Friday, November 25, 2005


If only Efren Herrera was here to save us from our kicking spareness.

The Cowboys let a painful one get away. It is an interesting study in how to feel about a tough loss when you consider that there were plenty of good things to pull from the contest:

- They went toe to toe with one of the very best teams in the NFL, and for a good portion of the game looked to be the better team, and should have won.
- The Defense made it difficult on a very efficient Denver offense all day.
- Roy Williams is making game-changing plays routinely now (good ones).
- Jason Witten appeared almost unstoppable.
- Losing to Denver doesn’t hurt you much at all. AFC opponents don’t affect tiebreakers. Division showdowns next Sunday do.

Of course, we can also consider plenty of disappointing things from Thanksgiving Day:

- Julius Jones just doesn’t look like anything resembling “game breaking”.
- Billy Cundiff is still a very average to below-average kicker, and despite kicking a 56 yarder last week which gained a moment of love, has consistently been inconsistent since the day he arrived in Dallas.
- The offensive line’s play is very, very concerning both protecting its QB and running the football.
- A golden chance to perhaps have the division lead all by yourself by Sunday is missed. This is a game that you let get away.

I am not too worried about this result. But, there are things I am worried about. 5 games to go, and a huge showdown next Sunday in Giants Stadium.

Golden Opportunities escape the Cowboys

The Cowboys missed two opportunities to win in regulation.

Cornerback Terence Newman, who had an interception and recovered a fumble, dropped an interception at the Denver 25 with 12:23 left in regulation that he probably would've returned for the go-ahead touchdown. After forcing a punt on that possession, the Cowboys drove from their 45 to the Denver 15.

But kicker Billy Cundiff missed a 34-yard field goal wide left with 7:42 left that would've given Dallas a three-point lead. Before that kick, Cundiff had made 36 of 39 career attempts (92.3 percent) inside 40 yards.

The Cowboys re-signed him six days ago for games just like this. He made a 56-yard field goal last week that propelled Dallas to a 20-7 win over Detroit.

This time, Cundiff didn't come through.

Broncos OL makes another hero

When the Broncos defeated the Cowboys 24-21 in front of a national Thanksgiving Day televised audience and a boisterous, sellout crowd at Texas Stadium, the real hero was not Dayne for that 55-yard jaunt that set up a game-winning field goal by Jason Elam.

It was those guys blocking in front of him.

"How about giving Matt Lepsis some love?" Plummer said at his locker before his postgame news conference. "That guy's been unbelievable, but just because those guys don't talk to the media, no one writes about him. He tears up guys every week. We ran that last play right behind him."

Right down Highway 78. Meaning no disrespect to Dayne, who was given the All-Iron Award by CBS broadcaster Phil Simms after the game, or to Mike Anderson and Tatum Bell, who generally have carried the Broncos' ground game this season.

Nor is this meant to diminish the talents of Reuben Droughns, Clinton Portis, Olandis Gary and even Terrell Davis. But how many tailback stars do the Broncos have to create, seemingly upon a moment's notice, before people realize this incredible running attack is not about the runners but the blockers?

Ekuban proud to see the Tuna fail

While teammates celebrated, Ekuban stared across the field so he could revel in the pain disfiguring the face of Cowboys coach Bill Parcells.

"I saw frustration, I saw a ticked-off coach, and that's bigger than anything, better than anything I've felt during my seven years in the NFL," said Ekuban, looking for vengeance against Parcells ever since being released by Dallas two years ago.

"I wanted this one bad. To see the look on Bill Parcells' face when he was walking off the field, that's all the Thanksgiving I need. I don't need no turkey tonight."

Cundiff continues to be a spare; but will he continue to have a job?

With reporters lined up four- deep around him Thursday, Cundiff summed up the tenuous job status of an NFL kicker.

"I've been around long enough to know if you see me on Sunday, then you'll see me on Sunday," he said.

"Until then, hopefully I'll be in practice.

"They go off how you do in the game, and I didn't do well in the game. So hopefully I'll get another chance."

Horns and Aggies talk up the showdown

Understandably, A&M coach Dennis Franchione is playing the anything-is-possible card, reflecting on past upsets in a rivalry loaded with them.

Franchione even had Jacob Green, a former A&M defensive end, talk to current Aggies about the 1979 game, when a 5-5 A&M team stunned No. 6 Texas 13-7 and knocked the Longhorns out of a Sugar Bowl matchup against Alabama, the eventual national champion.

The last time Texas arrived in College Station with a guaranteed berth in the Big 12 championship game, in 1999, the Longhorns lost 20-16. Likewise, the last time A&M took the field with a South Division title assured, the Aggies fell 26-24 in 1998.

Texas defensive tackle Rod Wright predicted the "mental thing" will work today for the Longhorns, just like it used to work against them when facing the Sooners.

"This game, for us, is a different kind of swagger," Wright said. "You feel like, 'We've beat these guys for five years. We own them.' It's all on us, just like it is every week. If Texas plays Texas football, we'll win our sixth in a row."

Mooch fired by Lions today?

The Lions are 15-28 since 2003 under Mariucci, including a 4-7 record this year, a year that began with high hopes in the organization. Thursday's loss dropped Detroit 3½ games behind NFC North-leading Chicago, and 1½ behind second-place Minnesota.

"I take the responsibility, because I'm the head coach, and I should," Mariucci told the Free Press. "And that's what makes it a little bit frustrating, because where do you start? You identify where we need to be better, and there's a multitude of things."

You heard it here first (and I say this as a prediction, not as my desire): Steve Mariucci will be hired in Green Bay within the next 3 months. And by the way, how does Matt Millen survive AGAIN?

Delgado to Mets not without some complications

George Best passes away

So does Mr. Miyagi. R.I.P. ...


mst said...

When is that hillbilly from ARK gonna figure out that you dont put the Cowboys in the "road" blue by choice? Been a fan since I was 7 in 1968 and they rarely play well in any uniform other than the white w/ silver pants. He is so concerned about selling alternate jerseys - those star unis look like frat-league to me.

AttnyDan said...

Everyone knows that when play close games like Parcells teams do, you live and die by the kicker. Yesterday, he shot blanks.

Throw-Back uniforms are awful and becoming the beating of the year. What if we had throw-back day at the courthouse? Like back to 1886 when people were just hung for kicks and grins.

Hey, do you think Jessie Jackson would endorse a national throw back day, maybe to 1860?

On a serious note, why are all my A&M buddies already 12 beers into a case this morning?

mst said...

How much of a beating was it to listen to the CBS crew pull for Denver all afternoon? I was working off a Tivo buffer or I would have turned on the radio. This is their "A" team? Phil Simms blows and Jim Nance wants to have Shanahan's baby. Troy Aikman bends over backwards to not show Cowboy bias (too much so in my opinion) and Joe Buck lost me when he spent the entire World Series shilling for the White Sox, but those guys are two orders of magnitude better than the CBS magpies. Cowboys were winning the line off scrimmage (both sides) for most of the day yet to hear them tell it Denver was running all over us. Too bad we gave them 7 points (thanks Bledsoe) and couldn't make a kick. And what was that crap at the end of the first half? Talk about taking the momentum away from yourself...

Observer said...

Survivor spoiler ahead.

I mean it.

After last night, the show become much less watchable. The only really good hero was gone (all we have left now is, what, Rafe? Give me a break), and none of them really makes for a good villain.

I'd like to know what gave Cindy such a chip on her shoulder about Gary, why she loathed him so much. Something must've happened weeks ago, because I know Gary voted for Cindy at one point.

It was fun to see Bobby Jon and Jamie over on the bench. I'll bet they're having some good times now that they're out of the game. I'm glad at least that Gary got to bust Judd on the immunity idol before he got voted off.

I'm afraid the last few episodes of this are going to be pretty boring, unless Judd starts to go crazy again and gets himself voted off early. My money is now on Rafe to win it all. He hasn't offended anyone, really, and even though he wins challenge after challenge, still no one really talks about him as a "threat", probably because of his gay voice.

Andy Douthitt said...

If I were a kicker in the NFL looking for a home and a place to maximize my ability, kicking for the Dallas Cowboys would be my #1 destination of choice. Why?? You play your home games in a controlled environment which should lead to more successful field goal percentages right? Right???
Cundiff is not reliable. You need to be automatic from 30-50 yards in this league. I will always argue that there is no better place to kick in the NFL than for the Cowboys because you are NEVER kicking in the elements at Texas Stadium. You never have to worry about rain, snow, wind (very much). This is a controlled environment. Bottom line is kickers that kick for the Cowboys at home should be the highest rated kickers in the league. We seem to never have that.

Julius Jones...what is he?

Fast? OK
Durable? no
Reliable? I would say no up to this point
Able to sense where the holes are (like 22 used to) ? not yet
Good pass catcher? no
A 25 to 35 carry a game back? Hell no

Then what do you have? Is the line bad or is he not healthy yet, or is he just what he is... fast.

I'm not sure but waiting to figure him out is pissing me off.

Good points from yesterday: We are still a definite factor in the NFC.


chaz said...

bigger beating-

Never thought anybody would make me drink more than old Brent, but Jim Nance should stay away from the NFL.
Brent Musberger or Jim Nance?

Brandon at GSR said...

I'm having trouble counting the number of impactful plays ol' Ebenezer made yesterday. I've counted one in the first quarter, but I'm having problems finding other instances where Ekuban made a difference.

Can anyone help me?

curtis said...

Was anyone else sick of seeing the throw-it-laterally-for-no-gain-pass all day, as I was? God! What a HORRIBLE play! You have three above average receivers and Jason Witten torching linebackers all day and anytime a critical first down was needed, the one-yard pass to Keyshawn or somebody was thrown!

I love the white helmet, but could definetely like to see the jersey done away with. Never liked that two star look.

I agree about the pro-Broncos crew.(reference mst) As a Chiefs fan, I found it similar to chewing on vomit for four hours. Why were there so many commercials and profiles of/from Broncos players? They were playing at Texas Stadium, weren't they?

curtis said...

I am SO sick of the new fad in all the major sports of the home team wearing its colored top, leaving the "road" team to wear white. No, no, no, no, no, no, no NO! No team should wear white unless they're at home! I HATE THIS! And no home team should wear anything but white when they're at home, unless its an alternate jersey like the Mavs green P Diddy one. This just sickens me

(not that) Dan said...

Survivor hero = Stephenie

mst said...

Actually, I was being tongue-in-cheek about the "road" blue (see quotes). The standard in the NFL was always to wear your colors at home and make the visitors wear white - EXCEPT for the Cowboys. One of the many great traditions Tex Schramm started (like playing on Thanksgiving).

This did two things: first, set the Cowboys apart from the norm (a good thing) and second, meant we always were wearing white (until sorry teams like the Giants, Redskins, Beagles, heck even Minnesota and San Fran started wearing white at home only when Dallas came to town). These teams did it to mess with our heads and it worked pretty much until the hillbilly arrived and did one thing right - get rid of the horrible old blue used on our road jerseys. But being a hillbilly (or worse a money whore), he has never understood that the Cowboys wear WHITE at home. It isn't as powerful a jinx as it used to be, but why tempt the football gods???

Of course some teams, jealous of America's team, have started to wear white at home too, which sickens me.

Any time I turn on a Cowboy game and they are not in white, I get a dull ache in my stomache - there from oh so many horrible Sundays experienced while wearing the blue jersey.

mst said...

By the way, I challenge the sturminator to look up the stats on the Cowboys' record when not wearing white - if memory serves it was below 50% around 1980 or so - definitely far below their overall winning percentage...

This is not a myth.

Small of the back tattoo said...

A kicker should choose a team that plays in Texas Stadium as their #1 destination? Wouldn't a complete domed stadium serve as a real "complete controlled environment", Andy? How does a hole in the roof provide a controlled environment?

Observer said...

I thought Gary's comment about Steph was really funny. He mentioned that everyone seemed a little star-struck by Steph and that he was sure she would be happy to provide them with free autographs after the game was over if that's what they wanted. I wonder what Danni will be like now that Gary isn't speaking for the two of them (at least, that's how the editing makes it appear). Maybe she'll try to win Steph over?