's ability to think out of the box while on the run, something Favre has done as well as anybody in NFL history.

But Romo's freelancing style isn't his only similarity to Favre. There's also the gosh-ain't-this-fun swagger.

"He’s always smiling," Favre said. "I think that goes hand in hand with winning and being a leader and saying the right things and doing the right things. All of that he does well on top of playing well on Sundays.

"The guy, barring some injury, could have a great career."

Posted by Tim MacMahon at 4:24 PM (E-mail this entry) Permalink | Comments (0)

Stakes are high, clear for Dallas Cowboys

by Tim Cowlishaw
Dallas Morning News

Packers game will give winner inside track to home-field advantage

Because of two stunning Cowboys failures, the franchise is set to play its biggest regular-season game in 24 years.

Yes, failures.

I never would have believed the Cowboys could get to 10-1 for their first time ever and still:

One, fail to even get a mention as possibly the best team in the NFL.

Two, fail to even have an edge in the NFC for home-field advantage.

As for the first, well, the New England Patriots aren't allowing us to have a discussion except for whether they are the greatest team ever, and right now they are winning that one, too.

As for the latter, well, that's what Thursday's huge game is all about.

Not since 1983 have the Cowboys played a game with this kind of significance.

It was 24 years ago that both Dallas and Washington stood at 12-2. With the Redskins coming to Texas Stadium, the winner was going to lock up home-field advantage for the NFC playoffs.
There was even a story in The Dallas Morning News that week about a man advertising tickets on the 40-yard line "for $500 each."

That's back when a thousand dollars for two regular-season seats still seemed like a big chunk of change. Pretty soon you will be able to buy three seats on the 40 for about just over $1,000 a game (uh, not counting the $150,000 you will have shelled out for your personal seat licenses).

Longtime Cowboys fans will recall that was the infamous "No, Danny, no" game. With the Redskins leading 14-10 in the third quarter and the ball at midfield, coach Tom Landry wanted White to try to draw the Redskins offside on a fourth-and-1. If it didn't work, the Cowboys would punt the ball deep into Washington territory.

But White audibled to a running play. Ron Springs was thrown for a 1-yard loss. CBS' cameras caught Landry wincing and shouting, "No, Danny, no," as the failed play unfolded. Washington rolled to a 31-10 victory and a trip to the Super Bowl. The Cowboys went from 12-2 to 12-5, and their season was over.

That's what Thursday night at Texas Stadium is all about.

In 1993 and 1994, Dallas met San Francisco in regular-season games before their NFC title clashes. But the games were never so late in the season with the stakes so clearly defined.

How big is home-field advantage?

In the NFC, it tends to be huge.

Ten of the last 14 years, the team with the best record in the NFC went on to the Super Bowl.

That's what Thursday night at Texas Stadium is all about.

"I think it's always an advantage when you can play at home," coach Wade Phillips said Friday. "It was a big advantage for Green Bay until we went up there with Atlanta and beat them [in 2002]."
That was the Packers' first playoff loss ever in Lambeau Field. Come January on the frozen tundra, the Packers tend to get the job done.

That's what Thursday night at Texas Stadium is all about.

Phillips was a bit dismissive of the Packers' running game when the subject of a championship rematch in Green Bay was raised.

"If it's bad weather and they can't throw and they gotta go with their running game, that wouldn't be too bad," he said.

While Brett Favre is clearly the key to the offense, running back Ryan Grant has averaged 93 yards rushing and a 4.6 average per carry in his five starts. The balance he has brought to the offense has elevated Green Bay's play to Dallas' level.

Quarterback Tony Romo talked about the winner leaving with essentially a two-game lead. If Green Bay wins, Dallas would need a perfect December and hope the Packers lose twice in order to regain the home-field edge.

Same goes for Green Bay if Dallas wins.

Much like the unbeaten Patriots are dismissing the relevance of 31 other teams, Green Bay and Dallas have barred the rest of the NFC from any kind of home-field thoughts. The Giants are closest, and they trail both teams by 2½ games, and the deficit is really more than that since they lost to the Packers and were swept by the Cowboys.

So, just as it was four decades ago, when the Cowboys first tasted success, it's going to come down to Green Bay and Dallas.

For sure this Thursday.

Quite possibly again on Jan. 20.

That's what Thursday's game at Texas Stadium is all about.

Cowboys fans can only hope that at some key point we don't see Phillips shouting, "No, Tony, no."

Dallas Cowboys' long snapper Ladouceur seeks perfection every time

By: DaveTroll
CP Staff Writer/Analyst/Blogger

Todd Archer
Dallas Morning News

IRVING – Growing up in Montreal, L.P. Ladouceur dreamt of being Mats Naslund or Guy Carbonneau and playing for the Canadiens, not the Cowboys' long snapper.

"But I always liked football," said Ladouceur, with a hint of an accent. "For me growing up, my first experience with football was the Buffalo Bills. My family was big Marv Levy fans. He coached the Alouettes in the '80s, and he won a Grey Cup, so people kept up with Buffalo. I played defensive end, and Bruce Smith was my guy. I really liked watching him play."

But Ladouceur knew he would not make his living as a pass rusher in the NFL, although he did record a sack and a forced fumble in the 2005 preseason with the New Orleans Saints. For Ladouceur to make it in the NFL, it would have to be as a long snapper.

That the Cowboys found him was somewhat fortuitous.

Jon Condo was the Cowboys' long snapper for the first three games of the 2005 season after winning the job in training camp. Once the games turned real, Condo developed a case of the "yips," and Bill Parcells decided he had had enough.

Fortunately, the Cowboys did not have to look far for Condo's replacement.
Facing back-to-back road games against San Francisco and Oakland, the Cowboys decided to spend the week in San Jose for practice. It turned out to be a good thing. Ladouceur, who was cut by New Orleans in training camp, was back at Cal Berkeley, where he went to college. It was only a short drive to San Jose State for a workout with the Cowboys.

"I probably had 10 snaps, 15 snaps, that was it," Ladouceur said. "Right on the spot, they signed me."

Former Cowboys special teams coach Bruce DeHaven made some pre-practice introductions that Wednesday, and Ladouceur has been a staple of the Cowboys' special teams since.

"It's the only job in the NFL that perfection is needed," Ladouceur said. "That's the only one because you want to give a chance to your punter to get the ball off and your kicker to get the kick off. If you don't give them a chance, you don't have a chance."

Mat McBriar said Ladouceur's consistency has helped him become a Pro Bowl punter because he knows the snap is going to be close to perfect every time. Rookie kicker Nick Folk said he does not have to worry about the timing of a field goal attempt.

"There's an art to that position," holder Brad Johnson said. "A lot of teams just keep a tight end to snap. A lot of games are lost at that position. There are two things [Ladouceur] does that are special: It's a catchable ball. Some guys snap it too hard. And he gets the laces almost perfect every time so you don't have to twist the ball."

Ladouceur started snapping in high school in Montreal, but he did not become the full-time snapper at Cal Berkeley until his senior year. He snapped for punts as a junior and added field goals as a senior.

"It's a very similar motion, I think, to throwing a soccer ball," Ladouceur said. "I played soccer, so I just put my two hands on it and it's the same motion as when you're below, I guess. I've gotten better at it with the years."

Ladouceur's so good that his job often goes without notice, which is OK with him.

"We notice it," coach Wade Phillips said. "With all those plays, it's certainly very important to get a good snap. He's the only player that doesn't make any mistakes and can't afford to make any, really. That's hard to do in this game."

Dallas Cowboys cornerback Terence Newman at full strength, making big plays

By Jaime Aron, AP Sports Writer

IRVING, Texas — Terence Newman came into the NFL with sprinter's speed, the kind that can produce regular appearances on highlight reels.

Yet in his fifth season as a cornerback and occasional punt returner for the Dallas Cowboys, Newman has rarely provided the must-see clips of, say, Deion Sanders. Newman was more of a reliable guy, the kind that quarterbacks choose not to challenge if they can help it.

Without many chances to show his skills, and without any TDs on the chances he did have, Newman developed sort of a niche profile. He's valued by the Cowboys and their fans, but not so recognizable to the masses - until the last two games.

Newman thwarted a potential go-ahead touchdown drive for Washington with an interception at the 12-yard line with 1:39 left last Sunday, then helped Dallas bury the New York Jets on Thanksgiving with an interception that he returned 50 yards for a touchdown.

Finally, in his 73rd career game, Newman had the first defensive TD of his career.

"It was just an opportunity to make a play. I had to capitalize on it," he said. "I finally took a chance and jumped one, and it paid off."

Newman has been a mainstay on Dallas' defense since arriving in 2003 as the first pick of the Bill Parcells era. He further endeared himself to the coach with his dedication to his job, especially offseason training. He's considered among the team's strongest players.

Still, it's his incredible speed that creates opportunities. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was thrilled to see him take off and not get caught against the Jets.

"It's just a little reminder - we saw it with Deion - that when the offensive coordinators we face in the future realize (No.) 41 is over there, they start hedging a little bit, going the other way from him," Jones said. "When those kind of things start happening, that gives our defense another advantage. That's the kind of impact guy he is."

Cowboys fans have wondered for several years why Newman has never made the Pro Bowl. He might get his first trip to Hawaii this year because he's among the marquee players on a team that's 10-1 and tied for the best record in the NFC.

He could really improve his chances with a big game Thursday night, against Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers (10-1).

Dallas' secondary has been considered the weak link, in part because Newman and projected starter Anthony Henry have rarely been in the lineup together.

Newman was slowed early by a tear in the plantar fascia at the base of his foot, then had to deal with tendinitis in a knee. He missed the first two games, then came off the bench in the next two. He's started ever since, partly because Henry was lost to a high ankle sprain in Newman's second game back. The Cowboys have brought him back slowly, a luxury Newman didn't have.

"I just think I'm getting a little more confident dealing with the injuries," Newman said. "I've been out playing and practicing, so I know what threshold I have, what tolerance I can take."

Newman's first interception of the season came in his first start, on a Monday night against Buffalo. When he broke into the open, he seemed headed then to his first career TD.

Newman went a career-best 70 yards, but it wasn't enough. He got caught from behind by Bills receiver Lee Evans. Yes, the three-time Big 12 sprint champion was caught from behind, partly because of Evans' speed but mostly because Newman still wasn't at full speed.

When Newman snagged the pass intended for Jerricho Cotchery of the Jets on Thursday, no one came even close to catching him.

"He's back," defensive captain Bradie James said. "It definitely helps. It's potential impact for a big play any time a team is throwing the ball."

Saturday, November 24, 2007

DMN Blog: Romo vs. Young Favre

I was curious how Tony Romo's start as a starter compared to the beginning of Brett Favre's Hall of Fame career, so I looked it up. Here's the stats from the first 21 starts of Favre's and Romo's careers:


419-of-664 (63.1 percent), 4,416 yards, 27 TD, 25 INT. Record: 12-9.


437-of-662 (66.0 percent), 5,684 yards, 45 TD, 23 INT. Record: 16-5.

Of course, this doesn't mean that Romo will break all the records Favre is setting, but it puts in perspective just how good he's been.

It's worth noting that Favre sat on Atlanta's bench for one season and was Green Bay's backup for three games, while Romo watched and learned for 3 1/2 seasons in Dallas before becoming the starter.

You could argue that Romo has been surrounded by better talent, but Favre's early targets were awfully good, too. Sterling Sharpe was an elite receiver, and Jackie Harris was an excellent pass-catching tight end.

Posted by Tim MacMahon at 1:16 PM

Cris Carter says Roy Williams should stay at safety

"I'm a Dallas Cowboys fan and I read a lot of blogs and everyone and their momma wonders why the 'Boys leave Roy Williams in the secondary? Are the coaches seeing what the fans are seeing? He gets exposed week in and week out … why don't they use him at linebacker since he plays the run better than anything else he does? He will be the reason we lose a game in the playoffs."

Washington, D.C.

The position he's playing right now is his most effective position. Yes, he gets victimized in the passing game – and that's not good – but he is still a solid safety all around. You have to understand, it takes a lot of qualities to play linebacker – quickness, tackling ability and sheer force – so you just can't take someone from another position and think they could all of a sudden handle that role. Williams has been playing safety for quite some time and it would be disastrous to move him to linebacker.

Cowboys | Phillips discusses R. Williams' snapped starting streak

Sat, 24 Nov 2007 05:15:47 -0800

Mickey Spagnola, of, reports Dallas Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips discussed why the team opened their Week 12 game in a new look with three cornerbacks and two safeties. The new look caused S Roy Williams to get sidelined, snapping a 90-game starting streak. "I didn't even know that. It's really not him not starting. It's really the personnel they had in the game. It had nothing to do with him. He's a starter. Because of the first play, that doesn't make you a non-starter, in my opinion. He played the whole game," Phillips said.

Cowboys | Phillips third coach to start out 10-1 with new team

Sat, 24 Nov 2007 05:16:44 -0800

Mickey Spagnola, of, reports Dallas Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips is the third head coach in the Super Bowl era to start a season 10-1 in his first year with a team. Former San Francisco 49ers head coach Steve Mariucci started 10-1 with the 49ers in 1997 and former Denver Broncos head coach Red Miller started 10-1 in 1977 with the Broncos.

Cowboys | Owens moves up all-time lists

Sat, 24 Nov 2007 05:18:37 -0800

Mickey Spagnola, of, reports Dallas Cowboys WR Terrell Owens moved into ninth place on the NFL's all-time receptions list with 865 catches. He moved into 10th place on the all-time receiving list with 12,808 career yards.

Patriots, Cowboys rocketing toward 500-point club

Scripps Howard News Service
Saturday, November 24, 2007

There are only 10 members in professional football's 500 club. Yes, just 10 teams have played enough pedal-mashed-to-the-floor offense in a season to have scored 500 points since divisional play began in 1933.

And yet, two more are set to join one of the league's more exclusive historic clubs.

The Dallas Cowboys, at 32.5 points a game, are on pace for 520 points this season. They have outscored their opponents by 137 points, are 4-0 in their division, 7-0 in NFC games and have no reasons remaining on the schedule that they won't reach the 500-point mark.

That's one.

And the second? Well, two is a whole different deal this time around.

Because the New England Patriots are averaging 41.1 points per game and are on pace to score an astounding 658 points, which would shatter the current single-season record for points (556, by the 1998 Minnesota Vikings) by 102.

At the moment, the Patriots have no losses, and with wins against Dallas and Indianapolis already in hand, they might not have any challengers, either.

They have piled the points on so high already this season that the Patriots must average only 24.2 per game in their last six to set the league's single-season record.

For those who pursue points, 500 has always been sort of a diamond-studded standard. And of the 10 teams to cross the threshold, Mike Shanahan has called the plays for two of them -- the '94 San Francisco 49ers with 505 points and the '98 Denver Broncos with 501.

"Sure, it's a milestone you shoot for, and you've done a lot if you make it -- it's a good goal," Shanahan said. "You look back in history, and it can be difficult to do. A lot of things have to happen, and you have to make the most of your chances.

"But your offense has done something if you make it to 500."

And while the scoreboard often settles almost any and all arguments each season, the 500 club hasn't always translated into championships.

Of the 10 teams to reach 500 points, only four won the NFL title that year, and that includes the 1961 Houston Oilers, who scored 513 points on the way to the American Football League championship. Those four champions include the '94 49ers and '98 Broncos.

"Beyond the championships, because that's what you really want, what you're working for, but beyond that, I think what I'm most proud of is we ended up with 600 (points) with that 49ers team, with the playoffs added on," Shanahan said.

"That year, we probably didn't play the starters in most of the fourth quarters and even some of the third, in some games."

That 49ers team, with Hall of Famer Steve Young at quarterback, Ricky Watters in the backfield and Jerry Rice on the outside, roared through the postseason, winning games 44-15, 38-28 and 49-26. That gave them a regular season/playoff total of 636 to go with the Lombardi Trophy.

"I think, sometimes, you have to score early if you're going to do it," Shanahan said. "Or be in some close games, because when we got up with either of those teams, we sat down most of the starters."

Arguments over the "best" of anything are usually a mixture of fact and memories, of numbers and romance. But the arguments over the highest-powered offenses often begin with the 500 club.

There is one notable exception, however. The 1950 Los Angeles Rams set 22 league records on the way to 466 points that year. That's 466 points in 12 games. With Norm Van Brocklin and Bob Waterfield at quarterback and Tom Fears at wide receiver, those Rams had five players each score at least seven touchdowns.

They scored at least 40 points six times that season, topped 50 points three times and topped 60 points twice.

However, they lost to the Cleveland Browns in the NFL title game, so all they had accomplished drifted off into the amnesia of second place.

Still, their 38.8 points-per-game average in the regular season is the highest since divisional play began.

The highest, that is, until this year's Patriots started cleaning the rest of the league off the bottoms of their shoes.

The Patriots have all kinds of history waiting for them, including an opportunity for an undefeated season and a chance to put the league's scoring record where the next in line for it might be decades away.

The question will be what they want to do. They are already five games up in their division with six to play. They are two wins ahead of the Colts for home-field advantage in the AFC and have already beaten the Colts head to head.

The Patriots could sit regulars or keep on playing them -- they could back it down or keep right on stacking touchdowns without regard for anyone's feelings or risk of injury.

But, in the end, the point is always points, and it's probably just a question of how many of them the Patriots would like to score.

Pro football: Cowboys, Packers seek home-field advantage

Tom Orsborn
Express-News Staff Writer

IRVING — With a Pro Bowl appearance and 281/2 career sacks already to his credit, it's no stretch to call DeMarcus Ware one of the league's most feared linebackers.
But the third-year player was more lamb than lion when asked about the possibility of the Dallas Cowboys facing the Green Bay Packers on the road in the playoffs.

"Lambeau Field? In January? Oh, my God," Ware said Thursday after the Cowboys dismantled the New York Jets 34-3 to stay deadlocked with the Packers atop the NFC.

The Dallas-Green Bay showdown next week is loaded with rich storylines.

It's Wisconsin native Tony Romo vs. his boyhood idol Brett Favre, who could be making his last appearance at Texas Stadium. It's two of the NFL's most storied franchises meeting 40 years after they clashed in the legendary Ice Bowl. It's flashy, sprawling Dallas vs. blue-collar, tiny Green Bay.

But at the heart of only the second meeting between 10-1 teams since 1970 is this: The winner has the inside track in the race for home-field advantage in the playoffs because it will own the head-to-head tiebreaker.

In other words, the game could determine the conference's Super Bowl representative.

"What this game is about is to get back here in January," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. "It's a big one. There is a difference between playing in Dallas and playing in Green Bay in January."

Dallas is 0-5 at Lambeau. Green Bay is 0-8 at Texas Stadium since it won there in 1989.

Much of Cowboys coach Wade Phillips' news conference Friday was devoted to the topic.

Phillips doesn't fear a January visit to Wisconsin as much as some in the organization because he was Atlanta's defensive coordinator in 2002 when the Falcons handed the Packers' their only postseason loss at Lambeau.

"If it's bad weather up there and they can't throw it and have to go with their running game that wouldn't be too bad," Phillips said in a reference to Green Bay ranking second in the league in pass offense but 30th in rush offense.

"But, yeah, you'd rather play at home. That's the big thing — the crowd, the motivation factor. When a game gets going and the crowd really gets into it, it helps you. The crowd got into yesterday's game. We feel comfortable playing at home. We'd like to do that."

The Packers have the league's youngest roster. Asked whether that would give his team an edge next week Phillips said, "Well, they've got a mature quarterback, though. He handles all the maturity for them."

Favre, the 38-year-old three-time MVP, is 0-8 at Texas Stadium. But he'll journey to Texas coming off one of his best games of the season: a 381-yard, three-touchdown performance in the Packers' 37-26 victory over Detroit on Thursday.

Favre, whose 101.5 passer rating trails only Romo's 105.3 in the NFC, set a team record with 20-straight completions against the Lions.

"Hopefully, he had his best game of the year, because it's hard to put games like that together back to back," Romo said Thursday. "But I expect we'll get the best Brett has to offer next week."

With home-field advantage on the line, why expect anything less?

Notebook: Phillips gave the players Friday and today off. They return to practice Sunday. ... While the Cowboys got out of their Thanksgiving Day game healthy, the Packers weren't so lucky. Cornerback Charles Woodson suffered a toe injury while returning a punt and defensive tackle Colin Cole broke his left forearm. ... The last time two 10-1 teams met was in 1990, when the Joe Montana-led San Francisco 49ers played the Bill Parcells-coached New York Giants.

Barred from television
November 24, 2007

Here's some advice from your friends here at O, by the Way. If you want to watch Thursday's game between the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys, both 10-1, at Texas Stadium, you might want to think about getting yourself to your favorite sports bar.

Even though it's a prime-time game at 8:15 p.m. and the second most hyped game of the season - after the New England Patriots vs. Indianapolis Colts a few weeks back - it won't be carried over the air or on standard cable TV channels in many areas.

The Packer-Cowboys game is one of the NFL Network's games, and, as many fans know, the league and the heavyweights in the cable TV industry have been in a shootin' war over how the NFL Network will be carried.

Those with satellite TV and the NFL Season Ticket package will be able to see the game and the local TV markets - meaning Dallas and Green Bay - will receive the game on over-the-air broadcast channels.

But folks with standard cable or over-the-air in out-of-town markets will mostly be out of luck unless, as we mentioned above, you camp out at a sports bar that has TV service that gets the full schedule of games.

TIDBIT: Cowboys owner urges TV switch

Associated Press
Published: November 24, 2007

IRVING, Texas — Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is still urging NFL fans to pull the plug on cable, especially those who want to see next week's NFC showdown of 10-1 teams on NFL Network.

The Cowboys and Green Bay Packers both won Thanksgiving Day, a week before they play for the outright NFC lead.

The NFL Network has been in a dispute with large cable providers who don't carry the network on a basic tier. The network is available in about 35 million of the nation's more than 111 million homes with televisions.

"I am frustrated that we've got literally several million fans that won't get to see that game because Time Warner won't be carrying it," Jones said in the locker room after the Cowboys' 34-3 victory Thursday over the New York Jets. "I'm hot about that. I hope those fans will go to AT&T satellite or go over to a competing cable company."

Time Warner is the primary cable provider in the Dallas area.

Jones is the outspoken chairman of the league's NFL Network committee. His comments came just three days after Comcast, the nation's largest cable company, sent a cease-and-desist letter to the NFL Network demanding the channel's representatives stop encouraging fans to leave the cable provider.

"I know I have been given a cease and desist to quit saying that, but that is a fact," Jones said. "It's frustrating to think millions of Cowboys and Packers fans won't be able to see it."

Fans in the local markets will be able to see the game. NFL rules require that games televised on cable must be made available to an over-the-air provider in the home market cities.

Burden is On the Cowboys In This Showdown

by David Marcus

Contrary to popular belief, Thursday's upcoming clash between the Cowboys and Packers is not the Super Bowl. It has all the drama of a Super Bowl...all the story lines of a Super Bowl...all the hype of a Super Bowl.

But there will be no obnoxious musical act at million dollar commercials featuring talking four-hour pregame show.

What will there be Thursday night at the 'soon-to-be-closed for good' 'Texas Stadium? The NFC's two best teams, with the conference's two best quarterbacks, fighting it out like wild animals before the nation's eyes. This will be the highest-rated televised NFL game of the'll make the Patriots/Colts game look like a pee wee scrap. Because, if history has taught us anything, it's that the good ole USA loves the Cowboys and Packers. It's like America's Team vs. Hot Dogs and Apple Pie. The young cocky quarterback versus the old man.

I think America is dying to see whether the old dog can teach the young pup some new tricks.

If I'm a Packer fan, I feel pretty darn good about our chances. Tony Romo has played awfully well this season and figures to be a star in this league for years to come, but do you get the uncanny feeling this is Brett's year? That this is Brett's time? Romo has shown that he can sometimes crater to immense pressure (see Seattle last year).

The burden is still on Tony in this game to prove just how far he's come. Brett has no such burden. He's a first ballot Hall of Famer. He has nothing to prove. He's already proven it...and then some. Whatever happens to Brett from here on out is just gravy. And he's loving every minute of it. But Romo still has to prove that he can perform in the biggest game of the year. Until he wins big games like this one, people will still remember his untimely dropped snap in Seattle on that field goal attempt.

Right or wrong.

If you think this game means more to the Packers than the Cowboys, think again. This game is all Dallas fans are talking about. Believe me, I'm listening to the talk radio in my hometown. The Mavericks? Stars? Forget about it. This is the only game in town. Cowboy fans are paying attention.

And trust me....they're worried.

Because they can't take anything for granted when you're facing a legend who's been reborn. A man who doesn't know he's supposed to be at home raking the leaves. A quarterback who's got that look in his eye again.

It's a Super Bowl look. You might see it again in February in Glendale, Arizona.

Cowboys: Beating GB Most Important

By Jay Sorgi

Story Created: Nov 24, 2007

Story Updated: Nov 24, 2007

Next game: Thursday, November 24 at Dallas
Packers Gameday at 4:00 p.m. on Newsradio 620 WTMJ

IRVING, Texas (AP) -- The records keep coming for the Dallas Cowboys, with more in sight. Good ones, too.

Most wins? The record is 13, and this club is already 10-1, itself a record for best start. Dallas would have to finish 2-3 or worse not to get this one.

Most points? The record is 479, and this club has 358. The Cowboys' season low is 24 points, done only once. They'll have to average that or less to fall short of this mark.

Most touchdown passes? With 29, Tony Romo already has surpassed the greatest seasons by Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach and tied the record set by Danny White. Terrell Owens has been on the receiving end of 13 TDs, one shy of matching that record.

As glorious as it all sounds for a franchise with such a proud history, these milestones will be pretty useless if the Cowboys don't win their next game -- at home, Thursday night, against Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers, who happen to also be 10-1.

The winner will have a two-game lead in the chase for home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs with only four games left. Put more bluntly, the upcoming game could determine whether the conference championship is played at Texas Stadium or Lambeau Field.

"I like Texas Stadium better," Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware said.

A late January game in Green Bay wouldn't necessarily doom Dallas' Super Bowl chances. After all, the Cowboys are 5-0 on the road and, as coach Wade Phillips noted Friday, a game in nasty weather would mean fewer passes and more runs, which probably would benefit his club.

Still, there's something to be said about getting to play at home, like Dallas will do in this potential NFC championship preview.

"The thing that excites me is this team always seems like they've been up for a challenge like this," tight end Jason Witten said. "This is why you play, to be in these situations."

The Cowboys are enjoying their most pleasantly surprising season since 1992, when Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin went from up-and-comers to team to beat.

Like the '92 squad, Dallas came into this season expecting to be good, just not so good that it's rattled off a pair of five-game winning streaks around the lone loss, to undefeated New England. Expectations are now flying despite the team having gone 10 straight seasons without winning a playoff game.

"To see those really hard, lean years, and now to be part of the Dallas Cowboys on a positive side, it's a good feeling," said linebacker Greg Ellis, who arrived in 1998, when the postseason drought was only a year old.

Playing before a national audience on Thanksgiving, the Cowboys offered a pretty good primer for folks who haven't been watching with their 34-3 stomping of the New York Jets.

While it was far from their best performance, they were in control from the start and never relented. Romo didn't dominate, but still completed 75 percent of his passes and had two touchdowns. They ran for another score and had their most yards rushing all season. They didn't allow a touchdown for the first time and won by their widest margin.

"The goal is to continue to get better, continue to work," linebacker Bradie James said.

Taking care of business is never as easy as it sounds in the NFL. In this case, Dallas had to get fired up for a 2-8 team on a short week following a win over rival Washington that closed a 3-0 stretch against division foes. And right before the showdown with the Packers.

"We have done that all year," Phillips said. "We have focused at the game at hand, and I think we will continue to do that. We will certainly focus on this one. ... If we play our best, we are going to do well."

A big part of the buildup for this game will be the quarterbacks, Favre vs. the kid who grew up in Wisconsin cheering for No. 4. It can't be a coincidence that Romo's swashbuckling style is a lot like Favre's.

"I just think it's going to be fun," Romo said. "Any time you play in a big game it's enjoyable. The fact it's the Packers is exciting for me."

Dallas and Green Bay will be only the second 10-1 teams to square off since 1970.

The last time it happened was in 1990, when the New York Giants went to San Francisco and lost to the 49ers. They met again at Candlestick Park in the NFC championship game and the Bill Parcells-coached Giants won the rematch. They went on to win the Super Bowl.

Cowboys-Packers is an old-school showdown for NFC supremacy

By TODD ARCHER / The Dallas Morning News

IRVING – History oozes from the Cowboys and Green Bay Packers, from Tom Landry and Vince Lombardi to Roger Staubach and Bart Starr to Bob Lilly and Ray Nitschke to Troy Aikman and Brett Favre.

On Thursday, the teams that brought us the Ice Bowl in 1967 and an NFC Championship Game in 1995 bring us the most meaningful matchup in 21 regular-season meetings.

The Cowboys are 10-1 for the first time in the history of a franchise that has won five Super Bowls. The Packers have been better than 10-1 after 11 games only once, when the only blemish for Curly Lambeau's 1929 team was a 0-0 tie against the Frankford Yellow Jackets.

"People love football, but when you see two organizations with great history, old-school football teams with great records that are going to play each other," linebacker Greg Ellis said after the Cowboys' 34-3 win against the New York Jets on Thanksgiving Day, "that is a great thing."

There are plenty of similarities between the 2007 teams, and it's more than just quarterbacks Tony Romo and Favre, the two top-rated passers in the NFC.

The Cowboys have wide receiver Terrell Owens, who has 64 catches for 1,093 yards. The Packers have wide receiver Donald Driver, who has 63 catches for 832 yards.

The Cowboys have tight end Jason Witten, who has six touchdown catches. The Packers have tight end Donald Lee, who has four touchdown catches.

The Cowboys have pass rushers DeMarcus Ware and Ellis, who have combined for 17 ½ sacks. The Packers have pass rushers Aaron Kampman and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, who have combined for 201/2 sacks.

The Cowboys have a set of excellent cover cornerbacks – when healthy – in Terence Newman and Anthony Henry. The Packers have a set of excellent cover cornerbacks – when healthy – in Charles Woodson and Al Harris.

Both teams even rely on rookie kickers. Green Bay's Mason Crosby leads all NFL kickers with 98 points, followed by the Cowboys' Nick Folk, who has 94.

"We know this next game is, at this point in the season, certainly the biggest game in the NFC so far," Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said, "and we know the challenges, Brett Favre and all those things. But we're looking forward to it."

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, the final five games are about playoff positioning.

The Cowboys have a nearly insurmountable lead in the NFC East, having swept the 7-3 New York Giants. The Packers have an even bigger lead over the 6-5 Lions in the NFC North.

Unless either team has a December collapse, the loser of Thursday's game should still get a first-round bye in the playoffs.

But neither team would like to travel to a potential NFC Championship Game rematch on Jan. 20, despite both teams' success away from home. The Cowboys have won eight consecutive regular-season games away from Texas Stadium, and the Packers have won seven straight road games.

Whoever wins Thursday would essentially have a two-game advantage in the race for home-field advantage in the playoffs with four games to play.

Why is that important?

Green Bay has lost two playoff games at home – Phillips was Atlanta's defensive coordinator in 2002 when the Falcons became the first to leave Lambeau Field with a win – in its history.

Then there's the weather. The average high temperature on Jan. 20 in Green Bay, Wisc., is 24 degrees. The average low is 7. The average high in Irving is 55 degrees, and the low is 36.

"If it's bad weather up there and they can't throw it and they have to go with their running game, that wouldn't be too bad," Phillips said. "But, yeah, you'd rather play at home. That's the big thing. The crowd, the motivation factor."

After Thursday, three of the Cowboys' final four games are away from home. After playing the Cowboys, the Packers have one more game against a team with a winning record – 6-5 Detroit.