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Horse Collaring a Pro Bowl Berth and a New Number

During the past two weeks, I crossed a state border a total of eight times (Texas to Oklahoma to Missouri to Illinois to Missouri to Iowa to Missouri to Kansas to Oklahoma to Texas). Great [emphasis] relaxing [emphasis] Christmas break. The Cowboys made my trip at little easier by beating Carolina, and the Bears made it much, much easier by taking care of Green Bay, thus giving the Cowboys home field advantage. Then came last week’s loss to the Redskins, leading me to spend 18 hours in the car worrying about what might happen in a week and a half against a team to be named later. Blah.

In the short time that I had limited ability to update, we’ve had a bit of news at Valley Ranch.

1. Bill Parcells hired Jeff Ireland to be general manager of the Miami Dolphins. Ireland’s most recent position with the Cowboys was as vice president of college and pro scouting.

2. Earlier today, the Dolphins fired head coach Cam Cameron (who, if you recall, was offensive coordinator at San Diego at the same time that Wade Philllips was the Chargers’ defensive coordinator). Reports now say that the Dolphins are looking at Dallas assistant head coach Tony Sparano to be their next head coach.

3. Tuesday marks the one-year anniversary of me concluding that Bill Parcells was an ineffective has-been. This year I think he’s a jackass.

Roy Williams

Our favorite strong safety who needs to improve his coverage and tackling skills, Roy Williams, had announced that he will change jersey numbers from 31 to 38, which he wore in college.

The story:

Eight is great for Cowboys safety Roy Williams. Well, 38, to be exact.

Williams said Thursday he would change his uniform number back to the one he wore as a standout at the University of Oklahoma beginning next season. Williams wore a No. 38 practice jersey during Wednesday’s workouts, prompting questions from the media on Thursday about why he wasn’t wearing his usual No. 31 jersey.

“What number change?” Williams teased before admitting that the change had been a long time coming for him.

When Williams first arrived as a rookie at Valley Ranch in 2002 he had to take No. 31 because cornerback Duane Hawthorne had No. 38. Williams could have had the number if he paid Hawthorne $20,000 – a move Williams didn’t want to make. Hawthorne left the team at the end of the 2002 season and safety Lynn Scott wore the number off and on through 2005. Since then, No. 38 has been available for any Cowboys player, allowing Williams to make the switch.

“I’ve always been wanting to change my number to that,” Williams said.

The number change isn’t just a throwback to Williams’ college days. It’s also rooted in the Bible, according to the safety.

“Eight in the bible is regarded as a new beginning, and I feel that after this season it’s time to switch over,” Williams said. “Switch to No. 38.”

Williams said he had talked to his pastor Rickie G. Rush at the Inspiring Body of Christ, a nondenominational church located in Dallas, telling him what he wanted to do.

Another factor in delaying the number change to next year, according to Williams, is not wanting Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to lose money on the large inventory of No. 31 jerseys in the marketplace.

“It was kind of helping out Jerry, so he wouldn’t lose money in the whole deal,” Williams said.

The same safety, who needs to improve his coverage and tackling skills, was also named to the NFC Pro Bowl roster. Yes, that Pro Bowl.

The records keep falling for these Cowboys, even though the team is in the middle of a bye week. Safety Roy Williams was named to his fifth Pro Bowl Thursday when the league chose him to fill the spot created by the death of Redskins safety Sean Taylor.

Williams’ selection makes him the 12th Cowboys player named to the NFC squad – a team record. The Cowboys had 11 Pro Bowlers in 1993 and 1994.

Williams called the selection a blessing and said it’s an honor to be going in place of Taylor.

“If Sean was still here I wouldn’t be going, and I appreciate even being the first alternate to go,” Williams said.

Williams said he would do something special for Taylor’s family before the Pro Bowl as a way of showing his respects but didn’t elaborate on the plans. He also said the NFC Pro Bowlers on defense will honor Taylor’s memory, but didn’t say what it would be.

Cowboys safety Ken Hamlin will move up to the starting spot and Williams is now the backup. The Vikings’ Darren Sharper is the other starter for the NFC.

Let’s review: Coverage. Tackling. No horse collar. And congrats otherwise.

A Nutshell Version of the Dallas Cowboys in the Year 2007

BallHype: hype it up!On New Year’s Eve on 2006, the Cowboys suffered an awful 39-31 loss to the 2-13 Detroit Lions. The loss dropped the Cowboys to 9-7 for the 2006 regular season, good enough to qualify the Cowboys for the playoffs. The year that began the next day was an eventful one. Below is an attempt to highlight those events.

January

January 6

The Cowboys blew an opportunity for a playoff win when Tony Romo dropped a snap while holding for a field goal that would have given the Cowboys a 23-21 lead at Seattle with less than two minutes remaining. It led to one of the longest offseasons that we’ve had in a while.

Collapse, and Season Over: Seattle 21, Dallas 20

January 22

After a few weeks of criticism directed at Bill Parcells, the Big Tuna put an end to the complaining by retir… er, resigning as head coach after four seasons as head coach of the Cowboys.

No More Tuna Bashing

End of January

The Cowboys considered a number of candidates for their head coaching position, including Mike Singletary, Norv Turner, Gary Gibbs, Dan Reeves, and Wade Phillips. Dallas also brought in former quarterback Jason Garrett as offensive coordinator, even before the team announced a head coach. Curious decisions…

No More Yankee Coaches! And No More from Georgia, Either!

February

February 9

The Cowboys chose to hire Phillips as their coach less than a week after the Super Bowl. Phillips had been defensive coordinator with San Diego and had previous head coaching experience at Buffalo. It was regarded as a safe choice.

Surely We Can’t Go Wrong with a Texas Native. Right?

February 25

Of the dozens (seems more like thousands) of mock drafts on the Internet, the player that many expected the Cowboys to pick was Texas lineman Justin Blalock. A player that did not show up was Anthony Spencer of Purdue.

Mock Draft Index Update: Blalock Still the Overall Choice

March

March 5

Dallas took a chance in free agency by signing Arizona G/T Leonard Davis to a 7-year, $49.6 million contract.

Cowboys Sign Leonard Davis, Martin Gramatica (DallasCowboys.com)

March 23

The Cowboys made a big signing on the defensive side of the ball, obtaining safety Ken Hamlin from the Seahawks.

Cowboys Sign Hamlin; News Conference Scheduled (DallasCowboys.com)

April

April 28

The Cowboys engaged in some wheeling and dealing on draft day. They first gave the 22nd pick to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for a second rounder in 2007 and a first rounder in 2008. Dallas then turned around and obtained the #26 pick from the Eagles. With this pick, Dallas obtained Anthony Spencer, an outside linebacker from Purdue.

The complete draft:

LB Anthony Spencer
T James Marten
WR Isaiah Stanback
T Doug Free
K Nick Folk
FB Deon Anderson
CB Courtney Brown
CB Alan Ball

Grades for this draft varied significantly. Those who thought that the draft went well pointed to the fact that Dallas picked up Cleveland’s first overall pick in 2008. The assumption there was that the Cowboys manged to obtain a top five selection. Others thought that the Cowboys had blown it by not taking a receiver.

Grading the Dallas Cowboys 2007 Draft (OTB Sports)

May

May 30

North Texas got some good news at the end of May when the NFL announced that Super Bowl XLV would be held at the Cowboys’ new stadium in 2011.

North Texas Gets Super Bowl (Dallas Morning News)

June-July

The Cowboys’ training camp for the 2007 season opened in San Antonio at the end of July. Many eyes were on Wade Phillips to see if he could fix the Dallas defense.

Cowboys Training Camp Preview (Dallas Morning News)

August

The Cowboys won their first two preseason games, looking sharp in both of them. However, the team struggled in its last two.

Three key injuries caused significant concerns:

LB Greg Ellis— Ellis had suffered an Achilles injury in 2006 and missed half of the season. It did not appear that he would be back for the opener in 2007.

Ranking Greg Ellis with the Best Defensive Ends in Team History

WR Terry Glenn— Glenn suffered a knee injury and required surgery. His return was delayed several times throughout the regular season, and he appeared in only one game.

CB Terence Newman— Newman suffered a heel injury that left him out of the first month of the season.

September

The Cowboys won each of their games in September, including the season opener against division rival New York Giants. The Cowboys scored at least 30 points in each of these games, as the team enjoyed its best start in more than a decade.

Week 1: Dallas 45, N.Y. Giants 35: Nervous Moments, but a Great Win

Week 2: Dallas 37, Miami 20: The Big Plays and Points Continue

Week 3: Dallas 34, Chicago 10: These Cowboys Ain’t Bad

Week 4: Dallas 35, St. Louis 7: Second Half Domination Continues

October

The Cowboys faced some difficult challenges during the month of October. After a come-from-behind, last-second victory over Buffalo, Dallas showed that it did not quite have the firepower to put away the New England Patriots. Dallas managed a win over Minnesota before the bye week, though, so the Cowboys were 6-1 by the end of the month.

More good news came in the return of Newman and Ellis to the lineup, strengthening a defense that had been a little bit shaky in the first few weeks.

Week 5: Dallas 25, Buffalo 24: Oh, My God

Week 6: New England 48, Dallas 27: Playing in a Different League

Week 7: Cowboys 24, Minnesota 14: Thanks to Some Unsung Heroes

(Week 8 was a bye week)

November

The month of November looked awfully tough, with the Cowboys facing three consecutive division opponents, as well as the Green Bay Packers. Dallas asserted its dominance by beating all four teams, in addition to the New York Jets on Thanksgiving Day.

Week 9: Cowboys 38, Eagles 17: Surprisingly Dominant

Week 10: Cowboys 31, Giants 20: We Can Survive Even Stupidity

Week 11: Cowboys 28, Redskins 23: And We Can Win Ugly

Week 12: Cowboys 34, N.Y. Jets 3: Bring on the Pack

Week 13: Cowboys 37, Packers 27: A Very Fortunate Win

December

The month of December in general has not been good to Dallas this decade, and December 2007 was really no different. The Cowboys needed a couple of wins to clinch home field advantage, and the Cowboys got those couple of victories, though not in the manner that most would have liked. Nevertheless, the team wrapped up one of the most successful regular seasons in franchise history, finishing 13-3 and winning the NFC East.

Week 14: Cowboys 28, Lions 27. Video: The Final 2:26

Week 15: Philadelphia 10, Dallas 6: All Out of Miracles

Week 16: Cowboys 20, Panthers 13: Feels Better Than a High Ankle Sprain

Week 17: Washington 27, Dallas 6: Good Thing This One Didn’t Matter. Right?

* * *

Some people don’t like Mickey Spagnola’s reporting, largely because he is a clue employee. I think he does a great job. His piece yesterday, Here Comes the Falling Sky, is very, very good.

Not only is “that game over with,” so is the regular season. Wipe the slate clean. That is the beauty of the playoffs. The regular season only allows you to qualify for the playoffs. The regular season only sets you up in the playoffs. But the regular season assures nothing. The meek can inherit.

Everyone starts from scratch. You know what, 16-0 doesn’t matter one bit. That doesn’t spot you seven points in your first playoff game. The next two best records in the NFL, the 13-3 records of the Cowboys and Packers, don’t win you a darn thing. Neither does 9-7.

Now it’s simple: Win or go home.

Ask yourself this: If the Cowboys had beaten the Redskins and other than finishing 14-2, what would that have mattered heading into the playoffs? What would have changed?

Confidence? From beating no more than an 8-8 team?

Momentum? Meaning winning your last two games means more than the seven straight you already had won or the five straight before losing to New England, your only other loss this season?

Aw, phooey.

If that’s the case, then New England, Indy, San Diego and Washington should be the Super Bowl favorites. Let’s see. Pittsburgh has lost three of its last four; Tampa Bay three of its last four; the Giants two of their last three; the Seahawks two of their last three; the Titans but .500 over the final eight; and the Packers and Jaguars have gone 3-2 over the last five, as have the Cowboys.

Few are “streaking” into the playoffs.

Washington 27, Dallas 6: Good Thing This One Didn’t Matter. Right?

Tony Romo

Let’s get the bad out of the way:

* The Cowboys managed a total of one yard rushing. Marion Barber entered the game needing 19 yard to surpass 1,000 for the season. He finished with negative 6.

* Tony Romo played the entire first half plus a drive in the third quarter. He was not sharp. He was also nearly injured on the final play of the first half on an attempted Hail Mary when he was sacked.

* Roy Williams missed tackles.

* Roy Williams was a liability in coverage.

* Roy Williams is just awful right now.

* Terry Glenn reinjured his knee in the first quarter. The other receivers had a difficult time getting separation. We need Terrell Owens, badly.

* No team in team history has lost its final game and still went on to appear in a Super Bowl. Unless this was just a matter of the team taking a game off, this year won’t be any different.

No, I do not think that this game is now meaningful because the Cowboys lost. However, the team has no momentum at all now that we wait two weeks to see if everyone heals and to see who we play.

Dallas was not the only playoff team to lose today. Both Tampa Bay and Seattle fell to lesser opponents (Carolina and Atlanta, respectively). The Giants, of course, lost to New England on Saturday. Pittsburgh and Jacksonville also suffered defeats today. On the other hand, none of those teams apparently looked quite as inept as Dallas did.

* * *

Recent History Lesson

A few things to consider regarding team performances late in the season:

* Chicago tanked its final game of 2006 in a 26-7 loss to division rival Green Bay. It dropped the Bears to 13-3, but they were able to record wins against Seattle and New Orleans to advance.

* Indianapolis won three of its final five last year before winning four playoff games en route to the title.

* Seattle also lost its regular season finale in 2005 to drop to 13-3. The Seahawks then won two home playoff games to move on to the Super Bowl.

* Philadelphia in 2004 dropped its final two games, including a 38-10 drubbing at the hands of the Bengals, to finish the regular season at 13-3. The Eagles then won two straight home games to advance to the Super Bowl.

THUS, the past three NFC champions have lost their season finales to finish with 13-3 records. All three had home field advantage, and all advanced to the Super Bowl.

[And then lost, but that is another matter]

* * *

1990s Dynasty History

Just for the sake of perspective, here are some facts about the Cowboys’ dynasty years of 1992 through 1996.

1992: Dallas finished the season with wins over Atlanta (41-17) and Chicago (27-14) to go 13-3. The Cowboys went on to win Super Bowl XXVII.

1993: Dallas wrapped up home field advantage with an overtime win at New York in Emmitt Smith’s famous performance with a separated shoulder. Three wins after that and the Cowboys were back-to-back champions.

1994: Dallas had a lackluster performance at New York in the final week, losing 15-10 without Emmitt Smith, who had suffered a hamstring injury. Dallas beat Green Bay in the divisional round, so the loss did not have a direct effect on the playoffs, but the Cowboys lost in the NFC Championship Game to San Francisco.

1995: The Cowboys recorded a 37-13 rout of the Cardinals to give Dallas momentum heading into the playoffs. The Cowboys won Super Bowl XXX that season.

1996: Dallas played a meaningless game at Washington in 1996 that was rather similar to the one played this Sunday. The 10-5 Cowboys had wrapped up the NFC East title and sat their starters, knowing that they would play in the Wildcard round the following week. The Cowboys suffered a 37-10 blowout at Washington but still won their first playoff game, 40-15 vs. Minnesota. That was, as you probably know, the most recent playoff win that Dallas has had.

* * *

Playoff Picture

If you are not familiar with it, here is the playoff picture for the Cowboys. The playoff seeds are as follows:

#3 Seattle
#4 Tampa Bay
#5 N.Y. Giants
#6 Washington

Washington plays at Seattle, while the Giants play at Tampa Bay.

If Washington wins, the Cowboys will host the Redskins in two weeks.

If Seattle wins, then Dallas hosts the winner of Tampa Bay and New York.

Preview: Cowboys vs. Redskins

dallas cowboysFive Cowboys are going to sit out of Sunday’s game against Washington, including Terrell Owens, Terence Newman, Andre Gurode, Pat Watkins, and Jay Ratliff. And even though Terry Glenn is expected to make an appearance, Tony Romo probably will not play much, if at all.BallHype: hype it up!

For these reasons, along with the fact that Dallas has nothing to gain with a win and Washington has everything to lose with a loss, Dallas is a pretty big underdog. Here is a preview, even if there is little reason to have confidence in the Cowboys tomorrow.

AccuScore

AccuScore assumes that Dallas will rest quite a number of starters, and so the simulation favored the Redskins heavily. According to the site, Washington won 71% of those 10,000 simulations. More:

Terrell Owens is out and simulations assume that Tony Romo, Marion Barber and Jason Witten will see limited action. With the Cowboys resting offensive and defensive starters the Redskins have a 71 percent chance of making the playoffs. Todd Collins is having a great game with a simulation passer rating over 100. Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts are only averaging 3.7 ypc, but they are getting the yards needed on 3rd down to control time of possession and they combine for 110 yards per sim. The Redskins are converting on 3rd down at nearly 45 percent vs just 34 percent for the Cowboys. If these teams meet in the playoffs the outcome will definitely be different, but for now look for Washington to get the big win.

What If Sports

Similar results in the What If Sports simulations, where the Redskins won 59 percent of the games by an average score of 19 to 12.

Pigskin Pick’em: Washington favored by 8 1/2

Of the experts at ESPN, only Mike Golic thinks that Dallas will pull out the victory against the Redskins. The preview:

This matchup means nothing for the Cowboys, the top seed in the NFC. The Redskins need a win badly, as they can clinch the final playoff spot in the NFC. Dallas won the first meeting of 2007, 28-23 on Nov. 18. Tony Romo threw four TD passes and the Cowboys outscored the Redskins, 14-10 in the fourth quarter.

* * *

Absolutely nobody paid a bit of attention to the trivia questions. Events such as this fortunately haven’t prevented me from keeping this blog alive. If you are at all curious, here are the answers:

Trivia, Part 1

1. Did you know . . .? Sports Illustrated in 2005 rated Cowboys-Redskins as the #1 rivalry in the N.F.L.

True.

2. The Cowboys ended the 1996 season by traveling to Washington for the final game played at RFK Stadium. Dallas lost 37-10. Who scored the only touchdown for the Cowboys that day?

Herschel Walker

3a. In 1983, the Cowboys opened the season at Washington, coming from way behind to win 31-30. What was the score of the game at halftime?

23-3

3b: Which receiver caught two touchdown passes of more than 50 yards each?

Tony Hill

3c: Who score the go-ahead touchdown with 2:25 remaining in the game?

Danny White

4. Rocket Ismail caught the game-winning pass in overtime of the Cowboys’ 41-35 win on opening day of 1999. For which team did Ismail play during the 1998 season?

Carolina Panthers

5. In 1971, the Cowboys shut out the Redskins 13-0 at Washington. Which former Green Bay receiver led both teams in receiving yards that game?

Boyd Dowler

6. During which consecutive seasons did Dallas open at Washington, winning both games?

1980 and 1981

Trivia, Part 2

1. The first starting quarterback in Dallas history was a former starter for the Redskins.

Eddie LaBaron

2. This highly talented cornerback was the focal point of the Dallas defense for the latter half of the 1990s, but he had lost a few steps by the time he joined the Redskins in 2000.

Deion Sanders

3. This former 1,000-yard rusher for the Cowboys in the early 1970s played for Washington in 1976 and 1977. [Hint: He has a well-known son who plays pro basketball]

Calvin Hill

4. The current Dallas backup quarterback was a starter for the Redskins in 1999 and 2000.

Brad Johnson

5. This former Jet was a backup in Dallas in 2006 before joining the Redskins in 2007.

Jason Fabini

6. This Washington linebacker was the second round pick of the Cowboys in 1996.

Randall Godfrey

7. This former seventh round pick (1997) for the Cowboys now plays safety for the Redskins.

Omar Stoutmire

8. This defensive end of the Redskins was originally signed as a free agent by Dallas in 2001.

Demetric Evans

9. This linebacker from Illinois played for Dallas in 1991 and 1994 before playing two seasons with the Redskins in 1995 and 1996.

Derrick Brownlow

10. This kicker, who has played for eight different teams, played for Washington in 2002 and Dallas in 2005.

Jose Cortez

11. This defensive end played for Dallas in its inaugural season of 1960 before spending two seasons with Washington.

Gene Cronin

12. This tight end was a 13th round selection by Dallas in 1972 and played for the Cowboys for four seasons. He spent his last four seasons with the Redskins.

Jean Fugett

13. This tight end played a total of three seasons with Dallas (1993-94, 1997), along with two in Washington. He was originally selected by the Browns in the 1990 draft.

Scott Galbraith

14. This guard started for the Cowboys in the early 1990s before signing with the Redskins in 1994, where he played center.

John Gesek

15. This one-time backup quarterback for the Cowboys was originally a sixth-round pick of the Redskins in 1983.

Babe Laufenberg

16. This former Dallas linebacker, a first-round pick, played for the Redskins in 2001.

Robert Jones

17. This kicker, who played for Dallas in 1993 and 1999, also kicked for the Redskins at one time.

Eddie Murray

18. This linebacker, a draft choice of the L.A. Rams in 1988, played for both the Cowboys and Redskins in the late 1990s.

Fred Strickland

19. This defensive end was a fourth-round pick of the Cowboys in 1999 who later played one season with the Redskins.

Peppi Zellner

20. This backup linebacker played for Dallas in 1993 and 1994 before spending two seasons in Washington.

Matt Vanderbeek

More Cowboys-Redskins Trivia: Players Common to Both Teams

BallHype: hype it up!Here are some trivia questions of a different variety, focusing on players who have played for both the Cowboys and the Redskins at some points in their careers. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but some of the players are pretty obscure. I’ll try to help by dividing the players by difficulty in recognizing them. For each description, try to name the player.

Fairly Easy

1. The first starting quarterback in Dallas history was a former starter for the Redskins.

2. This highly talented cornerback was the focal point of the Dallas defense for the latter half of the 1990s, but he had lost a few steps by the time he joined the Redskins in 2000.

3. This former 1,000-yard rusher for the Cowboys in the early 1970s played for Washington in 1976 and 1977. [Hint: He has a well-known son who plays pro basketball]

Current Players

4. The current Dallas backup quarterback was a starter for the Redskins in 1999 and 2000.

5. This former Jet was a backup in Dallas in 2006 before joining the Redskins in 2007.

6. This Washington linebacker was the second round pick of the Cowboys in 1996.

7. This former seventh round pick (1997) for the Cowboys now plays safety for the Redskins.

8. This defensive end of the Redskins was originally signed as a free agent by Dallas in 2001.

Not Quite Easy

9. This linebacker from Illinois played for Dallas in 1991 and 1994 before playing two seasons with the Redskins in 1995 and 1996.

10. This kicker, who has played for eight different teams, played for Washington in 2002 and Dallas in 2005.

11. This defensive end played for Dallas in its inaugural season of 1960 before spending two seasons with Washington.

12. This tight end was a 13th round selection by Dallas in 1972 and played for the Cowboys for four seasons. He spent his last four seasons with the Redskins.

13. This tight end played a total of three seasons with Dallas (1993-94, 1997), along with two in Washington. He was originally selected by the Browns in the 1990 draft.

14. This guard started for the Cowboys in the early 1990s before signing with the Redskins in 1994, where he played center.

15. This one-time backup quarterback for the Cowboys was originally a sixth-round pick of the Redskins in 1983.

16. This former Dallas linebacker, a first-round pick, played for the Redskins in 2001.

17. This kicker, who played for Dallas in 1993 and 1999, also kicked for the Redskins at one time.

18. This linebacker, a draft choice of the L.A. Rams in 1988, played for both the Cowboys and Redskins in the late 1990s.

19. This defensive end was a fourth-round pick of the Cowboys in 1999 who later played one season with the Redskins.

20. This backup linebacker played for Dallas in 1993 and 1994 before spending two seasons in Washington.

Cowboys-Redskins Facts and Trivia Questions

This is usually the day that I post questions waiting for answers, but the only question I would consider asking is what players are going to participate in Sunday’s game? We’ll find out soon enough.

In lieu of that, below are some trivia items about the Cowboys-Redskins rivalry.

1. Did you know . . .? Sports Illustrated in 2005 rated Cowboys-Redskins as the #1 rivalry in the N.F.L.

2. The Cowboys ended the 1996 season by traveling to Washington for the final game played at RFK Stadium. Dallas lost 37-10. Who scored the only touchdown for the Cowboys that day?

3a. In 1983, the Cowboys opened the season at Washington, coming from way behind to win 31-30. What was the score of the game at halftime?

3b: Which receiver caught two touchdown passes of more than 50 yards each?

3c: Who score the go-ahead touchdown with 2:25 remaining in the game?

4. Rocket Ismail caught the game-winning pass in overtime of the Cowboys’ 41-35 win on opening day of 1999. For which team did Ismail play during the 1998 season?

5. In 1971, the Cowboys shut out the Redskins 13-0 at Washington. Which former Green Bay receiver led both teams in receiving yards that game?

6. During which consecutive seasons did Dallas open at Washington, winning both games?

Video: Cowboys-Redskins Rivalry

Here is a great Cowboys-friendly video about the Cowboys-Redskins rivalry.

* * *

Pigskin Pick’em

Slightly better week for Pick’em:

Week 15: 7/16
Season: 120/240
Average: 116/240
Best: 149/240

New rule of thumb #1: Take New England unless the Patriots are picked by more than 20 points.

New rule of thumb #2: Realize that if Dallas is more than a 10 point favorite in December, you are likely to lose (noting here that we never pick against Dallas, no matter what the circumstances. . . ).

We’ve Got Home Field Answers

The single question last week asked what the biggest question of the week was. The questions were:

1. Can the Cowboys overcome the offensive implosion from last week’s game?
2. Is Tony Romo’s thumb going to continue to cause problems in the passing game?
3. Will the Daisy Duke/T.O. spat cause tensions that the Cowboys will have trouble overcoming?
4. Will Roy Williams’ suspension cause problems on defense… or perhaps resolve them?
5. Can the Cowboys regain their momentum in general?

The responses:

1. Offensive implosion (3.4% / 1 votes)
2. Romo’s thumb (31% / 9 votes)
3. Daisy Duke/T.O. spat (6.9% / 2 votes)
4. Roy Williams (6.9% / 2 votes)
5. Momentum in general (51.7% / 15 votes)

And the answers to each of these questions:

1. The offense managed 405 yards, including 148 rushing yards. Hardly a sign of an offensive implosion, though many of those yards came prior to Terrell Owens’ injury.

2. Romo dropped the first snap and overthrew a few passes in the first half. But his final stats– 28 of 42 for 257 yards, 1 TD, and 1 Int.– were solid even if his thumb may have been sore.

3. T.O. was clearly joking when he made the comment. End of that story.

4. Keith Davis didn’t have a 15-yard penalty all evening, so that’s an improvement. I’m not sure if Davis had much to do with the coverage of Steve Smith, but it did not appear as if the Panthers picked on Davis. In sum, I don’t think we missed Williams– though he could really help on kickoff coverage.

5. This win was huge. I’d like to see a win against the Redskins, but the Cowboys have shown on a number of occasions that they can pull out wins when they aren’t playing at full force. Dallas will be fully rested and, I think, confident once the divisional round of the playoffs roll around in a few weeks.

Instant Scratch-Off Trivia: An Abbreviated Christmas Eve Edition

Merry Christmas to everyone. Most of the talk surrounding the Cowboys has focused on: (1) how much effort the Cowboys should put into winning next Sunday’s game against Washington; (2) how much playing time can we expect to see from Tony Romo and other starters; (3) whether Terry Glenn can have an impact when he returns; and (4) a lot of talk for talking sake. There’s plenty of time to discuss all of this, so I’ll make this short.

Question #1: How many points do the Cowboys need next Sunday against Washington to break the franchise record for points in a season?


Get Your Own Scratch

A side note: the Cowboys twice averaged more than 30 points per game when the length of the season was 14 games: 1966, 31.8 points per game (445 total) and 1968, 30.8 points per game (431 total).

Question #2: When was the last time that the Cowboys ended the regular season by playing at Washington?


Get Your Own Scratch

* * *

This blog isn’t known for much, other than the 1986 Christmas video perhaps. Almost has to become an annual deal to post it here.

[display_podcast]

A Thank You Note to Chicago

I’m not sure whether to thank the Chicago Bears or the Chicago weather, but either way, the Cowboys secured home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs with their win on Saturday and Green Bay’s 35-7 loss to the Bears on Sunday. The win gives Terrell Owens three weeks to rest his ankle. Moreover, a number of other starters, including Tony Romo and Terence Newman, may also miss next week’s game against the Redskins.

The NFL first started seeding teams for the conference playoffs in 1975. Since that time, the Cowboys have had home field advantage four times, winning the Super Bowl at the end of three of those seasons– 1977, 1993, and 1995. The other season was 1979, when the Cowboys lost 21-19 to the L.A. Rams.

Thanks to the Boston Herald, here is a complete list of the NFC’s top seeds since 1975, along with each team’s performance.

# 1975 — Rams-Lost NFC Championship
# 1976 — Vikings-Lost Super Bowl
# 1977 — Cowboys-Won Super Bowl
# 1978 — Rams-Lost NFC Championship
# 1979 — Cowboys-Lost Div. playoff
# 1980 — Falcons-Lost Div. playoff
# 1981 — 49ers-Won Super Bowl
# 1982 — Redskins-Won Super Bowl
# 1983 — Redskins-Lost Super Bowl
# 1984 — 49ers-Won Super Bowl
# 1985 — Bears-Won Super Bowl
# 1986 — NY Giants-Won Super Bowl
# 1987 — 49ers-Lost Div. playoff
# 1988 — Bears-Lost NFC Championship
# 1989 — 49ers-Won Super Bowl
# 1990 — 49ers-Lost NFC Championship
# 1991 — Redskins-Won Super Bowl
# 1992 — 49ers-Lost NFC Championship
# 1993 — Cowboys-Won Super Bowl
# 1994 — 49ers-Won Super Bowl
# 1995 — Cowboys-Won Super Bowl
# 1996 — Packers-Won Super Bowl
# 1997 — 49ers-Lost NFC Championship
# 1998 — Vikings-Lost NFC Championship
# 1999 — St.L Rams-Won Super Bowl
# 2000 — NY Giants-Lost Super Bowl
# 2001 — St.L Rams-Lost Super Bowl
# 2002 — Eagles-Lost NFC Championship
# 2003 — Eagles-Lost NFC Championship
# 2004 — Eagles-Lost Super Bowl
# 2005 — Seahawks-Lost Super Bowl
# 2006 — Bears-Lost Super Bowl

More than half of the NFL’s top seeds have advanced to the Super Bowl, with just over a quarter winning the title. Here are those stats:

* Seasons of playoff seeding: 33
* Total No. 1 Seeds: 66
* Super Bowl winners: 19 (28.8 percent)
* Super Bowl Losers: 17 (25.8 percent)
* Super Bowl Participants: 36 (54.5 percent)
* Did Not Make Super Bowl: 30 (45.5 percent)

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According to the Dallas Cowboys official site, Jerry Jones says that Terry Glenn has an outstanding chance to play in the season finale against Washington.

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More on Owens’ injury from Mickey Spagnola:

Yes, Owens suffered the dreaded high ankle sprain. The good news is X-rays were negative. Nothing is broken. Sunday’s MRI basically confirmed the high ankle sprain and gave the Cowboys a better idea of the severity of the injury.

While Phillips and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones are hopeful this is not a long-term injury, the MRI suggests the injury would at least sideline Owens for the season-ending game at Washington, and that, even though the Cowboys already have earned a first-round playoff bye and would not play until Jan. 12-13, getting back in time for that first playoff game might be quite iffy.

In a release Sunday afternoon, just after the Bears dispatched the Packers (12-3) to secure home field for the Cowboys, who basically have a two-game lead over Green Bay with one to play, the club listed Owens as “week to week.” That does not sound quite as encouraging as “day to day.”

With nothing but the best single-season record in club history at stake next Sunday in Washington, Owens now will have three full weeks to heal before he will be asked to play another game. But how quickly Owens’ left ankle swelled up and how much had the team doctors concerned. That normally is a sign of a significant injury, likely to multiple ligaments.

No one really knows how soon he’ll be ready to play again, although on a much merrier note, Jones said he expected Terry Glenn to make his 2007 debut against the Redskins in the season finale.

“Not sure how long,” said Owens, leaving the stadium wearing a red Santa Claus cap. “I’m day to day. God is good, and it could have been worse. I know my body . . . all right, Merry Christmas.”