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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.”

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


This is the type of win that will likely drop the Cowboys in a few power ranking polls, but it really doesn’t matter. The Cowboys came off a week of distractions in the form of injuries and off-the-field matters to pull out a tough road victory that turned out to be very important. The 20-13 win reduces the Cowboys’ magic number for home field advantage throughout the playoffs to one. This means we are now big fans of Chicago and Detroit…and we still hate Washington.

With Terrell Owens, the Cowboys jumped out to a 14-0 lead. He was injured in the Cowboys’ second touchdown drive. Without him, Dallas struggled to score six more points. Latest news I’ve heard is that he suffered a high ankle sprain and will probably be out until the playoffs. The focus now shifts to Patrick Crayton and Sam Hurd, and the possibility of Terry Glenn returning may be more of a necessity than it was before.

Incidentally, I did not have access to NFL Network during the game, and being in St. Louis for the holiday, I could not listen to the Cowboys’ broadcast over the air. I was thus forced to flip back and forth between the Cowboys’ broadcast on Field Pass (which is usually about 30 seconds off of the live action), the NFL.com Game Center, and the parts of the game that were streamed over NFL.com. Dear NFL: To heck with your network.

Some notes from the game:

* Tony Romo dropped the first snap of the game, which sure looked like an omen, given the injured thumb and the backup center.
* For the first quarter and a half, the Cowboys really shut down the Panther offense. Carolina managed two first downs on its first three possessions.
* Marion Barber looked as if he would make sure that the starters could rest. His legs provided the muscle that moved the Cowboys 75 yards in 4:13 during the second quarter to set up their second touchdown. However, on that drive, Owens suffered the ankle injury while catching a pass on 3rd and 3 from the Carolina 9. That was the last time we saw T.O. during the evening.
* Although T.O. plays neither on defense or on special teams, the Cowboys’ other units fell apart briefly. Once again, the kickoff coverage unit gave Carolina the ball in great field position (near the 40 following a return by tight end Jeff King on a short kickoff after the second Dallas touchdown). The defense then gave up on a long run to DeAngelo Williams, setting up Matt Moore’s first career touchdown pass to Steve Smith.
* Dallas managed a field goal after the Carolina touchdown to extend the lead to 17-7, and then Anthony Henry picked off Moore to set up another Dallas drive late in the half. However, the Cowboys could not get into field goal range before the half.
* The Cowboys’ defense made a good stop on the Panthers’ opening drive of the second half. After moving the ball to the Dallas 1, Carolina was backed up to the Dallas 20 on the next several plays and was forced to kick a field goal. It cut the lead to 17-10, which was much better than 17-14 at that point.
* Although Romo made some poor throws, his only really big mistake was trying to hit Crayton on a deep post early in the fourth quarter. He was picked off by linebacker Thomas Davis, who was ruled down at the 3. The placement of the ball turned out to be good news for the Cowboys, though, who stopped Carolina on the next drive.
* The Cowboys chipped away at some yards following a Carolina punt from its own 5 with 13:24 left.
* The Panthers appeared to get a huge catch from Steve Smith with 7:08 remaining. Smith caught a ball between Ken Hamlin and Jacques Reeves, but the ball came loose when he hit the ground. The officials ruled the pass incomplete, and the play was upheld on review. That one will be debated next week for sure.
* Moore converted 4th-and-9 play from the Carolina 34 by hitting Smith on a 57-yard gain, prompting reminders of Mark Brunell hitting Santana Moss on a fourth down play when the Redskins beat the Cowboys 14-13 early in the 2005 season. This is fortunately not the 2005 season.
* Marion Barber secured the game MVP award– I think– with 24 yards that he gained on the Cowboys’ final drive. On a second-and-8 from the Dallas 25, I lost my live feed. Just as I got it back, I discovered that Barber had broken off an 11-yard run that iced the game. I was bracing for a last-second Carolina drive.

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Stats for the game:

* Dallas outgained Carolina 405 to 216 and held the ball for 39 minutes.
* Marion Barber gained 110 yards on the night, surpassing 100 for the first time since Thanksgiving and for the third time this year. Unofficially, he needs 19 yards against Washington to go over 1,000 for the season.
* Assuming that Owens’ regular season is over, his final stats are 81 receptions for 1,355 yards and 15 touchdowns. He finished four catches short of his 2006 total in receptions, but surpassed his stats in receiving yards and touchdowns. It is his best season since 2001, when he caught 93 passes for 1,412 yards and 16 touchdowns for the 49ers.

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Records

Three major team and individual records fell or were tied tonight:

(1) Tony Romo became the first quarterback in team history (you know, the team with Don Meredith, Roger Staubach, Danny White, Troy Aikman, and Chad Hutchinson) to throw for more than 4,000 yards in a season.

(2) This year’s squad joined the 1992 team as the only two with 13 wins. This franchise has some sort of affinity for 12-win seasons, having gone either 12-4 or 12-2 (prior to 1978) on nine different occasions.

(3) Owens finally broke Frank Clarke’s record for touchdown receptions (14) by hauling in his 15th of the season. Clarke, by the way, caught 47 passes for 1,043 yards in 1962, for an average of 22.2 yards per catch. Owens certainly wasn’t bad in that category, finishing with a 16.7 yard average.

Preview: Cowboys vs. Panthers

After last week’s debacle, I thought I’d give the Nostradamus Quatrain Generator another shot. Here we go:

Question– Can the Cowboys right the ship against Carolina on Saturday night?

Our response–

Earth-shaking fire from the center of the Earth

Through his death a great schism will arise

The twelve red ones will spoil the cover

And war reign happily where it once did cease

The first line was the same one that we saw for the Packers’ game, which much be a good sign. And from the looks of things, I predict that we will make twelve trips to the red zone but will struggle to cover the 11 1/2-point spread. Cowboys should still win, though.

AccuScore

Once again, Dallas won 83% of AccuScore’s simulations. Here is the preview:

The outcome of the game is coming down to Tony Romo and his touchdown to interception ratio. In the 80 percent of simulations where the Cowboys win, Romo averages 2.2 TD passes vs. just 1 interception. In Cowboys losses he averages 1.5 TD passes and 1.5 interceptions. After several quiet weeks look for Terrell Owens to have a big game with a 50 percent chance of reaching 100 yards and 1 TD. Teams are going to start gearing up to contain Jason Witten which should leave Owens open for some big plays.

What If Sports

At What If Sports, Dallas won 90.2 percent of the simulations by an average score of 28.7 to 13.1.

Pigskin Pick’em: Dallas Favored by 11 1/2

For yet another week, all of the members of the ESPN Talent picked Dallas to win. However, only 56.9% of users picked Dallas to cover the spread. The preview:

The Cowboys are coming off a stunning home loss to the Eagles and have not wrapped up the top playoff seed in the NFC yet. Dallas is undefeated in six road games this season. The Panthers upset the Seahawks at home last week for only their second home victory in 2007. Dallas defeated Carolina on Oct. 29, 2006, 35-14.

Questions Waiting for Answers: Week 16


fancygens.com

As opposed to previous polls, this week’s version asks which of the following question is the most important on Saturday.

The biggest question that needs an answer this week is…

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


(View Results)

Create a Poll

I will choose not to comment on Owens’ comments regarding Jessica Simpson. You can watch E! Online for that news. And while you’re there, you can also get caught up on Jamie Lynn Spears’ pregnancy, relevant to me only because we no longer allow our seven-year-old to watch her television show.

Roy Williams’ suspension is, however, subject to our discussion here. The NFL has upheld its previous decision:

Whatever Roy Williams and his representatives were selling Wednesday in New York, the NFL wasn’t buying.

The one-game suspension sticks.

The NFL made this official early Wednesday afternoon, denying Williams’ appeal of the one-game suspension levied on Monday after his third violation of the “horse-collar” tackle rule this year and the fourth in two years.

The Cowboys’ starting strong safety will miss Saturday’s game at Carolina, without pay, costing him his $35,000 game check and keeping him away from The Ranch until Sunday for dragging down Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb from behind in last Sunday’s 10-6 loss to the Eagles at Texas Stadium

After hearing Williams’ appeal Wednesday morning, the NFL released this statement:

“Commissioner (Roger) Goodell has denied the appeal of the one-game suspension of Roy Williams. The ‘horse-collar’ tackling technique is prohibited because the Competition Committee and the clubs have determined that it presents an unacceptable risk to player safety. Rules that protect and advance player safety must be enforced in a way that will deter violations and prevent injuries from occurring.”

Kevin Sherrington had a column the other day that I tend to agree with these days:

Just in case you thought anyone was picking on your favorite Dallas Cowboy, the NFL targeted signature defensive moves long before Roy Williams perfected the horse-collar.

Fred Williamson’s hammer and Deacon Jones’ head slap are illegal, and Samson went back to his cell after hanging a nasty clothesline in The Longest Yard.

Unless he gets a reprieve from the NFL on Wednesday, Williams will likewise sit out Saturday’s game at Carolina, and deservedly so.

How bad has this week been for No. 31? On Sunday, he’s flagged for his collar of Donovan McNabb. Monday, he’s fined $35,000 and benched.

And Tuesday, he learns that 11 Cowboys have been selected as Pro Bowl starters or reserves, and he’s not one of them.

The omission lends some credibility to his reputation as a safety that can’t cover anymore, and now the NFL isn’t so crazy about the way he tackles, either.

His coaches and teammates ought to be fed up, too. The NFL fined him twice this season and warned him in writing after the last one, and still he acted recklessly.

Even if Williams’ career clearly isn’t headed in the right direction, the Cowboys desperately need him.

He’s not so far removed from the safety that Darren Woodson once described as the best football player he’d ever seen.

Romo’s thumb provides some better news, though:

When Wade Phillips went to practice Wednesday, he did not expect Tony Romo to throw any passes because of an injured right thumb.

Not only did Romo take part in a full practice, he was able to make all of the throws, which led Phillips to believe Romo will play Saturday at Carolina.

During the portion of practice that was open to the media, Romo appeared to be cautious with his passes. Phillips said Romo did not take a snap from center, working only from the shotgun.

Romo felt a little pain on his follow through, said Phillips, who added, “he seemed pretty accurate as far as throwing the football.”