Remember When the Cowboys Could Do This…?

This was from the Cowboys’ last visit to the Meadowlands. Seems like a very long time ago.

Cowboys Move Back Up in Power Rankings

In the six power rankings polls listed below, the Cowboys’ average ranking is 9.  This represents quite an improvement for a team that was lucky to survive the Tampa Bay game with a win.

1. Jeremy Green, ESPN Podcast: Cowboys are #11

Jeremy Green isn’t very happy to move Dallas from #16 to #11. The basic ranking makes since generally, except for two problems: (1) Dallas is 5-3, not 4-3; and (2) he left Tampa Bay three spots ahead of Dallas.

[audio:http://www.sportsblogsandforums.com/videos/2008/green.wk9.mp3]

2. ESPN NFL Writers: Cowboys are #8

According to ESPN, the Cowboys moved eight spots up, moving ahead of a bunch of 4-3 teams.

At least for one week, the Cowboys saved their season. Now, they’ll have to face the Giants with Brad Johnson at quarterback. Good luck. (MM)

3. Fox Sports: Cowboys are #10

Adrian Hasenmayer of Fox Sports also kept Dallas behind Tampa Bay, ranking the Cowboys at #10.

Wade Phillips saved his job, but Brad Johnson may have lost his as backup quarterback. Can you imagine if Jeff Garcia would have dropped the ‘Boys to 4-4 in Texas Stadium? Jerry Jones’ face may have melted

4. NBC Sports: Cowboys are #12

The Cowboys are still behind Tampa Bay and Green Bay at #12 in NBCSports.com’s ranking. This site allows fans to vote as well, and the fans also have the Cowboys ranked at number 12.

5. Pro Football Weekly: Cowboys are #6

The editors of Pro Football Weekly have the Cowboys at number 6, ahead of Buffalo and New England. I wouldn’t go that far.

6. CBS Sportsline: Cowboys are #6

Pete Prisco at CBS also has Dallas all the way up at #6.  His comment: “Did the victory over Tampa Bay cure their ills? Hardly. They need Tony Romo back in the worst way. Too bad he won’t be there against the Giants.”

A bit disconcerting was the poll featured on the site.  According to 41,411 visitors, Dallas is least likely to win the NFC East this year:

Who will win the NFC East?
15% Eagles
56% Giants
11% Cowboys
18% Redskins

Today’s Research: When the Cowboys Gain Fewer Than 200 Total Yards

In 48 out of 730 regular season games over the past 49 seasons, the Cowboys have gained fewer than 200 total yards. These 48 games thus represent only 6.6% of the total regular season games played. With Sunday’s win over Tampa Bay, the Cowboys’ record in games where they gain fewer than 200 yards improved to 8-40.

Several stories have noted that the 172 total yards is the fewest ever recorded in a Dallas win. This rather infamous mark breaks the previous one set against Cleveland on December 12, 1970, when Dallas survived a mud bowl to beat the Browns 6-2. The Cowboys came very close to that mark in 1968 when the gained only 177 yards in a 20-7 win over Minnesota.

Not surprisingly, many of the games listed in the table below took place during dark times in the franchise’s history, such as the early years (1960-1965), the transition years between Landry and Jimmy Johnson (1986-1990), and the post-dynasty depression (2000-2002).

Five of the teams that have kept Dallas below 200 yards were eventually Super Bowl (or NFL) champions: Green Bay (1965), San Francisco (1981), Chicago (1985), New York Giants (1990), and Baltimore Ravens (2000).

Several of these teams are also highly regarded in NFL history for their defenses, including the New Orleans Saints of the late 1980s, the Philadelphia Eagles of the late 1980s and early 1990s, and the Tennessee Titans of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Note: the eight wins are listed in bold.

Date Opponent Score Total Yards (Dallas)
Oct. 16, 1960 Cleveland L 48-7 167
Oct. 23, 1960 St. Louis L 12-10 175
Oct. 30, 1960 Baltimore Colts L 45-7 147
Oct. 1, 1961 Cleveland L 25-7 152
Nov. 12, 1961 Pittsburgh L 37-7 185
Dec. 10, 1961 St. Louis Cardinals L 31-13 126
Nov. 22, 1964 Washington L 28-16 196
Nov. 29, 1964 Green Bay L 45-21 132
Dec. 6, 1964 Philadelphia L 24-14 132
Oct. 4, 1965 St. Louis Cardinals L 20-13 181
Oct. 24, 1965 Green Bay L 13-3 192
Dec. 4, 1966 St. Louis Cardinals W 31-17 190
Oct. 20, 1967 Minnesota W 20-7 177
Dec. 12, 1970 Cleveland W 6-2 174
Dec. 17, 1972 N.Y. Giants L 23-3 132
Nov. 11, 1973 N.Y. Giants W 23-10 195
Nov. 23, 1980 Washington W 14-10 199
Oct. 11, 1981 San Francisco L 45-14 192
Nov. 21, 1982 Tampa Bay W 14-9 185
Nov. 17, 1985 Chicago L 44-0 171
Nov. 13, 1988 Minnesota L 43-3 159
Sept. 10, 1989 New Orleans L 28-0 174
Sept. 24, 1989 Washington L 30-7 190
Nov. 23, 1989 Philadelphia L 27-0 191
Dec. 10, 1989 Philadelphia L 20-10 194
Dec. 16, 1989 N.Y. Giants L 15-0 108
Sept. 16, 1990 N.Y. Giants L 28-7 156
Oct. 14, 1990 Phoenix Cardinals L 20-3 100
Nov. 11, 1990 San Francisco L 24-6 158
Sept. 15, 1991 Philadelphia L 24-0 90
Dec. 24, 1994 N.Y. Giants L 15-10 183
Dec. 10, 1995 Philadelphia L 20-17 196
Sept. 22, 1996 Buffalo L 10-7 192
Sept. 28, 1997 Chicago W 27-3 180
Dec. 21, 1997 N.Y. Giants L 20-7 184
Dec. 6, 1998 New Orleans L 22-3 182
Sept. 3, 2000 Philadelphia L 41-14 167
Nov. 19, 2000 Baltimore Ravens L 27-0 192
Dec. 17, 2000 N.Y. Giants L 17-13 145
Dec. 25, 2000 Tennessee L 31-0 95
Sept. 9, 2001 Tampa Bay L 10-6 127
Nov. 22, 2001 Denver L 26-24 191
Nov. 17, 2002 Indianapolis L 20-3 178
Dec. 21, 2002 Philadelphia L 27-3 146
Dec. 29, 2002 Washington L 20-14 186
Oct. 26, 2003 Tampa Bay L 16-0 178
Dec. 30, 2007 Washington L 27-6 147
Oct. 26, 2008 Tampa Bay W 13-9 172

Cowboys 13, Buccaneers 9: Not a Work of Art, but It Works

The Cowboys’ 13-9 win over Tampa Bay had all of the ingredients of a potential loss:

* The Cowboys had trouble protecting Brad Johnson, who very rarely threw the ball further than 10 yards. Gaines Adams nearly broke Johnson in half on one of Adams’ sacks.

* Johnson’s passes were off, and several were nearly picked. He threw for only 122 yards in the game.

* Terrell Owens was once again a non-factor, catching five passes for 33 yards.

* Thanks to the Cowboys’ inability to move the ball, Tampa Bay had great field position through much of the first half.

But then there was the good, even though some of these items won’t look very impressive in the stats:

* The defense kept Tampa Bay out of the end zone. That was huge in the first half, when it looked like the game could easily get away from the Cowboys.

* The defensive line consistently pressured Jeff Garcia, which helped the secondary. The pressure was crucial, because at one point the three corners were Mike Jenkins, Orlando Scandrick, and Alan Ball.

* Penalties were not a huge problem (5 fo 35 yards). In fact, the biggest penalty was a 15-yarder called on Tampa Bay late in the first half, which kept a Dallas drive alive. Thanks to a total of four Buccaneer penalties on one drive, the Cowboys eventually scored a touchdown to take a 10-6 halftime lead.

* Roy E. Williams had only two receptions for 10 yards, but his touchdown reception (video) at the end of the first half was big. He also had another great catch on a play where Dallas took a pass interference penalty instead of letting his reception stand.

There were still some missed opportunities. Dallas looked as if it could extend its lead early in the third quarter when Bobby Carpenter recovered a fumble on the second half kickoff. However, Patrick Watkins was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, which move the ball back to the Tampa Bay 48. Dallas could not even get into field goal position and had to punt.

On the other hand, Dallas took some chances that paid off. The touchdown pass to Roy Williams at the end of the first half came with just six seconds left.  The Cowboys also converted two fourth down plays in the second half.

The Cowboys moved to 5-3, which at the least moves Dallas ahead of Chicago, Atlanta, and Arizona by a half-game in the NFC rankings.

* * *
Jason Witten missed most of the second half with a rib injury. Martellus Bennett and Tony Curtis combined for four receptions.

* * *

The last time that the Cowboys won a game when their starting quarterback threw for fewer than 122 yards was 2005, when Drew Bledsoe threw for 110 yards in a 20-7 Dallas win over Detroit.

Cowboys-Buccaneers Prediction in 100 Words

Another blog asked for me to write a 100-word piece predicting the Cowboys-Giants game next week. I was so anxious to get started that I wrote one for tomorrow’s game against Tampa Bay.  As you can see, I am not especially optimistic.

The Cowboys have lost three of four and suffered a 34-14 humiliation at the hands of the previously dreadful Rams. Are the Cowboys still a probable playoff team at this point? Dallas will need to meet or exceed a 10-6 mark to get into the playoffs, and consecutive games against the Buccaneers, Giants, and Redskins are huge roadblocks as the Cowboys try to start heading back in the right direction. Jeff Garcia has been a Cowboy-killer in the past, and he looked strong against the Seahawks on Sunday. Regretfully, I think the ship is still off-course. Buccaneers 24, Cowboys 17.

* * *

Jeff Garcia vs. Dallas

As the starter for the San Francisco 49ers early in the decade, Jeff Garcia was indeed a Cowboy-killer. The 49ers won two of those three games, and Garcia threw nine touchdowns with no interceptions in those starts.

He was the starter with Cleveland in 2004 when the Browns lost to Dallas. That was a poor performance by Garcia, as he completed only eight of 27 passes for 71 yards with no touchdowns and three picks. Two seasons ago, he beat the Cowboys as the Eagles’ starter late in the season.

* * *

Bring Back Bucco Bruce!

Too Tall Jones smacks Doug Williams

Too Tall Jones smacks Doug Williams

Speaking of guys with effeminate lisps, the Cowboys should hope that the Buccaneers follow BucPower.com‘s advice and bring back the orange and white uniforms with the gay-looking pirate named Bucco Bruce on their helmets.

The Cowboys played the Buccaneers eight times between 1977 and 1990. The teams played the first seven of those games in Dallas, and the Cowboys won all eight games, including two playoff games. The shot above of Too Tall Jones crushing Doug Williams is from the 1981 playoffs when Dallas routed the Buccaneers 38-0.

In 1990, Dallas played Tampa Bay twice during a three-week window, which was odd given the two teams were not in the same division. The two wins over Tampa Bay helped Dallas to improve to 7-9 that season.

Oct. 2, 1977 Dallas Dallas 23-7
Sept. 21, 1980 Dallas Dallas 28-17
Jan. 2, 1982-x Dallas Dallas 38-0
Nov. 21, 1982 Dallas Dallas 14-9
Jan. 9, 1983-y Dallas Dallas 30-17
Oct. 9, 1983 Dallas Dallas 27-24 (OT)
Oct. 7, 1990 Dallas Dallas 14-10
Oct. 21, 1990 Tampa Bay Dallas 17-13

Dallas has lost three of four to Tampa Bay since 2000. In each of these games, the Buccaneers played in their new uniforms. In the Cowboys’ won while wearing their throwback uniforms from 1960 to 1963. That’s helpful to know.

Simulations

Here are the results from the simulations for the week:

Accuscore: Dallas wins 52% of the simulations.

The good news is that Dallas won 52% of the simulations in tomorrow’s game. The Cowboys outscored Tampa Bay 21.5 to 21.1, so it would be a good game if the simulations held up.

WhatIfSports: Tampa Bay 26, Dallas 21

According to the WhatIfSports simulations, Dallas will have trouble with both Earnest Graham and Antonio Bryant, as the Buccaneers won 53.1% of the simulations.

A Look Back: Timmy Newsome’s Sideline Scamper (1983)

In 1983, the Cowboys entered a week 6 matchup with Tampa Bay as an unbeaten team. The Buccaneers, on the other hand, were winless, trying to find a way to win with a new quarterback thanks to Doug Williams’ contract problems that led to his defection to the USFL.

The result was a sloppy game that the Cowboys barely pulled out in overtime.  The game featured big plays by two of the Cowboys’ fullbacks of the 1980s.

In the first quarter, Dallas took a 7-3 lead thanks to an 80-yard pass reception from Danny White to Ron Springs, who had the only 100-yard game, rushing or receiving, of his NFL career.

The other big play was pulled off by Timmy Newsome.  Late in the game, with Dallas trailing 24-17, the Cowboys started a last-ditch drive from their own 26-yard line.  With 57 seconds left, Dallas had moved up to its own 48.  Here’s the play:

The play came on the same day that Dallas inducted Roger Staubach into the Ring of Honor, so the ending was rather fitting. The Cowboys won the game in overtime. Rafael Septien missed his first 50-yard attempt, but Tampa was called for roughing the kicker, giving Dallas a second chance. Septien hit from 42 yards to give Dallas a 27-24 win.

A few other notes from the game:

* Newsome had two long touchdown receptions during his career. The first was a 46-yarder against Houston in 1982, which you can watch here. The 52-yarder against Tampa Bay was the longest touchdown play of his career.
* Danny White threw for 377 yards, the highest single-game total of his career.
* The name of the Tampa Bay quarterback: Jack Thompson. He previously played for Cincinnati as a backup to Ken Anderson.
* The name of the cornerback who missed the interception attempt in the video above was John Holt, who played for West Texas A&M.
* Dallas won one more game over the Eagles before losing to the Raiders. The Cowboys finished the season 12-4 before losing in the wildcard round of the playoffs to the Rams.
* Here is the Dallas Morning News story of the Tampa Bay game.
* Here is the boxscore.

Obscure Fact: Cowboys Briefly Had the All-Time Best Winning Percentage

This is an unknown fact that I did not know until I stumbled upon it by accident: four weeks ago, the Cowboys were the all-time winningest franchise in NFL history in terms of winning percentage. Since going 1-3 in the past month, the Cowboys have slipped back to second in this category behind Chicago and just ahead of Miami.  Below are the numbers.

Before the 2008 Season

Dallas entered the 2008 regular season with a .578 winning percentage, calculated by dividing the total number of wins by the total number of wins and losses combined (and discarding ties).  Miami edged Chicago for the best record with a winning percentage of just over .580.

1. Miami: 369 wins, 267 losses, 4 ties (.58019 winning percentage)

2. Chicago: 677 wins, 491 losses, 42 ties (.57962 winning percentage)

3. Dallas: 414 wins, 302 losses, 6 ties (.578 winning percentage)

After Week 3

After three games, Dallas had a 3-0 record, while Chicago and Miami stood at 1-2 each. The Cowboys’ all-time winning percentage improved to .580, while the Bears and Dolphins were tied at .579 (the Dolphins actually had a very slight edge).  Here are the records at that point:

1. Dallas: 417 wins, 302 losses, 6 ties (.580 winning percentage)

2. Miami: 370 wins, 269 losses, 4 ties (.57903 winning percentage)

3. Chicago: 678 wins, 493 losses, 42 ties (.57899 winning percentage)

Before Week 8

By going 1-3 in their past four games, the Cowboys have slipped back to second in this category, while Chicago has taken the lead.

1. Chicago: 681 wins, 494 losses, 42 ties (.580 winning percentage)

2. Dallas: 418 wins, 305 losses, 6 ties (.57815 winning percentage)

3. Miami: 371 wins, 271 losses, 4 ties (.57788 winning percentage)

Greatest Cowboys By Their Jersey Numbers: #96

Part of the Greatest Players by Number Series

Jersey #96

Five Cowboys have worn #96. Each of these players was a defensive lineman.

Welcome to the Battle of First-Round Busts

Antonio Anderson, DT, Syracuse, 1997-98

Statistics: Anderson recorded 21 tackles and two sacks with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played two seasons with the Cowboys.

Intangibles: Anderson brought size (6’6, 311 pounds) to the Cowboys, but not much else. The fourth round pick was gone after two years.

Shante Carver, DE, Arizona State, 1994-97

Statistics: Carver recorded 11.5 sacks with Dallas.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played four seasons with Dallas.

Intangibles: Carver was Jerry Jones’ first pick without Jimmy Johnson. In fact, Jones traded up to get Carver, who was a complete bust until his final year in 1997, when he recorded six sacks.

Ebenezer Ekuban, DE, North Carolina, 1999-03

Statistics: Ekuban recorded 12.5 sacks with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played five seasons in Dallas.

Intangibles: Ekuban was the second consecutive North Carolina defensive end taken in the first round by the Cowboys. Whereas Greg Ellis has had a solid career, Ekuban was a disappointment. In his final two seasons with Dallas, he recorded 3.5 sacks. He has since become a more solid player with the Browns and Broncos.

Marcus Spears, DE, LSU, 2005-

Statistics: Spears has recorded 4.5 sacks, 79 tackles, and 44 assists with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He is currently in his fourth season with Dallas.

Intangibles: Spears has been a starter since he arrived in Dallas in 2005, but he mostly has been a disappointment. He was brought in just as Dallas began its transition to a 3-4 defense, but he has not consistently provided either solid run support or any type of pass pressure.

Daniel Stubbs, DE, Miami, Fla., 1990-91

Statistics: Stubbs recorded 8.5 sacks with the Cowboys.

Accolades: None.

Longevity: He played two seasons with Dallas.

Intangibles: The 49ers took Stubbs in the second round of the 1988 draft, and the Cowboys acquired him via trade in 1990. He was a solid player on the 1990 squad but lost playing time to Leon Lett in 1991. He was sent to Cincinnati during the 1991 season. He played for five teams in 11 years.

Poll

Here is your chance to vote for the greatest player to wear #96.

Greatest #96

  • Marcus Spears (64%, 44 Votes)
  • Ebenezer Ekuban (22%, 15 Votes)
  • Shante Carver (6%, 4 Votes)
  • Daniel Stubbs (6%, 4 Votes)
  • Antonio Anderson (3%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 69

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My Vote: Spears

Marcus Spears

Marcus Spears

This is number where all of the choices are bad. Spears is on the road to being a bust, but unlike Carver and Ekuban, he has been a starter since he arrived. That is the only reason I would put him atop this list.

Cowboys Take a Power Rankings Dive

As expeted, the Cowboys took a big hit in the power rankings this week. Among five power rankings reviewed below, Dallas averages 13th in the league. The team was the consensus #1 a month ago.

1. Jeremy Green, ESPN Podcast: Cowboys are #16

The Cowboys have fallen hard according to the lead football podcaster at ESPN. Here is the audio clip:

[audio:http://sportsblogsandforums.com/videos/2008/espn.mp3]

The latter part of the clip features an interview with Len Pasquarelli. Pasquarelli points out that unlike baseball teams that fire their managers, football teams that fire their head coaches never tend to fare well. He cites a stat that the combined record of coaches who have taken over during the season is less than .333.

Here is a quote from one of his articles written last season:

The cumulative record of the in-season replacement coaches since the merger is just 119-261-1. That’s an anemic winning percentage of .314, not much better than the success rate of the coaches that the replacement guys supplanted. Of the 58 previous in-season replacement coaches since 1970, only 10 have posted winning records, and that includes four who coached three or fewer games.

2. ESPN NFL Writers: Cowboys are #15

According to ESPN, the Cowboys rank below the Falcons, Bears, Cardinals, and all three division opponents. Not good.

Probably generous to put the Cowboys here after Sunday’s performance. This team is staring 4-6 in the face. (MM)

3. Fox Sports: Cowboys are #12

Somehow, the Cowboys stayed ahead of the Eagles and Packers according to Adrian Hasenmayer of Fox Sports. I’m thinking he didn’t actually see the Rams game.

Nice to see Jerry, Wade and the Cowboys finally admit it’s a perfectly good time to panic. OK, they really didn’t do that a loss to the Rams is instigating the football equivalent of the financial crisis. Let’s take a breath, however. Dallas is still 4-2 in games with injured starting QB Tony Romo in the lineup … and Brad Johnson didn’t play all that poorly against the Rams. They still have plenty of weapons, at least on offense, to right their leaky ship. But another loss, and watch for the carnage around Jerry Jones next week. THIS WEEK: vs. Bucs (5-2).

4. NBC Sports: Cowboys are #14

The Cowboys fell seven spots in NBCSports.com’s ranking. This site allows fans to vote as well, and the fans also have the Cowboys ranked at number 14.

5. Pro Football Weekly: Cowboys are #10

The editors of Pro Football Weekly have the Cowboys at number 10, ahead of Jacksonville, Chicago, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Green Bay, and Indianapolis. The comment there: “Too bad ‘Hard Knocks’ doesn’t air during the season.”

Looking for Some Hope from the 1970 Season

Very much by default, I usually corner the market on posts that draw comparisons with Cowboys teams of old. The Dallas Morning News blog asked the following question yesterday, which I planned to answer in full:

Is this the most embarrassing game in Cowboys history? It has to rank pretty high on the list. After all, they’re playing the Rams, dude.

Mr. Vela at Blue and Silver Report beat me to it, though. Here is his summary of really bad games in team history:

* 1970, week 9 — Cardinals 38, Cowboys 0. A second consecutive loss that drops the ‘Pokes to 5-4;
* 1971, week 7 — Bears 23, Cowboys 19. A loss to a weak Bears team in the infamous QB rotation game leaves Dallas 4-3.
* 1978, week 10 — Dolphins 23, Cowboys 16. A second consecutive loss, this one in dreaded Miami, where Tom Landry always lost, drops the Cowboys to 6-4.
* 1981, week 6 — 49ers 45, Cowboys 14. A second consecutive loss drops Dallas to 4-2 after a 4-0 start.
* 1992, week 5 — Eagles 31, Cowboys 7. Dallas comes out of its bye week and gets thrashed on a Monday Night in Philly.
* 1995, week 15 — Eagles 20, Cowboys 17. Dallas loses its second in a row and third in five weeks in the infamous 4th-and-1-x-2 game. Their record is 10-4 but they’re being written off as yesterday’s champs, done in by Jerry’s meddling and Barry’s ineptitude.

Every one of these teams made it to the conference championship game. Five of them made it to the Super Bowl. Three of them won it.

What came to my mind immediately was the 1970 loss to St. Louis. The Cowboys started the season at 2-0 but lost to St. Louis in week 3. Dallas beat Atlanta before getting demolished 54-13 by the Minnesota Vikings. The Cowboys showed resolve by winning three straight but then fell to 5-3 with a 23-20 loss to the Giants.

That’s when the 6-2 team from St. Louis (Cardinals then, of course) visited the Cotton Bowl. The result was worse than the debacle against the Rams on Sunday. Here’s a video.

The Cowboy-killer for St. Louis that day was Johnny Roland, who scored three touchdowns. The Cowboys committed six turnovers.

The Dallas Morning News article then sounded awfully familiar:

The shaky world of the Dallas Cowboys, that club which was once the apple of pro football’s eye, came tumbling down on a cold Monday night in the Cotton Bowl.

You remember the Cowboys, of course … those 40 outstanding individuals without a team, which is somewhat like a man without a country.

St. Louis, heir, apparent to the Eastern Division title, stomped the Cowboys, 38-0, as 69,233 fans gathered at the funeral. The rest of the country interested in professional football watched in living color — So color the Cowboys red.

That 1970 Cowboys team responded brilliantly by traveling to Washington and beating up on the Redskins in a 45-21 rout. Both the Giants and the Cardinals faded down the stretch, and the Cowboys were able to pull out the division with a 10-4 record.

I now have a blog post predicting a 9-7 finish for the 2008 Cowboys, and I am not going to regress a day later. This year’s squad doesn’t have the leadership of Bob Lilly, Lee Roy Jordan, Chuck Howley, Mel Renfro, and so forth. This team instead has quite a few me-firsts and a bunch of others who seem unwilling to take on leadership roles.

The Cowboys lost some bad games during good years under Tom Landry, as Mr. Vela points out, but what was very common under Landry’s teams was that they tended to bounce right back from defeat. Can you imagine this team losing a game 54-13 and then winning two straight (1970)? Or getting beat 45-14 and then winning four straight (1981)?

What concerns me is that the Cowboys teams of the recent past have shown no relationship to these great teams. There is the 1999 team that started at 3-0 but crawled to a 8-8 finish. There is the 2004 team that started at 2-1 but collapsed afterward, losing six of seven. There is the 2005 team and the 2006 team, both of which looked like playoff teams but could not put anything together at the end the season, finishing with identical 9-7 records.

I would love to believe that this team has some fight in it like the 1970 version, but I just don’t see it. The veteran leadership consists of players who have been on the mediocre or worse teams of the past few years, along with some others (Owens, Thomas) who have only experienced marginal success elsewhere. The team has shown that it will roll over and die when the pressure hits, and I have a feeling that is exactly what we’ll continue to see this Sunday against Tampa Bay.