Saturday, November 29, 2008

MRIs on injured Cowboys show no ligament damage in Ware's knee, no fracture in Barber's toe

Associated Press

IRVING, Texas - MRI tests on injured Dallas linebacker DeMarcus Ware and running back Marion Barber revealed no significant damage a day after both were injured in the Cowboys' Thanksgiving Day win over Seattle.

An MRI test on Ware's hyper-extended left knee showed no ligament damage Friday. An MRI on Barber's right fifth toe, which was dislocated, revealed no fracture.

Both players will receive treatment throughout the weekend. They will be evaluated daily next week.

Ware had three sacks, taking over the NFL lead with 15, before he sprained his left knee late in the third quarter Thursday.

Barber was hurt late in the first half, went to the locker room, came back after the break, but ran only one more time.

No ligament damage for DeMarcus Ware

Source: The Dallas Morning News

DALLAS - The Cowboys received some good news Friday morning when the results of the MRI exams of linebacker DeMarcus Ware and running back Marion Barber did not reveal any structural damage.

Ware left Thursday's game with a hyperextended left knee in the third quarter. The MRI tests revealed no ligament damage, but there is a bone bruise. Ware said he expects to play in the Cowboys' next game Dec. 7 at Pittsburgh.

Ware leads the NFL with 15 sacks.

Barber departed Thursday's game with a dislocated little toe on his right foot. Barber, who didn't speak to reporters when he left Texas Stadium, doesn't have a fracture.

Team officials listed Ware and Barber as day-to-day in terms of availability to practice. The Cowboys' next practice is Monday.

Rookie Tashard Choice is the only healthy running back on the active roster. He has averaged 4.9 yards on 30 carries.

The team could call up Alonzo Coleman from the practice squad or sign another player.

DMN Blog: Kyle Kosier to injured reserve; LB signed

by Todd Archer

The Cowboys placed left guard Kyle Kosier on injured reserve Saturday and signed linebacker Steve Octavien off Washington's practice squad to fill Kosier's roster spot.

Kosier is likely to have surgery this week in Charlotte, N.C., on his right foot. He played in only three games this season - all wins - after suffering a ligament injury and hairline fracture in his foot in the preseason against Houston.

Kosier missed the first two games of the season before re-injuring his foot in the fourth quarter against Green Bay. He missed the next six games before playing against Washington and San Francisco, but left the Niners' game early.

Kosier joins safety Roy Williams, wide receiver Sam Hurd, punter Felix Jones and running back Felix Jones on injured reserve. Montrae Holland replaced Kosier at left guard Thursday against Seattle.

Octavien, a 6-0, 238-pound rookie, went to training camp with Kansas City before joining the Redskins' practice squad on Nov. 20. He played at Nebraska and had 92 tackles, two sacks, 15 tackles for loss and three pass deflections as a senior.

Now Cowboys have to avoid another December slump

The Associated Press

IRVING — With the return of Tony Romo, the Dallas Cowboys have recovered from a midseason rut that threatened to destroy their entire season.

They have a three-game winning streak, with two impressive victories in a five-day span, and are back near the top of the NFC wild-card standings.

"It's a good momentum builder, and we have to use it just as that," Greg Ellis said. "If you show any signs of satisfaction, then we're going to run into some problems."

Ellis and rest of the Cowboys know the big question going forward: Can they keep it up in December and avoid that seemingly routine late-season swoon?

"Well, December's always been tough," Jason Witten said. "This team understands the challenges and really our backs still being against the wall. ... We've still got a lot to prove."

Dallas (8-4) is still far from guaranteed a postseason spot after a 34-9 romp Thursday over the struggling Seattle Seahawks (2-10). And now the Cowboys turn the calendar to December and beyond with a much tougher schedule.

Since winning its last playoff game during the 1996 season, Dallas is 17-28 in December games; 18-31 when regular-season games played in January are added. The only winning December in that span came in 2001, but Dallas was 2-8 before that, so it didn't really matter.

The next game is Dec. 7 at AFC North leader Pittsburgh. Then the Cowboys come home for their final two games ever at Texas Stadium, against the NFC East-leading New York Giants and Baltimore, before the regular season finale at Philadelphia.

"The struggle's not over. Every time we line up — the series, the quarter, the half, the game — is going to be a challenge for us," owner Jerry Jones said. "A big part of December is Pittsburgh there. ... If we can go up and beat that Pittsburgh team, that will say a lot for this team as we look at making the playoffs."

At least the Cowboys still have a chance to get to the postseason, which didn't seem so certain only a few weeks ago when they were in a 2-4 stretch and without Romo. But Romo got back in time for a much-needed victory at Washington before victories over San Francisco and Seattle.

Before the recent resurgence, the only winning streak for the Cowboys was their 3-0 start when they seemed intent on living up to their preseason billing as a Super Bowl favorite.

Now, that still-healing broken pinkie and protective splint on Romo's throwing hand aren't keeping him from having 300-yard passing games, Terrell Owens is finally have productive games again and the defense is playing strong.

"The good thing is it gives us some momentum for December," Terence Newman said. "We have to make sure what we did at the end of November definitely picks up in December, and we can win these games and get this past December record off our backs."

At the same point last season, the Cowboys were 11-1, the best start in franchise history and already with a playoff berth clinched. But they went 2-2 in December, then lost their playoff game at home.

This time, a break-even December may not be enough to make the playoffs.

Missing the postseason would be a crushing blow for the Cowboys, considering Jones spent more than $70 million to re-sign Owens and four other Pro Bowl free agents, those among 13 Pro Bowl players back from last year's 13-win team.

"I don't think there's anybody in the locker room that would not be disappointed and saddened if we didn't make the playoffs," Newman said. "But for (Jones) to try and put this team like this together and not make the playoffs it would definitely be a tragedy."

The Cowboys got a three-day break and won't return to practice until Monday after beating Seattle. They will carry some momentum into the closing stretch of the season.

Romo was 22-of-34 for 331 yards with three TDs against the Seahawks, four days after throwing for 341 yards and three scores against San Francisco.

Owens followed his 213-yard receiving performance with five catches for 98 yards and a score, missing another 100-yard game when he dropped a wide-open slant on Romo's last pass. Witten, who hasn't missed a game despite a broken rib sustained a month ago, had nine catches for 115 yards (both season highs) with a touchdown.

Then there were the seven sacks by the defense, the most by the Cowboys since 1997, so the whole team is on a roll.

"Absolutely," Witten said. "And confidence and execution, all the things that go into it. It's big for this team."

DMN Blog: Dissecting the Cowboys' seven sacks vs. Seahawks

by Tim MacMahon

There are several reasons the Cowboys recorded their most sacks in a game in more than a decade. Here are a few of the reasons the Cowboys got to do their funky turkey dance seven times after putting Matt Hasselebeck on the Texas Stadium turf:
*DeMarcus Ware, who might be the best defensive player in the league, whupped future Hall of Fame LT Walter Jones.

*Wade Phillips and Co. exploited an inexperienced line (two starters inactive) with a variety of blitzes.

*The Cowboys jumped out to a big lead and shut down the run, allowing the Cowboys to pin their ears back and come after Hasselbeck.
For the nitty gritty on each of the seven sacks, follow the jump.

Sack 1 (DeMarcus Ware) -- On first-and-15, Cowboys came with a regular four-man rush out of the nickel. Ware beat Jones with a classic speed move, chopping the eight-time Pro Bowler's hands down while blowing by him to the outside.

Sack 2 (Tank Johnson) -- On first-and-10, Cowboys rushed five out of the base defense, with Ware dropping into coverage and Bradie James coming up the middle. NT Tank Johnson was left one-on-one with C Steve Vallos, lining up on the backup center's left shoulder and using quickness to beat Vallos to his right.

Sack 3 (Bradie James) -- On third-and-5, Cowboys rushed five out of the nickel. LB Bradie James came untouched up the middle on a delayed blitz, taking advantage of the inexperience of the Seahawks' interior linemen.

Sack 4 (DeMarcus Ware) -- On second-and-10, Cowboys came with a regular four-man rush out of the nickel. Ware beat Jones with an inside-out swim move, getting Jones to lean inside and slapping his hands down as Ware exploded to the outside.

Sack 5 (Bradie James) -- On third-and-14, Cowboys came with a five-man rush out of the 3-3 nickel look, with Ware dropping into coverage and Kevin Burnett and James coming. James, who came off the left edge, got matched up with TE John Carlson, overpowering the rookie to the inside after Carlson met James in the backfield.

Sack 6 (DeMarcus Ware) -- On third-and-6 out of the 3-3 nickel look, Cowboys came with a six-man rush with Ware, James and FS Ken Hamlin coming. RT Sean Locklear released Ware to try to pick up Hamlin when they both came off the left edge, letting Ware take the NFL sacks lead with an easy one. If Ware didn't get Hasselbeck, James would have.

Sack 7 (Greg Ellis) -- On second-and-4, Cowboys came with a regular four-man rush out of the nickel. Ellis bull-rushed Locklear. Hasselbeck covered the ball with both hands and went down without a fight.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Seahawks sacked and stuffed at Dallas

Defense gives up 447 yards, three passing TDs and fails to get to Romo


IRVING, Texas -- As Cortez Kennedy was trudging off the field at Texas Stadium, the former Seahawks defensive tackle could only shake his head and mutter, "I can't believe this. I just can't believe this."

Kennedy knows more than just a little about football frustration. He wasn't just the best player on a 1992 Seahawks team that went 2-14, he was voted NFL defensive player of the year in that forgettable season.

Thursday, Kennedy and a national television audience witnessed the Seahawks' latest embarrassing loss -- a 34-9 drubbing at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys. The Seahawks are 2-10 and looking like a team that is capable of finishing 2-14.
But that's where the comparisons must end.

As bad as this year's injury-ravaged offense has been, it is not as anemic as the '92 unit that scored only 140 points, averaged 210.9 yards per game and started five players who were not in the league the following season.

As bad as the '92 team was, the defense allowed 20 or fewer points in eight games and an average of 286.4 yards per game.

What the Cowboys did to the 2008 version of the Seahawks on Thanksgiving Day paralleled the problems the Seattle defense has been having all season:

Dallas quarterback Tony Romo, who was playing with a splint on his fractured right pinkie, passed for 331 yards and three touchdowns in completing 22 of 34 passes.

Tight end Jason Witten repeatedly exploited holes in the Seahawks' zone coverage to catch nine passes for 115 yards and a touchdown.

Wide receiver Terrell Owens, held in check for much of the afternoon by Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant, still had a 33-yard reception and another for a 19-yard touchdown as part of his five-catch, 98-yard effort.

The Cowboys averaged 4.8 yards on 24 running plays.

The Seahawks failed to register a sack of Romo.

The sum total of all these staggering statistics: The defense allowed 26-plus points for the seventh time this season, and at least 33 for the fourth time. The Seahawks also yielded 447 yards, the fifth time they've surrendered more than 400.
All this from the unit that was supposed to be the strength of this team.
"This year, we knew what we had coming back and we didn't know how to play to our strength," strong safety Deon Grant said. "We're still figuring out: What is our strength on this defense?

"I think some of the players know what the strength is. Some of the coaches know what the strength is. We really haven't put it together."

The passing of that buck, of course, stops at the desk of defensive coordinator John Marshall and his staff -- which includes secondary coach Jim Mora, who will become the head coach after this season.

Dallas' offensive avalanche started early; the Cowboys scored on their first four possessions to take a 24-3 lead midway through the second quarter. The lopsidedness of it all took the Seahawks out of their offensive game plan, forcing them to pass too much (38 passes, compared with 23 running plays). That led to quarterback Matt Hasselbeck being sacked seven times -- the most the Seahawks have allowed this season, and the most the Cowboys have registered this season.

"It's tough, it's really tough," Hasselbeck said of being pushed into obvious passing situations. "Especially when they've got guys like DeMarcus Ware (who had three sacks).

"You're trying to take a seven-step drop, and they're at home, and they're jumping the (snap) count. I don't want to say it's impossible, but it's very, very tough."
The Cowboys jumping to such a large -- and, for this offense, insurmountable -- lead also forced the Seahawks to alter their defensive game plan, as they finally started to come after Romo with blitzes. While they didn't sack him, they were able to not only whack him but also throw the Cowboys' passing game out of whack.

The Cowboys' final two series of the first half went three-and-out, while their first two possessions of the second half ended in an interception (by Trufant as a harried Romo threw into double coverage) and another punt.

So why did the Seahawks wait so long to turn up the heat?

"I can't talk about that, but you know," Grant said. "Nothing needs to be said. You know what time it is on that."

It was half-past too late.

"Our strength is bringing pressure; bringing heat," linebacker Julian Peterson said. "I don't care what kind of quarterback you have back there, you bring heat and obviously they have an opportunity to make big plays. But when they don't pick it up, it can lead to big plays for us.

"It's hit or miss, really."

The defensive shortcomings that were on display again Thursday left even outgoing coach Mike Holmgren to ponder a future he will have no bearing on.

"It's a little puzzling, because I felt the same way a lot of people did," Holmgren said. "I think we have to take a hard look at that side of the ball and maybe changes are necessary next year."

Those decisions will fall to Mora and club president Tim Ruskell, the architect of the current defense.

Because they played their second game in five days, the Seahawks now have 10 days to ponder what comes next: The New England Patriots on Dec. 7 at Qwest Field.
"It's a tough year, but we'll keep it going," Holmgren said. "We're going to battle until the end."


Tony Romo. There were other worthy candidates. Like Cowboys tight end Jason Witten, who caught nine passes for 115 yards. Like Cowboys linebacker Bradie James, who sparked a spirited defensive effort with 13 tackles and two of the Cowboys' seven sacks of Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck. But it was Romo's precision performance that led the Cowboys to scores on their first four possessions, taking the Seahawks out of their game plan -- on both sides of the ball. The Cowboys' QB finished with a 113.7 passer rating by completing 22 of 34 passes for 331 yards and three touchdowns -- to three different receivers. Romo was 7 of 8 for 118 yards in the first quarter alone.

Offense: Julius Jones' homecoming didn't exactly go according to a storybook script. On the Seahawks' sixth play of the game, the ex-Cowboys running back fumbled and his former teammates recovered -- setting the stage for another long Dallas drive and a 14-0 lead. Nose tackle Jay Ratliff stacked up the play, forcing Jones to slide to his left, where Cowboys defensive end Marcus Spears forced the fumble and cornerback Anthony Newman recovered the loose ball.

Defense: Make it back-to-back plays. The Seahawks had reached the Cowboys' 11-yard line late in the first half and had a chance to chisel into their 24-3 lead. But on second down, linebacker DeMarcus Ware beat Pro Bowl left tackle Walter Jones to drop Hasselbeck for a 4-yard sack, and on third down James came off a block by tight end John Carlson to get Hasselbeck for a 5-yard sack. The Seahawks settled for the second of three field goals by Olindo Mare.

Special teams: In a game in which special teams play had little impact, former University of Washington quarterback Isaiah Stanback broke a 58-yard kickoff return late in the first half. It gave the Cowboys a first down at the Seahawks' 39-yard line. But all the Cowboys had to show for it was a three-play-and-punt series.

NFL: What splint? Bandaged Romo gets Dallas by Seattle

Source: Mansfield News Journal

IRVING, Texas (AP) -- The Dallas Cowboys are ready for December.

On the verge of collapse just a few weeks ago, Tony Romo, DeMarcus Ware and the Cowboys guaranteed they will be a team to watch in the final month by crushing the Seattle Seahawks 34-9 Thursday for their third straight victory.

Romo got it rolling with touchdowns on the first three drives and points on the first four, then the defense took care of the rest. They racked up seven sacks — three by Ware, giving him an NFL-best 15 — and each was punctuated by a gobbling turkey version of the Chicken Dance, the kind of giddiness expected from a team playing the way Dallas (8-4) has been lately.

The Cowboys have wiped away the bitterness of a 2-4 rut and surged near the top of the NFC wild-card race. The turnaround began with Romo returning from a broken pinkie finger, albeit with a splint on his passing hand, and now he's expected to be back to full strength for the next game. Dallas also will get cornerback-punt returner Adam "Pacman" Jones back from a suspension.

Yet the Cowboys aren't getting too carried away with their good fortune. They realize they've padded their confidence with consecutive blowouts over bad teams and now they're going to play three straight tough foes: Pittsburgh, the New York Giants and Baltimore. Another stumbling block is their woeful recent history in Decembers — no winning records in the month since 2001.

"We had a rough patch and we're still not out of it," Romo said. "We've still got to go forward and keep putting together wins to get in the playoffs. Our confidence level is that on any given Sunday we can compete with the best of anybody. It'll be interesting to see how we do going forward."

About the only tense moments Thursday came in the third quarter, and they had nothing to do with the score. It was Marion Barber going out with a dislocated right pinkie toe, then Ware limping off with an aching left knee. Ware felt good enough that no exams were immediately done, but will still have an X-ray and an MRI to make sure everything is OK.

"At this moment, I feel good about both of those players," team owner Jerry Jones said.

The Seahawks lost their fifth straight game and fell to 2-10. It matches the most losses outgoing coach Mike Holmgren has had in his 17 years in the NFL, and there are four games left.

Seattle was within a touchdown of winning its past three games, but this one was never close after former Dallas running back Julius Jones fumbled on the Seahawks' first possession. The Cowboys wound up driving for a touchdown that made it 14-0; it was 24-3 midway through the second quarter.

"Coach told us we had to be close to perfect to beat these guys," Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said. "We haven't played been close to playing like that all season. If they keep playing the way they are, they have a chance to win it all. There was a time when we were that talented bunch with no injuries. It hasn't been like that for us this season."

Hasselbeck was 22-of-38 for a season-high 287 yards. He threw one interception and endured the most sacks (seven) the Cowboys defense has collected since getting nine on Nov. 9, 1997.

Jones was held to 37 yards on 11 carries in his return to Texas Stadium. Dallas fans booed every time he got the ball.

"It's a term of endearment to me," Jones said. "It just means they respect you."

Romo started 12-of-14 for 198 yards and two touchdowns, with Barber scoring once in between. It was the first time all season the Cowboys scored touchdowns on three straight drives. And it was the first time they'd started a game that way since Oct. 9, 1994, according to Stats Inc.

Another indication of how easy it was: Dallas gained first downs on 17 of their first 23 plays.

"T.O. will tell you I'm playing at a ridiculously high level," Romo said, smirking.

Romo finished 22-of-33 for 331 yards and three touchdowns with an interception. Jason Witten was a big part of the offense for the first time since breaking a rib, catching nine passes for 115 yards (both season highs) and a touchdown.

Terrell Owens had five catches for 98 yards and a touchdown. He blew his chance for a second straight 100-yard game by dropping a wide-open slant in the fourth quarter.

"Obviously, this helps out a lot but I think somebody in the locker room said last week, if the season ended today, we're still left out (of the playoffs)," Witten said. "You've got to have that mentality and understand the challenges that are ahead. It's still going to be even tougher as December rolls around."

Notes:@ This was the Cowboys' last Thanksgiving at Texas Stadium. They went 22-14 playing under the hole in the roof. ... Romo is 3-0 on the holiday, with great numbers: 65-of-91 (71.4 percent) for 832 yards with 10 touchdowns and two interceptions. ... The Seahawks aren't big on Thanksgiving in Dallas. They're 0-2, losing by a cumulative score of 85-16. ... Dallas rookie TE Martellus Bennett caught a touchdown pass for the third straight game.

Thanksgiving NFL games were snoozers

Source: Post-Bulletin
From news services

National Football League teams didn't serve up any suspense in three games on Thanksgiving Day.

All the games were blowouts, capped by Philadelphia's 48-20 romp past Arizona in the evening.

Earlier in the day, Tennessee - which a few days ago was still unbeaten -- ripped winless Detroit 47-10 and Dallas routed Seattle 34-9.

Cardinals carved up by Eagles

PHILADELPHIA -- There are reasons why no Western team has won in the Eastern time zone this year, reasons why they've gone 3-30 in the past two seasons.

Whether the main explanation is the long flight Western teams have to make, or the lost hours, the situation seems ready-made for one-sided games.

So the Eagles' easy 48-20 win over the Cardinals wasn't at all surprising.

The Cardinals had said that the recent disastrous West-to-East history hadn't psyched them out. But they seemed shell-shocked from the start.

The Eagles, who hadn't scored in 21 straight possessions, easily maneuvered 70 yards for a touchdown after taking the opening kickoff.

By contrast, the Cardinals' high-powered offense generated only 28 yards in the first quarter; by this time, Kurt Warner had already thrown two interceptions.

And when the Eagles marched 60 yards in the second quarter, a drive capped by Donovan McNabb's second touchdown pass, they'd run up a 21-0 lead.

The rest of the game was played so the NFL Network could get in some commercials.

The Cardinals (7-5) still can wrap up their first division title since 1975 if Buffalo takes care of San Francisco at home on Sunday.

Romo sharp for Cowboys

IRVING, Texas -- Tony Romo might not want to take the splint off his passing hand the way he and the Dallas Cowboys are playing.

Romo crisply guided Dallas to touchdowns on its first three drives and points on the first four, then turned the early surge into a 34-9 victory over the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday.

The Cowboys won their third straight, matching their best roll of the season, all coming since Romo returned from a broken right pinkie. Dallas is 8-4 and back near the top of the NFC playoff race. Now comes the hard part -- staying there.

The Cowboys' next three games are against Pittsburgh, the New York Giants and Baltimore. That stretch will be even tougher if they're without linebacker DeMarcus Ware and running back Marion Barber. Both left with injuries in the third quarter, Ware because of a sprained left knee and Barber with a bruised right pinkie toe.

The Seahawks lost their fifth straight game and fell to 2-10. It matches the most losses outgoing coach Mike Holmgren has had in his 17 years in the NFL, and there are four games left.

Lions move closer to history

DETROIT -- Chris Johnson was untouched on a short run to the outside and a long gain up the middle.

The two plays were symbolic of the canyon-like gap between the once-beaten Tennessee Titans and the winless Detroit Lions.

Johnson ran for two touchdowns in the first quarter, LenDale White scored twice in the second and Tennessee coasted.

Johnson finished with 125 yards rushing and White added 106 on the ground as Tennessee met its goal of re-establishing the running game.

The Titans (11-1) bounced back from their first defeat of the season, surging to a 28-3 lead in the opening minute of the second, and have their best 12-game record in franchise history.

The Lions (0-12) moved a step closer to becoming the NFL's first 0-16 team, losing by a franchise-worst 37 points and giving up a franchise-record 47 points in their 69th game on Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

DMN Blog: DeMarcus Ware says he'll be ready for Steelers; Marion Barber stays mum

by Tim MacMahon

DeMarcus Ware will have an MRI on his hyperextended left knee, but he said that's a precautionary measure. The NFL's sacks leader and proud Galloping Gobbler winner assured reporters that he'll play against the Steelers in 10 days.

"I'll be ready for this big game in Pittsburgh," Ware said.

Barber, as usual, said nothing. Jerry Jones said his star running back suffered a dislocated pinkie toe on his right foot.

"I don't want to speculate," Jerry said when asked about Barber's availability against the Steelers, "but there's no way I'll rule him out."

Cowboys' Ware and Barber leave game against Seattle

Source: FOX30Online

Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware and running back Marion Barber left Thursday's 34-9 win against Seattle due to injuries.

Ware had three sacks, taking over the lead in the NFL with 15, before he sprained his left knee late in the third quarter. Ware got hurt when his leg twisted as he was rushing the quarterback.

After being tended to on the field by trainers, Ware walked off under his own power, but did not return.

Barber got hurt late in the first half, and went to the locker room before halftime. He came back after the break, but ran only one more time.

Barber had 10 carries for 32 yards, including a two-yard touchdown in the first quarter, and added a 13-yard reception.

What splint? Bandaged Romo gets Dallas by Seattle

Associated Press - November 27, 2008 7:53 PM ET

IRVING, Texas (AP) - Tony Romo might not want to take the splint off his passing hand the way he and the Dallas Cowboys are playing.

Romo crisply guided Dallas to touchdowns on its first three drives and points on the first four, then turned the early surge into a 34-9 victory over the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday.

The Cowboys won their third straight, matching their best roll of the season, all coming since Romo returned from a broken right pinkie. Dallas is 8-4 and back near the top of the NFC playoff race. Now comes the hard part - staying there.

The Cowboys' next three games are against Pittsburgh, the New York Giants and Baltimore. That stretch will be even tougher if they're without linebacker DeMarcus Ware and running back Marion Barber. Both left with injuries in the third quarter, Ware because of a sprained left knee and Barber with a bruised right pinkie toe.

Romo's three TDs help Cowboys pound Seahawks


Tony Romo threw three touchdowns as the Dallas Cowboys destroyed the Seattle Seahawks, 34-9.

Romo went 22-for-34 with 331 yards and an interception and his favorite target was Jason Witten, who caught nine passes for 115 yards and a score for the Cowboys (8-4), who have won three straight.

Marion Barber had 10 carries for 32 yards and a touchdown, but left in the third quarter with an undisclosed injury. DeMarcus Ware had three sacks and now has 15 on the season to lead the NFL, but he sprained his left knee late in the third quarter and did not return.

The win moves Dallas ahead of Washington and Atlanta for the final wild card spot in the NFC. The Redskins host the Giants on Sunday while Atlanta plays in San Diego on Sunday.

Matt Hasselbeck went 22-for-38 with 287 yards and an interception while John Carlson had five catches for 105 yards for the Seahawks (2-10), who have lost their past five games.

Trailing by 18 points, Seattle started the second half with the ball and put together an impressive drive and had a 1st-and-goal, but were unable to punch the ball in and had to settle for a 25-yard field goal from Olindo Mare to make it a 24-9 game with 9:37 left in the third.

Romo was picked off in the Seattle end zone on Dallas' next touch, but the Seahawks were unable to take advantage of the opportunity.

Later in the third, Dallas increased its lead with a four-play drive as Romo found Terrell Owens in the end zone from 19 yards out for a 31-9 advantage with 2:19 to play in the third. On the play before the score, Romo and Owens connected for 33 yards.

A 42-yard field goal from Nick Folk a bit over six minutes into the fourth quarter gave the Cowboys a 34-9 lead to account for the final score.

The Cowboys started the game with the ball and wasted no time taking the lead as Romo found Martellus Bennett in the end zone from 16 yards out for a 7-0 lead just 2:24 into the game. The big play of the drive occurred right before the touchdown as Romo hooked up with Witten for 36 yards.

Seattle was driving on its ensuing possession, but Julius Jones fumbled at the Dallas 28 and the Cowboys recovered.

Dallas methodically went down the field and from two yards out Barber punched the ball into the end zone to cap the nine-play drive for a 14-0 lead with 4:50 left in the first.

The Seahawks put points on the board on their next touch as Mare put the ball through the uprights from 44 yards out to cap an eight-play, 43-yard drive with under a minute to play in the first quarter.

However, the Cowboys continued to move the ball with impunity as the Seattle defense got no pressure on Romo. An eight-play, 80-yard drive that took a bit less than four minutes was capped when Romo found Witten in the end zone from seven yards out for a 21-3 lead.

The Cowboys got a 41-yard field goal from Folk with 7:34 left in the second, but the Seahawks got the points back on their next drive thanks to a 38-yard field goal from Mare with 1:31 remaining in the first half.

Game Notes

Witten caught the 400th pass of his career in the first quarter. He is the 21st tight end in NFL history to accomplish that feat...Dallas is now 26-14-1 on Thanksgiving...Seattle hosts New England next Sunday...The Cowboys play at Pittsburgh next Sunday...It was the 16th time Romo has thrown for at least 300 yards, which is a Dallas record...Owens had five catches for 98 yards along with the score.


Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

Seahawks at Cowboys

When: 3:15 p.m. today
Records: Seattle 2-9, Dallas 7-4

TV / Radio: Fox; KWTO 98.7 FM

Line: Cowboys by 12

What to watch for: RB Julius Jones, who went to Seattle in free agency after Dallas made no attempt to re-sign him, played four Thanksgiving Day games for Cowboys. His best holiday was as rookie in 2004, when he ran 33 times for 150 yards and two TDs. ... Seattle has lost four straight. ... In two games since missing five because of a bulging disk in back, Seattle QB Matt Hasselbeck is 29-of-53 for only 273 yards with three TDs and five interceptions. ... Cowboys LT Flozell Adams has seven career blocked kicks, three coming on Thanksgiving Day. ... Tony Romo has thrown 31 touchdown passes to Terrell Owens, most for any quarterback-receiver duo since 2006. Second on that list are Eli Manning and Plaxico Burress of Giants with 26. ... LB Zach Thomas has 1,997 career tackles. ... TE Jason Witten still leads Cowboys with 49 catches, even though he has only four for 53 yards in past four games. ... FS Ken Hamlin, in second year with Cowboys, was Seattle's second-round pick in 2003 and had 297 tackles with eight interceptions in four seasons with Seahawks.

Romo’s return sparks Cowboys


IRVING, Texas — When Tony Romo broke his pinkie, the Dallas Cowboys soon discovered a weakness that went far beyond bumbling backup quarterbacks.

Believe it or not, Romo’s absence exposed the Dallas defense.

Throughout last season and the early part of this year, Cowboys defenders fell into the habit of being the supporting cast for Romo, Terrell Owens and crew. Knowing those guys would score in the 30 s, the defense got comfortable trying to hold teams in the 20 s. They really liked how long their teammates held the ball, because that meant fewer chances for them to give up points and fresher legs when they were on the field.

Then Romo went down and the defense was asked to do more to win games.

Instead, the Cowboys let St. Louis run for 180 yards, the most against their defense under Coach Wade Phillips... until two weeks later, when the New York Giants ran for 200 yards. Cumulative score of those games: Opponents 69, Cowboys 28.

“We saw if we played like that every week, we don’t have a chance,” said linebacker Bradie James, a defensive co-captain. “Everybody rallied around each other and just said, ‘Forget the call, stop the guy with the ball.’” Clinton Portis and Frank Gore can attest to a new attitude. So can their quarterbacks.

Over the past two games, Dallas has allowed a total of 118 yards rushing and collected seven sacks, with five players getting in on the action. With Romo getting back in the groove despite wearing a splint on his passing hand, the Cowboys (7-4 ) carry a modest two-game winning streak into today’s game against Seattle (2-9 ).

Dallas’ playoff chances might be riding on it, too.

The Cowboys would still be in the wild-card hunt, but imagine the ramifications of losing to a going-nowhere team like the Seahawks: 10 days of hearing how they’re headed toward another disastrous December — Dallas hasn’t had a winning record in the month since 2001 — followed by games against Pittsburgh, the Giants and Baltimore. That’ll be a tough stretch even if the Cowboys beat Seattle and have the momentum of a three-game winning streak.

Linebacker Greg Ellis believes Dallas is ready to get on a roll after being humbled by its midseason struggles.

“I like what I’m smelling from this team,” he said. “That ‘this-is-the-greatest-thing-ever assembled’ kind of [attitude ] is gone. People realize we can be beat. We’ve got to show up and play good football. That is what’s changed.” Back when Dallas was a chic Super Bowl pick, Seattle also was considered among the NFC’s best. That’s probably why this game was chosen for the Thanksgiving showcase.

Injuries have turned Seahawks Coach Mike Holmgren’s farewell season into a lame-duck finish. They have their worst record since 1992 and have lost four consecutive games. The only solace is that the past three games were close.

Flying across the country on short rest to face a team with a lot to prove has trouble written all over it. However, at least one Seattle player is riled up for this game: Julius Jones, the running back who started for Dallas ahead of Marion Barber all last season, until the playoffs.

Jones hoped to make the Cowboys regret losing him in free agency, but it’s hardly worked out that way. He even lost his starting job to Maurice Morris last week, although Holmgren is restoring it this week because of how badly Jones wants to show off against the Cowboys.

“My first year there in Dallas [2004 ] things were a lot different for me. I had more opportunities and I made the best out of it,” said Jones, who had 1, 084 yards in his last full season before sharing carries with Barber. “After that, opportunities started to decrease and here we are today. Come to your own conclusion.” The last time these teams met was the 2006 playoffs, when Romo botched the hold on a short field-goal attempt and was tackled just shy of a first down and not far from a touchdown. Seattle won and Dallas Coach Bill Parcells ended up leaving without winning a playoff game for the Cowboys.

Romo has overcome that flub to prove he’s among the best in the NFL. Holmgren has seen the progress and has noticed similarities between Romo and Brett Favre, whom Holmgren coached in Green Bay when Romo was growing up in nearby Burlington, Wis.

“At his age and with what he’s accomplished and the success he’s had, it just breeds more success. I think he feels that,” Holmgren said. “The only thing I’ve alerted our guys to is he will take chances — not unlike another guy I coached a few years ago. You have to be prepared for the ball coming out at different angles, later than you might think, and you really have to play the entire play, because he’s going to keep it alive.” Seahawks at Cowboys 3: 15 p. m., Fox 1 Line — Cowboys by 12 / 2 LAST MEETING Seahawks 21, Cowboys 20, Jan, 6, 2007 in NFC wild-card playoff. LAST WEEK Seahawks lost to Redskins 20-17; Cowboys beat 49 ers 35-22. STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES RB Julius Jones, who went to Seattle in free agency after Dallas made no attempt to re-sign him, played four Thanksgiving Day games for Cowboys. His best holiday was as rookie in 2004, when he ran 33 times for 150 yards and two TDs.... Seattle has lost four consecutive games.... In two games since missing five because of a bulging disk in back, Seattle QB Matt Hasselbeck is 29 of 53 for 273 yards with three TDs and five interceptions.... Cowboys LT Flozell Adams has seven career blocked kicks, three coming on Thanksgiving Day.... Tony Romo has thrown 31 touchdown passes to Terrell Owens, most for any quarterback-receiver duo since 2006. Second on that list are Eli Manning and Plaxico Burress of Giants with 26.... LB Zach Thomas has 1, 997 career tackles.... TE Jason Witten still leads Cowboys with 49 catches, even though he has only four for 53 yards in past four games.... FS Ken Hamlin (Arkansas Razorbacks ), in second year with Cowboys, was Seattle’s second-round pick in 2003 and had 297 tackles with eight interceptions in four seasons with Seahawks.

NFC East rules Pack this season

Dave Gross, Canwest News Service
Published: Thursday, November 27, 2008

The days when the AFC laid claim to being the dominant conference in the National Football League are finally history, but what a lengthy run by the mainstays.

New England has floated back to the pack thanks to the untimely demise of Tom Brady; Indianapolis remains solid, but aging; Pittsburgh is revealing holes; and San Diego looks tired. Tennessee, of course, is enjoying a remarkable year.

The best division -- by a healthy margin -- is the NFC's East, where the worst team, Philadelphia, can still beat any other on any given Thursday, Sunday or Monday.

The New York Giants are clearly the class of the league, Dallas has its mojo back and Washington isn't far behind.

There's fresh blood in the NFC, too. Atlanta is young and charging, while Arizona might be the most entertaining show on the circuit.

Here is a look at the games being played today on the U.S. Thanksgiving Day holiday.

Tennessee (10-1) at Detroit (0-11) (+11): This had the makings for a Perfect Storm before the Jets beat the Titans to halt the NFL's latest quest to shut Mercury Morris up. A short week is a good thing for both: It gives the Titans a chance for a quick rebound, and it helps the Lions get a little faster to the end of their season. It's a big number spread, but take Tennessee.

Seattle (2-9) at Dallas (7-4) (-12): The Cowboys still have some heavy sledding ahead, including back-to-back games against the Steelers and Giants, but they're firmly back in the playoff picture. Last week proved how much Tony Romo means to them. Seattle played with gumption on Sunday, but there's not enough to slow the Cowboys. Take Dallas.

Arizona (7-4) at Philadelphia (5-5-1) (-2): Donovan McNabb, what have you done for us lately? Incredible the hatchet job done by the national media on McNabb, who has struggled the past two weeks. Arizona can't win in the east, and, given that this is a short week, too, take Philadelphia.

Last week (ATS): 10-5 (one push)

Season (ATS): 91-83

Note: This week's other picks will appear on Sunday.

NFC teams cream of the crop

Dave Gross, Canwest News Service
Published: Thursday, November 27, 2008

The days where the AFC laid claim to being the dominant conference are finally history -- but what a lengthy run by the mainstays.

New England has floated back to the pack thanks to the untimely demise of Tom Brady; Indy remains solid, but aging; the Steelers are revealing holes; and the Chargers look tired. Tennessee, of course, is enjoying a remarkable year.

The best division -- by a healthy margin -- is the NFC East where the worst team -- Philadelphia -- can still beat any other on any given Thursday, Sunday or Monday.

The Giants are clearly the class of the league, Dallas has its mojo back and the 'Skins aren't far behind.

There's fresh blood in the NFC to boot. Atlanta is young and charging, while Arizona might be the most entertaining show on the circuit. Both the Cards and Falcons should push it up another level this week.


Tennessee (10-1) at Detroit (0-11) (+11) -- Had the makings for a Perfect Storm before the Jets halted the Titans, in the NFL's latest quest to shut Mercury Morris up. A short week is a good thing for both -- it gives the Titans a chance for a quick rebound, and it helps the Lions get a little faster to the end of their season. It's a big number spread, but take Tennessee.

Seattle (2-9) at Dallas (7-4) (-12) -- The Cowboys still have some heavy sledding ahead, including back-to-back weeks against the Steelers and Giants, but they're firmly back in the playoff picture. Last week proved how much Tony Romo means to their success. Seattle played with gumption on Sunday, but there's not enough to slow down the Cowboys. Take Dallas.

Arizona (7-4) at Philadelphia (5-5-1) (-2) -- Donovan McNabb, what have you done for us lately? Incredible the hatchet job done by the national media on McNabb who's struggled the past two weeks. Arizona can't win in the east, and given that this is a short week as well: Take Philadelphia.


San Francisco (3-8) at Buffalo (6-5) (-7) -- The Bills finally found their missing moxy last week and will continue to be flashy this Sunday against the 29th-rated pass defence. Take Buffalo.

Baltimore (7-4) at Cincinnati (1-9-1) (+7) -- Sporting a defence that's ranked fourth in points allowed and second in yards per game, the Ravens defence remains their strong suit. Sporting an offence that's ranked 31st in points and last in yards per game, the Bengals defence better bring oxygen masks -- they'll be living on the playing field Sunday. Take Baltimore.

Indianapolis (7-4) at Cleveland (4-7) (+4.5) -- This is a key game for the Colts who are in the midst of resurgence. Not so much for the Browns who likely won't have wunderkind Brady Quinn (finger) the rest of the year. Take Indianapolis.

Carolina (8-3) at Green Bay (5-5) (-3) -- Meet the Panthers: The most frustrating team in the league. Are they an NFC contender? Seemingly it depends on whether the moon is in retrograde, or we're experiencing a celestial sphere. After a consultation with the ghost of Sir Isaac Newton, take Green Bay.

Miami (6-5) at St. Louis (2-9) (+8) -- The Dolphins continue to win games they should (Seattle, Oakland) and put this week's opponent in the same bracket. Miami has a forgiving schedule -- after the Bills next week, they get the 49ers and Chiefs. Take Miami.

New Orleans (6-5) at Tampa Bay (8-3) (-3) -- Drew Brees is on pace to set a number of records, including passing Dan Marino's mark for passing yards in a season. The Bucs' pass defence, though, is the NFL's second best. Tampa's rolling, winners of five of its last six games. Take Tampa Bay.

N.Y. Giants (10-1) at Washington (7-4) (+3.5) -- Great match up between Brandon Jacobs -- who could have played last week but rested his knee -- and Clinton Portis. But let's face facts here, the Giants prove week after week they are practically flawless in all aspects of the game. Take New York.

Atlanta (7-4) at San Diego (4-7) (-5) -- The Chargers were close against both Pittsburgh and Indianapolis the last two Sundays, but lost both. The Falcons keep getting better and more confident with each week. Take Atlanta.

Pittsburgh (8-3) at New England (7-4) (-1) -- You have to feel for the Steelers. After getting a breather against the Bengals, they get the Pats, Cowboys, Ravens and Titans in subsequent weeks. What they'll have left once the season ends is a good question, but this week, with a re-juiced offensive line, they'll have enough against an injury-riddled New England club. Take Pittsburgh.

Denver (6-5) at N.Y. Jets (8-3) (-7) -- New York's 'other' team has taken on celebrity status. The Jets have become the media's flavour of the week and will hold onto the status against a poor pass defence. Brett Favre is hot at the right time -- just one pick and five TDs in his last three games. Take New York.

Kansas City (1-10) at Oakland (3-8) (-3) -- In a shocking development, the Oakland Raiders are favoured to win a football game for the first time since John Madden was a coach and not a video game. The Raiders have discovered a run game, too, and face the NFL's 31st-ranked run defence. Take Oakland.

Chicago (6-5) at Minnesota (6-5) (-3) -- If the Vikes ever stumbled on an effective pass attack they'd be a serious playoff threat. Still, that stout run defence, capable pass D and Adrian Peterson will give the Bears too much to chew on. Take Minnesota.


Jacksonville (4-7) at Houston (4-7) -- Not quite the ratings grab the long foreheads at Monday Night had envisioned. The Jags playoff hopes drowned last week; Houston's been toast since Sage Rosenfels gift-wrapped a win for Indy several weeks back. A good example how Vegas has saved meaningless games from being, well, meaningless. Take Jacksonville.

Breaking down the Turkey Day games

By Ricky O'Donnellon
November 27, 2008 1:58 AM

Tennessee at Detroit

The Lions would seem to be just what the doctor ordered for struggling Titans rookie runner Chris Johnson. Midway through the season, Johnson was on pace to rush for over 1,500 yards. Things haven't come so easy the last few weeks. In his last three games, Johnson has carried 41 times for just 118 yards and zero touchdowns. That's good for a 2.8 yards per carry average.

Luckily for Johnson fantasy owners, the Lions are the league's worst when it comes to stopping the run, giving up 166.5 yards per game on the ground.

The Titans should manhandle the Lions, which should mean Johnson is due for lots of carries. He's a strong start on Thanksgiving.

Seattle at Dallas

The second game of the day is another juicy one for fantasy owners, particularly if you have Tony Romo or T.O. Dallas loves to pass the rock, Seattle happens to be the second worst unit in the league when it to defending it.

All of Dallas' major offensive guns - Romo, Owens, Witten, and Barber - are strong starts. Expect loads of points from the Cowboys today.

Arizona at Philadelphia

The Eagles' offense is a train wreck of John Daly-like proportions right now. Brian Westbrook has been garbage all season, McNabb can't protect the ball (or his job) to his save his life, and the receivers are nothing to write home about. I wouldn't be starting any of those guys in fantasy until they prove their worth again.

The Cardinals, by comparison, are the exact opposite. They might have the top offense in the NFL. Anquan Boldin has been on a tear since returning with metal in his face, and Larry Fitzgerald has remained productive all the while. Even Steve Breaston isn't a bad start in deep leagues. It's all because Kurt Warner is playing at an MVP level. The award will probably come down him and New Orleans' Drew Brees.

Though Philly's D ranks a respectable 11th in the league against the pass, I wouldn't expect them to slow down Arizona. If you own a Cardinal, congrats. Tomorrow should be another good day.

From Matt and I, have a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

Today's NFL games

Seahawks at Cowboys

Matchup: Seattle 2-9; Dallas 7-4.

When/where: 4:15; Texas Stadium, Irving, Texas.

TV: Fox (Channel 2 in Detroit).

Line: Cowboys by 12 1/2 .

Overview: The Cowboys are 2-0 since Tony Romo's return. WR Terrell Owens topped 200 yards last week. Seahawks RB Julius Jones returns to Dallas, where he spent his first four seasons. Seattle has lost four straight.

Cardinals at Eagles

Matchup: Arizona 7-4;

Philadelphia 5-5-1.

When/where: 8:15; Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia.

TV: NFL Network.

Line: Eagles by 3.

Overview: Eagles QB Donovan McNabb was benched last week but will start tonight. Eagles RB Brian Westbrook (knee/ankle) is questionable. The Cardinals can clinch their first division title since 1975 with a win. Arizona is 1-6 in the Eastern time zone since 2006.

Light menu being served up today for Thanksgiving


If not for the presence of star quarterback Tony Romo and the recent revival of the Dallas Cowboys, the NFL would be serving nothing but lame leftovers for Thanksgiving.

There are three games today, and the first two feature double-digit favorites against two of the league's worst teams.

"If you look at the schedule of games, I guess there are two turkey dinners," Las Vegas Hilton sports book director Jay Kornegay said. "These games are not intriguing matchups, unfortunately.

"We anticipate the general public is going to play the two favorites, especially when you have two underperforming teams like the Lions and Seahawks. And when I said underperforming teams, I was trying to be polite."

The late game, in which Philadelphia is a 3-point home favorite over Arizona, should be more competitive. Donovan McNabb will start at quarterback for the Eagles after being benched at halftime last week.

Since Romo's return from a right pinkie injury, the Cowboys (7-4) have re-emerged as a postseason threat by winning and covering against San Francisco and Washington.

The Seahawks, 2-9 straight up and 5-6 against the spread, do have one trend in their corner. According to the closing lines at the Hilton, double-digit 'dogs are 17-2 against the spread in the NFL this season.

That's only part of what makes the Lions (0-11) attractive to Dave Tuley of

The Titans, 10-1 straight up and 9-2 against the spread, could be emotionally flat after suffering their first loss last week.

"Just like the profitable angle where you bet against a college football team the next week after its perfect season is ruined, the last seven times an NFL team has started at least 10-0 and lost, they've gone just 2-5 against the spread in their next game," Tuley said.

Detroit, which has failed to win or cover in its past four Thanksgiving games, is 0-5 ATS at home this season.

The Hilton has posted proposition bets on all of today's games.

After Tennessee's loss to the New York Jets, Lucky's sports books posted a prop on a potential Jets-Giants matchup in the Super Bowl, with "No" as a minus-1,200 favorite and "Yes" returning plus-900.

• R-J CHALLENGE -- Two of 10 competitors in the Review-Journal NFL Challenge, which is published Sundays, are playing games today based on the Hilton SuperContest lines.

R-J sports editor Joe Hawk is siding with the Titans (-11) and Cowboys (-121/2). Tuley, who is taking the underdog Lions and Seahawks, is 37-22-1 against the spread for the season.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Overreaction Monday

Posted by's Matt Mosley


Todd Archer of the Dallas Morning News loved what he saw from Tony Romo on Sunday.
Calvin Watkins of the DMN discusses the Cowboys' injury issues.
Jean-Jacques Taylor is sticking to his guns after saying that T.O. needed to play a lesser role in the offense.
Randy Galloway of the Star-Telegram and 103.3 ESPN FM writes that Jason Garrett's system seemed to work just fine for T.O. on Sunday.
The Cowboys' mascot Rowdy was banished from the sideline Sunday.
Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News and ESPN's "Around the Horn" focuses on the Cowboys' defense.

Steve Patton has more on the McNabb benching in the Reading Eagle.
Since we've already linked to most of the McNabb columns, let's take a look a look at what 700 Level is saying.
So how did Kevin Kolb look?
Mike Ditka doesn't think Donovan McNabb is to blame for Philadelphia's problems this season.

Ralph Vacchiano talks about how the Giants found yet another way to win.
Tim Smith of the Daily News said the Giants didn't flinch when they lost Brandon Jacobs.
Mike Vaccaro of the Post doesn't think anyone can stop the Giants.
Richard Obert talks about how Domenik Hixon wasn't given much notice that he'd be returning kickoffs. Certainly didn't seem to matter.
Bob Glauber of Newsday fame took the Eli Manning angle.

Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post talks about how Clinton Portis took it to the Seahawks.
Les Carpenter talks about Shawn Springs making the game-clinching interception against his former team.
Ryan O'Halloran of the Washington Times has more on Springs' interception and how it bailed out Ladell Betts.
Mike Wise of the Post talks about the Holmgren-Zorn relationship.
Dan Daly of the Washington Times talks about the spark in the Redskins' offense.
Sean Taylor's vehicles are being auctioned off, according to Dan Steinberg.

Player Update: Pat Watkins-DB

Cowboys S Pat Watkins left Sunday's game in the fourth quarter after re-aggravating a neck stinger.

Watkins has dealt with this injury for a majority of the season. "It's kind of hard," he said. "You're trying to hit people and it [stinks]." He'll be re-evaluated early this week, but bear in mind that the Cowboys play this Thursday. He needs to recover quickly.
Source: Dallas Morning News

Player Update: Kyle Kosier-G

Cowboys LG Kyle Kosier re-injured his right foot in the second half Sunday.

Kosier has already missed eight games this season because of the injury, diagnosed as a sprain and a fracture. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he would be surprised if his left guard was able to play Thursday. Cory Procter should be able to step in and provide adequate help.
Source: Dallas Morning News

Player Update: Mike Jenkins-DB

Cowboys CB Mike Jenkins injured his hamstring on punt coverage Sunday and will undergo an MRI on Monday.

Jenkins has played a big role in the Cowboys' secondary over the past few weeks with Terence Newman banged up. The 'Boys play the Seahawks on Thursday, so he'll need some encouraging MRI results to be in action.
Source: Dallas Morning News

T.O. goes off on the field this time


Instead of dominating, the Dallas Cowboys offense was sleep-walking its way through the first quarter against the San Francisco 49ers when Tony Romo and Terrell Owens provided a spark.

Maybe, the 75-yard touchdown pass was more like an explosion.

"We hadn't done much offensively," said head coach Wade Phillips. "Defensively stopped 'em twice down there, it's six-nothing third down, we needed to make a play."

"They unleashed me today," Owens said. "It was good to get my hands on the ball a little bit."

Owens' big day coming after he went public during the week and criticized offensive coordinator Jason Garrett and his scheme and now that Owens has the offensive explosion, the Cowboys would like us to believe its all happen-stance.

"I think you call games differently week-to-week based on what defense is doing to you and what you think can be good," Garrett said.

Owens blamed the system for his recent lack of production during an interview on the NFL Network with former Cowboy Deion Sanders.

"I will say I'm always honest," Owens said. "I will shoot you straight."

"Contrary to what is believed or not believed we try to get the ball to our best players and he's obviously one of our best players," Phillips said.

"It's a case of he said if we get him the ball we'll win," owner Jerry Jones said. "Looks like he pegged it right."

"We have a system we believe in and players we believe in too and our players have worked hard," Garrett said. "Terrell's a featured player in our offense and has been and always will be."

Owens' seven catches for 213 yards is his second best receiving day and tied for the fourth most single-game receiving yards in Cowboys history.

Ironically enough, his performance came on the same day as a Dallas Morning News column said Owens best days are behind him.

"The demise of Terrell Owens has been overly exaggerated I think we can see he still has it," Phillips said.

"When I get my hands on the ball things happen," Owens said. "It's not a mystery. You go from what I've done here to Philly to San Francisco, nothing's changed."

"You can see he's still got it," Romo said. He's a fantastic player and they didn't want to do anything special to take him out of the game."

That strategy was so bad that the only drama late in this game was whether Owens could crack the 200 yard barrier.

"He might have reminded me actually," Romo said. "I just remember him being like 'I need a yard,' and I was like 'I don't know what you're talking about.'"

"Once we got the ball back and it was about 3 minutes left I told him I needed one yard," Owens said.

Yeah it's all fun and games now, but you can't help but wonder what it means for the future.


Posted by Josh Alper on November 24, 2008, 9:32 a.m. EST

QB Tony Romo’s return to form had the Cowboys passing game in high gear.

Much of the Cowboy success through the air came at the expense of 49er CB Nate Clements.

Clements did deliver a vicious hit that caused Cowboy TE Jason Witten to leave the game briefly.

The Cowboys held 49er RB Frank Gore to 26 yards on 14 carries.

Cowboy LB Carlos Polk pinned the 49ers deep with a tackle on kick coverage and then blocked a punt for a safety three plays later.

LB Manny Lawson was a bright spot on a long day for the 49er defense.

Said Cowboys WR Terrell Owens of his 213-yard game, “They unleashed me today.”

49ers WR Isaac Bruce had eight catches for 125 yards and a touchdown.

Cowboy LG Kyle Kosier re-injured his right foot and went to the locker room in the second half.

The Cowboy pass rush sacked 49er QB Shaun Hill four times and contributed to two fumbles and and interception from the quarterback.

Singletary channels Nolan after Cowboys loss

The always-entertaining Mike Singletary just held his Monday press conference. Asked if there was a talent mismatch against the Cowboys, Singletary essentially said that the Cowboys have been building a team with a plan in mind far longer than the 49ers. He said the 49ers have been dealing with "peripheral things" for so long that they are only just now at the point where they've gotten rid of the players they didn't want and added young players they do. In that way, he sounded a lot like Mike Nolan, who routinely insisted that the 49ers were headed in the right direction but noted that they began the building process with very little foundation.

Like Nolan, Singletary used the word "character" to describe what he was looking for in his team. He said that the 49ers were "more selective" than the Cowboys in the players they wanted, the implication being that the T.O.'s and Pac-man Jones of the world wouldn't be welcome in San Francisco. In fact, he likened the process to rebuilding the team as a "blood transfusion." "You have to figure out what is acceptable and what isn't," he said about the incoming blood.

As was the case with Nolan, Singletary on Monday was defiant about the defensive game plan, pinning the lopsided nature of the game on lapses by the players. Unlike Nolan, he also called out a couple of players - both directly and indirectly - using very blunt language. Asked more questions about cornerback Nate Clements, he said that on Terrell Owens' first long touchdown, Clements should have had help over the top. Keith Lewis was the safety on the play and barely got back in time to put a hand on Owens. On the play on which Owens beat safety Mark Roman deep, Singletary said Owens should have been jammed at the line and instead the player assigned to do that "kind of reached out and touched him." (Don't know who was responsible on that play).

Asked about rookie Chilo Rachal's first start ever, Singletary threw down the gauntlet to the second-round pick. "He did not play well," Singletary said. "He played like a rookie." Of course, he couldn't have been too displeased. "He will start this week (at Buffalo) and he will play better. But he did not play well."

On the two first-and-goal sequences in which the 49ers had to settle for field goals, Singletary said, "I think if Mike Martz had to do it over again, he would do it over again." The 49ers went 'pass, run, pass' on both sequences and failed to pick up a yard. But Singletary defended how Martz used Frank Gore, noting that the Dallas defense was stacked to stop the running back. "If you (face) a seven-man box, you're going to run Frank as much as you can. When you have an eight-man box, you're going to run him a little bit less. When you have a nine-man box, you're going to want to pass."

On the injury front, neither Josh Morgan nor Dashon Goldson are likely to play in Buffalo. There's a chance Arnaz Battle could return. Allen Rossum's ankle still is being evaluated.

-- Matt Barrows

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Vegas Line: NFL Point Spreads For Week 13

Week Thirteen NFL Football Point Spread
NFL Spreads 11/27 - 12/1, 2008

Date & Time Favorite Spread Underdog
11/27 12:30 ET Tennessee -11 At Detroit
11/27 4:15 ET At Dallas -12.5 Seattle
11/27 8:15 ET At Philadelphia -3 Arizona
11/30 4:15 ET At NY Jets -7.5 Denver
11/30 1:00 ET At Buffalo -6.5 San Francisco
11/30 1:00 ET At Tampa Bay -4.5 New Orleans
11/30 1:00 ET At Green Bay -3 Carolina
11/30 1:00 ET NY Giants -3 At Washington
11/30 1:00 ET Miami -7.5 At St. Louis
11/30 1:00 ET Baltimore -6.5 At Cincinnati
11/30 1:00 ET Indianapolis -3.5 At Cleveland
11/30 4:05 ET At San Diego -4.5 Atlanta
11/30 4:15 ET At New England -1 Pittsburgh
11/30 4:15 ET At Oakland -3 Kansas City
11/30 8:15 ET At Minnesota -3.5 Chicago

Monday Night Football Point Spread

12/1 8:35 ET At Houston -3 Jacksonville

Owens Huge Days Helps Cowboys Top 49′ers 35-22

Posted by David Quinn

Tony Romo looked a little healthier on his way to another 300+ yards passing with three touchdowns and Terrell Owens had his best day receiving since 2000 with 7 catches for 213-yards and a score as Dallas defeated his former team, San Francisco at home today, 35-22. Rookie TE Martellus Bennett had another touchdown reception as did Patrick Crayton while Nick Folk was 4-for-4 on field goal tries, all over 40 yards.

San Francisco actually jumped out to an early 6-0 lead after two Joe Nedney field goals in the first quarter as 49?ers QB Shaun Hill connected with his receivers on two long pass plays on successive drives to get his team inside the red zone on their first two possessions. But Dallas’ defense would hold them out of the endzone on both occassions while waiting for the offense to get going. Romo and Owens finally got the offense sparked with their longest pass play of the season, a 75-yard catch-and-run early in the second quarter to get the Cowboys a 7-6 lead.

The special teams then kicked in and made some big plays stopping the Niners at their own 16-yard line where they would then get pushed back on back-to-back sacks by Spencer and Ware forcing a punt from their own endzone. Dallas’ Carlos Polk bust through the 49?ers line to block the punt out of the back of the endzone for a safety, the first blocked punt by the Cowboys since 2002! Polk also made the tackle on the previous kickoff that pinned the Niners.

The kick return team actually made several good plays in the first half of this game, but let down some in the second half allowing some good returns to the 49?ers as they were trying to get back into the game late in the third and fourth quarters, but overall a much better performance than usual by the special teams. In fact, on Dallas’ next series they were forced to punt after a holding penalty, but were able to down the ball inside the San Francisco one-yard line. The defense would hold them there and get the offense the ball back in great field position at the 49?ers 35-yard line. This led to a Folk 48-yard FG to get the lead up to 12-6.

Dallas got another big pass play from Terrell Owens, a 45-yard completion to get into 49?ers territory again, but the drive would stall soon afterwards leading to the second Nick Folk FG of 41-yards to get the score to 15-6. On the ensuing kick, Dallas again pinned the Niners deep at their own 19-yard line and quickly got a fumbled snap by Hill recovered by LB Zach Thomas. Thomas got up and returned the fumble for a touchdown, but the play was ruled down by contact and whistled dead at the point of recovery, although replay showed that he was clearly not touched by a 49?er! However such a call isn’t reviewable.

Dallas would get the score anyway on a short two-yard play-action pass to rookie TE Martellus Bennett to up the Dallas lead to 22-6 at the half.

The Cowboys would extend their lead to 29-9 after a 10-yard touchdown pass from Romo to Crayton in the third quarter but failed to completely put the Niners away as they marched 80-yards on five plays, greatly helped by two roughing-the-passer penalties against Dallas to cut the lead to 29-16. Dallas would get the following onside kick attempt inside the San Francisco 40-yard line and get another Nick Folk FG from 47-yards out to add to their lead, 35-16. Again, the 49?ers and Shaun Hill made quick work of the Dallas secondary and scored another time on a 12-yard pass to Isaac Bruce, who had a big day against the Cowboys defense, catching eight balls for 125-yards and a touchdown to get to the final 25-22 score after failing to convert the two-point try.

San Fran would attempt another onside kick, recovered by Marion Barber and the Cowboys would gain a couple of first downs by Barber and rookie RB Tashard Choice to run out the remainder of the game clock. San Francisco’s running game was basically non-existent with Frank Gore only managing to gain 26-yards, but with the Niners forced to play catch-up in the second half, he wasn’t much of a factor in the offense.

Dallas certainly did what they had to do and what they were expected to do against a weaker NFC foe, the 49?ers, and will hopefully carry some of the momentum gained from the past two wins into their annual Thanksgiving Day match-up with the struggling Seattle Seahawks, who are currently tied 10-10 with the Redskins in the third quarter of their game today.

T.O. Dominates in Cowboys Win over 49ers

By JAIME ARON, AP Sports Writer IRVING, Texas (AP) – With Tony Romo scrambling, Terrell Owens kept chugging down the sideline. Once the pass went up, Owens went to work. He caught the ball and turned upfield, getting pushed out of bounds after a 52-yard gain. Then he kept going, drawing more attention. With all eyes and TV cameras on him, Owens stretched his arms out to form a T, then curled them over his head to form an O. Yes, T.O. is back. And the Dallas Cowboys might be hitting their stride, too. Bottled up all season, and his frustration starting to show, Owens broke out with seven catches for 213 yards and the Dallas defense played great when it had to, helping the Cowboys beat the San Francisco 49ers 35-22 Sunday. They unleashed me today, Owens said, smiling. Dallas (7-4) has won consecutive games for the first time since starting 3-0. With sputtering Seattle coming to Texas Stadium on Thursday, the Cowboys could distance themselves even more from their recent 2-4 rut and could go steaming into December in prime position for a wild-card playoff berth. Thanks to this game, they also shouldn't have to worry about an uproar from Owens. T.O. had the second-most yards of his career, behind only the 283 he had for San Francisco when he caught an NFL-record 20 passes in 2000. It was the fourth-most in Cowboys history, the best in the NFL since Philadelphia's Kevin Curtis had 221 in September 2007 and tops by a Dallas player since Tony Hill had 213 against the Eagles in 1979. He's still got it, quarterback Tony Romo said. He's a fantastic player. To appreciate the significance of Owens' big day, consider the background: 13 games without cracking 100 yards, nothing more than 89 all season and 38 or fewer the past five games. Earlier this week, he told the NFL Network's Deion Sanders, It's not that I can't play, it's the system in which I'm in. Things were still out of synch at the start, with Romo's first three passes to Owens falling incomplete. One of them even hit Owens because he didn't turn to look for it quick enough. Then, early in the second quarter, he caught a deep pass between two defenders and bullied past them for a 75-yard touchdown, erasing a 6-0 deficit. His next catch went for 45 yards. Add in the 52-yarder and three of his five longest catches this season came in this game. I've been telling you guys all along, it's not anything wrong with me, said Owens, a few weeks shy of turning 35. Performance-wise, I can play. ... It showed. Everyone had a different theory about what unleashed Owens. Owens said there were some new wrinkles in the game plan and credited the offensive line with giving Romo more time. Romo said it was the 49ers giving Owens more room to roam, mainly by having cornerback Nate Clements play several yards off the line of scrimmage instead of jamming him during the first 5 yards. Nate can cover T.O.; he did not today, interim 49ers coach Mike Singletary said. I'm not going say that T.O. is the greatest wide receiver in the world. I think he does a heck of a job. When you're not playing smart that's going to happen. But I'm not going to say Nate can't cover him. San Francisco (3-8) was looking to build off its first win under Singletary. The 49ers certainly had their chances early, but the Dallas defense refused to buckle. San Francisco missed a 53-yard field goal on its opening drive, then reached first-and-goal from the 4 on its next two drives — yet managed only a pair of field goals. That 6-0 lead shriveled into a 29-6 deficit early in the third quarter. The 49ers trailed 32-9, getting only a field goal out of two more drives inside the Dallas 20, before finally getting into the end zone. Shaun Hill was 21-of-33 for 303 yards, but also was sacked four times, including consecutive plays inside the 20 in the first quarter. He threw a pair of late TD passes, to Isaac Bruce and DeShaun Foster. The Cowboys also limited Frank Gore to 26 yards on 14 carries and one catch for six yards. Romo was 23-of-39 for 341 yards and three touchdowns in his second game playing with a splint protecting a broken pinkie on his passing hand. He probably will need the protection for another game. I don't know if I could aggressively make the throws I made today without the splint on it, Romo said. It was still painful when I tried this week. Owens knew when he had 199 yards and told Romo he needed another catch. A slant came his way and he juggled it, but held on for a 14-yard gain. Owens got up triumphantly, clutching the ball as if he planned to keep it. He gestured toward the bench and accepted congratulations from Romo as the achievement was announced in the stadium. The demise of Terrell Owens, Dallas coach Wade Phillips said, was greatly exaggerated. Notes: San Francisco's game-opening formation forced Dallas LB Zach Thomas to the bench, ending a streak of 178 starts. ... The Cowboys blocked a punt for a safety for the first time since 1992. ... The 49ers lost return specialist Allen Rossum, a Dallas native, to an ankle injury. He went down without being touched waiting to catch a punt.

Kosier reinjures foot [Likely out Thursday]

by Tim MacMahon

OL Kyle Kosier injured his left foot again, which makes it puzzling that he spent most of the second half standing up on the sideline. We don't know the extent of the injury yet, but Jerry Jones said he seriously doubts Kosier will play Thursday against the Seahawks. That would be the eighth game he missed due to the foot this season.

Cowboys Move Closer to Playoff Berth

Source: KEX-AM Portland
Sunday, November 23, 2008

Tony Romo threw for 341 yards and three touchdowns in a 35-22 win over the San Francisco 49ers.

Irving, TX (Sports Network) - Tony Romo threw for 341 yards and three touchdowns on 23-of-39 passing as Dallas held off San Francisco, 35-22, at Texas Stadium.

Terrell Owens caught seven balls for 213 yards and a score for the Cowboys (7-4), who have won three of their last four games. Patrick Crayton and Martellus Bennett also registered touchdown receptions.

"It was an important win for us," said Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips. "The demise of Terrell Owens has been greatly exaggerated."

Shaun Hill completed 21-of-33 passes 303 yards, two scores and an interception for the 49ers (3-8), losers in seven of their last eight.

Isaac Bruce had eight catches for 125 yards and a touchdown, and DeShaun Foster added a TD catch for San Francisco, which was held to 26 yards rushing, all by Frank Gore, who did so on 14 carries.

The visitors had 1st-and-goal deep inside Dallas territory twice in the first quarter and came away with only six points after Joe Nedney hit from 23 and 22 yards.

"You work your offense down there. They're fighting and trying to make it happen but you know that's going to come back and bite you," noted 49ers head coach Mike Singletary.

Romo and Owens connected on a 75-yard touchdown pass on the next series after the second field goal and the Cowboys went ahead by one.

Hill was sacked twice on the 49ers next drive, and Carlos Polk blocked a punt through the back of the end zone for a Cowboys safety. Dallas didn't move the ball following the free kick, but held San Francisco to a three-and-out deep in its own territory.

Following a punt, Dallas got the ball on the 49ers 35-yard-line and Folk made a 48-yard field goal to complete the drive and Dallas led 12-6 with 7:23 to play in the half.

He then a hit 41-yarder with 3:02 remaining to up the lead to nine, then a fumble set the Cowboys up at the Niners' 19-yard-line, and Bennett's one-yard catch made it 22-6 and the lead held at the half.

Dallas opened the second half strongly, taking a 29-6 lead on a 10-yard Romo pass to Crayton.

Nedney added a 35-yarder to finish off the Niners following series for a 20-point game.

Folk's 47-yard field goal two plays into the fourth pushed the Cowboys lead to 32-9, but Hill connected with Bruce on an 18-yard scoring pass for a 32-16 game with 8:20 remaining.

Folk booted one from 42 yards out to cap the Cowboys' next drive for a 35-16 contest, but the visitors quickly countered on Foster's nine-yard TD reception. A conversion pass failed for a 13-point game with 3:46 to play.

The Cowboys ran off the remaining time thanks to a pair of rushing first downs by Marion Barber.

Game Notes

For Owens, it was his seventh career 200-yard receiving game. The last one occurred against the Chicago Bears on December 17, 2000 when he had 20 receptions...Romo became the first Dallas quarterback to reach 2,000 yards passing in three consecutive seasons since Troy Aikman from 1997-99...Barber gained 59 yards on 19 carries...San Francisco holds a 14-10-1 lead in the all- time series but Dallas has won three of the last four...Niners special teamer Allen Rossum left the game in the second quarter with a right ankle injury and did not return...The Cowboys host Seattle on Thanksgiving, while the 49ers travel to Buffalo next Sunday.

PFT: Short leash on Pacman per Mort

Posted by Mike Florio on November 23, 2008, 11:30 a.m.

Though he has been reinstated, Cowboys cornerback Pacman Jones faces some stringent restrictions on his ability to remain in the NFL.

The full scope of the dos and don’ts aren’t known, but Chris Mortensen of ESPN reports that Jones is required to continue intensive rehab and counseling on an out-patient basis, and that even the failure to attend one scheduled session would result in a lifetime banishment.

Jones is eligible to return to practice on Monday, and to play on December 7, at Pittsburgh.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

49ers-Cowboys: Final Injury Report

by Fooch on Nov 21, 2008 5:01 PM PST in News

The 49ers have posted their final injury report for Sunday and there's an interesting change to note out.

San Francisco 49ers
Probable: LB Patrick Willis (Hip), CB Tarell Brown (Neck), RB Michael Robinson (Stinger), FS Mark Roman (Groin), TE Delanie Walker (Shoulder), OT Barry Sims (Ankle)

Out: FS Dashon Goldson (Knee), WR Arnaz Battle (Foot), WR Josh Morgan (groin)

Dallas Cowboys
Probable: WR Isaiah Stanback (Shoulder), TE Jason Witten (Ribs), QB Tony Romo (Right Finger), LB Bobby Carpenter (Groin)

Questionable: CB Terence Newman (Groin), LB Justin Rogers (Back)

Out: WR Miles Austin (Knee), RB Felix Jones (Hamstring)

The biggest change is the addition of Terence Newman. Newman missed five weeks with a groin injury, but did manage to play last week at Washington snatching a big interception. Newman practiced Wednesday and yesterday but was a DNP today. If the Cowboys are a little cocky, maybe they'll think it's a game they should win so why not rest Newman. Anything to improve the matchup for Hill, right?

I'll throw up a more explanatory post next week, but the linked graphic below will take you to the central SB Nation hub for all things NFL. The network also has a similar hub for the race for the BCS Title. Enjoy.

Lewis has work cut out for him going against Witten

by John Crumpacker
Chronicle Staff Writer

Strong safety Michael Lewis has a big responsibility coming Sunday. Specifically, a 6-foot-5, 262-pound responsibility.

Lewis will be called on to cover Dallas tight end Jason Witten when he's involved in the passing game. And Witten is involved to the point where he leads the Cowboys in receiving and receiving yardage with 48 catches for 583 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

"This will probably be my hardest challenge this year," Lewis said. "He's a Pro Bowl guy. You've got to step up your game even more. They typically treat Witten on third down as a wide receiver."

In Texas, Witten is what they call a "big-un."

So big-un the 49ers will probably have linebacker Patrick Willis and maybe linebacker Manny Lawson help out in coverage on the rangy tight end.

"In a couple of our packages I'll be one-on-one with Jason," Lewis said. "He runs great routes. You could tell he works on his craft, his skills. He's fast. He's got deceptive speed and knows how to get open."

He averages 12.1 yards per catch, a mere half-yard less than a certain celebrated Cowboys' wide receiver.

"He's a key guy for them in that offense," Lewis said. "Having him in the game opens up other people in the offense. We're going to mix some things up, give him different looks. You have to know where he is at all times."

Poignant date: The 49ers happen to be in Dallas today on the 45th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

"Wow," coach Mike Singletary said when informed of the date. "That's really interesting. I remember what kind of day that was for the country, even as a kid."

Singletary, 50, was not quite 5 on Nov. 22, 1963.

No time for family: Although he has many family members in Texas, Houston-born and Baylor-educated Singletary said spending time with his family this weekend is "out of the question." He said he will see oldest daughter Kristin, a student at Baylor, but that's it.

"I've got a lot of extended family, but I've already told them we'll get together after the season," he said. "Some of you I'll see at Thanksgiving, but this is a business trip."

Back to work: Willis missed practice Wednesday with a strained hip and Thursday with an illness, but he worked Friday and will play against the Cowboys.

"He looks fine," Singletary said. "Probably couldn't have gotten him to rest as much as he has the past couple days. He needed to relax and rest a bit. It's good for him."

No announcement yet: Singletary stopped just short of saying rookie Chilo Rachal will start at right guard Sunday. At the very least, the second-round pick from USC will see more playing time than he has to this point.

"We're leaning towards him right now, but it'll be a game-time decision," the coach said. "I would say we're pretty sure in our minds."

Briefly: Wide receivers Arnaz Battle (foot) and Josh Morgan (groin) are out of this game, as is safety Dashon Goldson (knee). ... Cornerback Tarell Brown, who strained his neck against the Rams, is probable. ... Running back Michael Robinson, who sustained a stinger in the same game, appeared on the injury report Friday as probable for Dallas. ... Tackle Barry Sims, who missed the last two games with an ankle injury, returned to practice this week and will be active in a backup role at both tackle positions.

Cause for a pause: Cowboys' Romo's kindness becoming habit

Detroit News wire services

Quarterback Tony Romo hasn't won any Super Bowls, but he has won the hearts of Cowboys fans.

Romo, who earlier in the season pulled over and helped an elderly couple with a flat tire, performed some more humanitarian work this week, treating a homeless man to a movie.

This time a homeless man named Doc was cashing in some change at a move theatre in Dallas when a man approached him and offered to pay his way into the movie, the Dallas Morning News reported.

The man turned out to be Romo. Romo paid the man's admission for the movie "Role Models" and then waved the homeless man over to sit next to him and an unidentified friend. Doc mentioned to Romo that he hadn't showered for a few days.

"Don't worry about that," Romo said. "I'm used to locker rooms."

Doc was so overwhelmed by Romo's gesture that the called the newspaper.

"For me, it was a blessing," Doc said. "It came at just the right time. It gave me some encouragement and faith in mankind. I just wanted to say thank you."

NFL: 'Pacman' can practice Monday

The Associated Press

IRVING, Texas — The NFL confirmed Friday that suspended cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones can join the Dallas Cowboys on Monday and that he can play again Dec. 7 against Pittsburgh — but only if he stays on his best behavior.

Commissioner Roger Goodell issued a brief statement Friday confirming the details of Jones' return, noting that it can only happen "if he avoids any further incidents and fully complies with each and every condition that has been established for him."

Those conditions were not outlined, although it's believed that he must keep up with the aftercare of the alcohol rehabilitation program he underwent since being suspended Oct. 14.

The statement also noted that "Commissioner Goodell's decision was based on the recommendations of clinical experts."

Jones was suspended from the entire 2007 season because of repeated run-ins with the law. Traded to Dallas and given another chance by Goodell, Jones played six games before getting punished again. By missing the next two games, this will become a six-game penalty, making it 22 of a possible 28 games he'll have been forced to sit out.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones revealed the commissioner's decision Wednesday. The league office had been mum about the reinstatement until issuing a three-sentence release Friday afternoon.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Romo, Cowboys, Back Home vs. Niners

(Sports Network) - It has been six weeks since fans of the Dallas Cowboys have watched quarterback Tony Romo take the playing field at Texas Stadium. Needless to say, his presence in Sunday's Week 12 affair against the San Francisco 49ers will be a sight for those supporters' sore eyes.

When Romo walked off the field following Dallas' 31-22 win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Oct. 5, the Cowboys were a 4-1 football team still being discussed as one of the NFC's prime Super Bowl contenders.

But one week later, in the closing stages of a 30-24 overtime loss at Arizona, Romo suffered a broken pinkie finger on his throwing hand, helping precipitate a downward spiral from which some feared (or perhaps hoped) Wade Phillips's squad could not recover.

Dallas went just 1-2 in the three starts Romo missed, meaning the two-time Pro Bowler had one threatening mess to clean up when he made his return to the lineup at the Washington Redskins last week.

Romo exhibited some rust following the layoff, completing 19-of-27 passes for 198 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions while working a protective splint on his right hand, but his presence was enough to lift Dallas to a vital 14-10 road victory, a triumph that has the Cowboys being talked about as a dangerous team again.

Dallas enters Week 12 tied for second in the NFC East along with similarly 6-4 Washington, in the thick of the conference's Wild Card race but still three games behind the streaking Giants in the division.

The Cowboys will likely improve their postseason viability if they can prevail while serving as prohibitive favorites over San Francisco (3-7) and Seattle (2-8) over the next two weeks.

But first thing's first, and the 49ers don't figure to lay down in what was once a fierce NFC rivalry.

San Francisco pulled off the first win of the Mike Singletary era last week, outclassing the visiting St. Louis Rams, 35-16, just six days after taking the first-place Cardinals to the wire in a 29-24 road loss.

Niners quarterback Shaun Hill moved to 3-1 in his NFL starting career with the win, completing 15-of-20 passes for 213 yards with two touchdowns and no turnovers in the triumph. Hill has now posted a passer rating of better than 100 in four of six career appearances.

Running back Frank Gore also hit triple-digits to help fuel the win, rushing 18 times for 106 yards and a pair of scores.

The Niners enter Week 12 in sole possession of second-place in a soft NFC West, four games behind Arizona.


The 49ers own a 14-9-1 lead in their all-time regular season series with the Cowboys, but were 34-31 home losers in the most recent meeting, in 2005. San Francisco won the previous meeting, a 31-27 road triumph in 2002. The Cowboys last defeated the Niners at home in 2001.

In addition to the regular season series, the teams have an extensive history in the postseason, with Dallas owning a 5-2 lead in playoff games with San Francisco. The franchises have played six times for the NFC Championship, with the Cowboys earning the chance to go to the Super Bowl with wins over the Niners in 1970, 1971, 1992, and 1993, and the Niners downing "America's Team" in the 1981 and 1994 NFC Championship games. The 1981 win included the fabled last-second touchdown catch by San Francisco wideout Dwight Clark. The other playoff meeting between the franchises was a win for Dallas in a 1972 NFC Divisional Playoff.

Phillips is 1-2 in his career against the 49ers, including losses while he was at the helm of the Saints (1985) and Broncos (1993-94), and a win while serving as head coach of the Bills (1998-2000). The 49ers' Singletary will be meeting both Phillips and the Cowboys for the first time as a head coach.


What has set Hill (603 passing yards, 5 TD, 2 INT) apart in his three extended appearances this season, including a pair of starts, is that he has not been subject to the large number of turnovers and sacks that plagued predecessor J.T. O'Sullivan. Hill has thrown five touchdowns passes versus two picks in two-and-a-half games leading the offense, and last week completed an impressive 15-of-20 passes for two touchdowns, no interceptions, and just two sacks absorbed. Hill's touchdown passes went to wideout Bryant Johnson (23 receptions, 2 TD) and tight end Vernon Davis (18 receptions, 2 TD), who now has TDs in each of his past two games. Veteran Isaac Bruce (26 receptions) continues to lead the Niners in receiving yards (433) and touchdown catches (4), but has caught just three balls totaling 34 yards in Hill's two starts and hasn't gone for 50-plus receiving yards since September. Of course, the development of the passing game has been made easier by the strong running of Frank Gore (834 rushing yards, 35 receptions, 7 TD), who last week had his best rushing day since September. Gore continues to lead San Francisco in receptions as well.

Hill will be going up against a Dallas defense that ranks seventh in the NFL in pass defense (188 yards per game) and did a good job against the Redskins' Jason Campbell last Sunday. Outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware (55 tackles, 11 sacks) and lineman Jay Ratliff (31 tackles, 6 sacks) accounted for three sacks of Campbell in the game, while cornerback Terence Newman (16 tackles, 1 INT) came up with a rare interception of the former first-rounder. Washington wide receivers accounted for just 67 yards on the night. Still, the Cowboys continue to rank near the bottom of the league with just four interceptions on the year. The Cowboys have been hot-and-cold against the run this year, but held Clinton Portis in reasonable check with 68 yards on 15 carries last week. Inside linebackers Bradie James (65 tackles, 3 sacks) and Zach Thomas (70 tackles, 1 sack) combined for 14 tackles in the win, while Ratliff was credited with six stops from his spot on the interior.


After being somewhat cautious in the passing game against Washington, Romo (1887 passing yards, 15 TD, 7 INT) figures to open it up a bit more on Sunday with more time elapsed since his injury. That can only mean good things for the Cowboys' pass-catching corps of wideouts Terrell Owens (40 receptions, 6 TD) and Roy Williams (23 receptions, 2 TD) along with tight end Jason Witten (48 receptions, 2 TD). Owens hasn't posted as many as 40 receiving yards in his past five games, and has scored just one touchdown over that span. Witten has battled a rib injury, and came up with just two receptions totaling 34 yards in Washington. The Cowboys' leading receiver against the Redskins was also its overall offensive star, as running back Marion Barber (779 rushing yards, 39 receptions, 8 TD) caught a team-best six passes for 39 yards to go along with a hard-nosed 24-carry, 114-yard rushing effort. All but 31 of Barber's rushing yards came in the decisive fourth quarter. Rookie change-of- pace running back Felix Jones (266 rushing yards, 3 TD), who has missed four games with a hamstring injury, is not expected to return on Sunday.

The 49ers enter Week 12 ranked just 21st in NFL total defense (341.7 yards per game), and will have to cover up their deficiencies by trying to make big plays against Romo and company. The Niners posted four sacks and forced three Marc Bulger turnovers last Sunday against St. Louis, helping disguise the fact that the Rams amassed more than 400 yards of total offense. Cornerbacks Walt Harris (40 tackles, 2 INT, 1 sack) and Nate Clements (38 tackles, 2 INT) both had interceptions of Bulger, while outside linebackers Parys Haralson (20 tackles, 4.5 sacks) and Manny Lawson (24 tackles, 2 sacks) each brought him down for sacks. The group seeking to contain Barber on Sunday comes off a week in which it allowed Rams backups Antonio Pittman and Kenneth Darby to combine for 121 yards on just 21 carries. Linebackers Patrick Willis (90 tackles, 1 INT, 1 sack) and Takeo Spikes (60 tackles, 3 INT), along with strong safety Michael Lewis (59 tackles, 2 sacks), have been San Francisco's most dependable run-stoppers, while end Justin Smith (50 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 INT) leads the team's linemen in stops.


Gore continues to produce from a fantasy standpoint, and tight end Davis has begun scoring touchdowns with regularity, so start both. Elsewhere on the 49ers, the team hasn't had a consistent every-week receiver, and Hill is not a good choice against a Cowboys team that can get after the quarterback. Kicker Joe Nedney is worth considering, but the 49ers defense is not.

Romo got the Cowboys a win last week, but he didn't do the same for many fantasy owners hopeful he'd revert back to his prolific ways. With a more favorable matchup this week, there's a chance he'll look like the old Romo, and that figures to be a good thing for Owens, Witten, and perhaps even new No. 2 wideout Roy Williams. Owners were heartened to see a bounce-back effort from Marion Barber last week, and Barber has once again earned must-start status. The Cowboys have kicked the fewest field goals in the league, so leave kicker Nick Folk on the bench or waiver wire, but give a look to a Dallas defense that will be playing against an opponent that has committed the most turnovers in the league.


When Jerry Jones said publicly that his team would make the playoffs, you better believe part of his math involved the Cowboys taking care of the 49ers and Seahawks at home over the next two Sundays. For all its troubles of the past month-plus, Dallas still has a great deal of talent, and with Romo back in the fold, is ready to look like the team the world saw running up and down the field over the first three weeks of 2008. Meanwhile, the 49ers and their head coach are still a big-time work in progress that isn't ready to seriously test a high-quality opponent like the Cowboys in a road environment. Look for Dallas to keep the Niners at arm's length throughout.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cowboys 34, 49ers 13

Player Update: Jason Witten-TE

Jason Witten (probable, ribs) returned to a full practice on Friday.

He will start Sunday versus San Francisco. Witten should get better soon, but has caught only three passes for 46 yards since the Cowboys' Week 7 game.

Player Update: Terence Newman-DB

Cowboys CB Terence Newman missed Friday's practice with a groin injury and is uncertain to play in Week 12 against San Francisco.

In a pretty winnable game at home the Cowboys may play it safe with their top corner and hold him out, which would improve Shaun Hill's matchup. If Newman doesn't go, Mike Jenkins and Anthony Henry will start outside.
Source: Dallas Morning News

Let the Bill Cowher speculation begin (again)

by Barry Horn

Over at The Big Lead, dubbed one of the 15 finest sports blogs in the country by some tony publication whose name I can't recall, they are asking this question: Most Likely Spot for Bill Cowher in 2009?

You get the feeling the Big Leaders, who specialize in sports media, don't think Cowher will stay on CBS' "overcrowded NFL Today set."

Here are the 8 places the Big Leaders mention as possible next stops for Cowher: Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, San Diego, Oakland, Philadelphia, St. Louis, San Francisco.

There should be a ninth. Missing, of course, is the most obvious, assuming the Cowboys don't win the Super Bowl and Jerry Jones still intends to sell most of the seats in his new mega-stadium. Arlington is a natural fit, isn't it?

DMN Blog: Jerry Jones not worried about T.O.'s mindset

by Brian Davis

Owner Jerry Jones said he had not seen the sure-to-become infamous NFL Network interview with Terrell Owens last night. I doubt he queued it up on this here blog, too.

Anyway, Jones said he has no issues with Owens' competitiveness. And he doesn't worry if T.O.'s passive-aggressive stance affects the locker room.

"There's so much made of this impact," Jones said. "What impacts these players is playing and how you play and how you practice. It impacts us all when we aren't successful.

"All this stuff that we're tired about comments or attitude, that's not even 1 percent of it. I don't spend any time worrying about that kind of stuff. It's not an issue with me. I make no decision around here based upon people getting sensitive about what somebody else is saying."