Reasons that support the quest for the 2 seed …
With 9-1 Chicago in control of the NFC, the Cowboys can realistically set the No. 2 spot in the conference as attainable.
The path has been cut. All the Cowboys have to do is take it. Here's why:
The Cowboys say they knew Tony Romo could be good, but no one expected this. In his first four career starts, Romo is 3-1 and has completed 70.2 percent of his passes for 1,088 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions. "It's unbelievable," nose tackle Jason Ferguson said.
Four of their final six games are at Texas Stadium, where the Cowboys are 3-1. Those four visiting teams are a combined 5-13 on the road. "It's good, but it doesn't really matter home or away," linebacker Bradie James said. "We have to win."
In winning three of the past four games, the Cowboys are plus-8 in turnovers. The defense scored a game-tying touchdown Sunday against the Colts on linebacker Kevin Burnett's 39-yard interception return in the third quarter.
Unlike the two previous seasons when running back Julius Jones battled injuries, he's fine now. Jones needs 187 yards to become the first Cowboys running back to rush for 1,000 yards since Emmitt Smith in 2001. Other than receiver Terry Glenn, no offensive player has missed a game due to injury. The only major injury, and it was big, was the torn Achilles' tendon suffered by linebacker Greg Ellis.
Getting the breaks
Donovan McNabb is out for the season. The New York Giants are dealing with serious injuries to left tackle Luke Petitgout, defensive ends Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora and linebacker Carlos Emmons. New Orleans has lost back-to-back games. Atlanta has lost three consecutive games. Seattle is 6-4, but its quarterback is hurt and Shaun Alexander has yet to regain his pre-injury form.
Jim Reeves with the column about Today’s NFL…As you know, this beats me…
Oh, sure, the Cowboys got a couple of key breaks, such as the pass interference call that should have been made on Roy Williams' goal-line interception, and the fact that Kevin Burnett would probably have been ruled down on his touchdown interception return if Tony Dungy wasn't using his red challenge flag to blow his nose at the time.
But let's not quibble over semantics. Those are plays that happen in games every Sunday, the kind the Colts had overcome in their first nine games of the season. The best team on Sunday won the game. That's today's NFL.
The Colts won't be perfect this season, but I'd still bet we'll see them in South Beach on Feb. 4, so this wasn't a make-or-break game for them.
It very well may have been for the Cowboys.
Oh, even sitting at 5-5 you certainly couldn't write them out of the postseason picture, not in this NFL. There may yet be a 3-7 team out there that can ooze itself back into contention over the season's final six games.
I love Revo, but stop doing this! All writers do it, but unless you can tell me about the year in which 10 teams were 9-1 after week 10, then I don’t want to hear this. It is absurd to suggest that the race for the playoffs (which includes 12 teams) would be exclusive to only top tier teams. If you only want top teams in the playoffs, then change the format to the top two teams in each conference. Otherwise, if you are going to include 40% of each conference, expect some middle-tier mediocrity. It has nothing to do with “today’s NFL”.
Above, Sturm Hot Button issue #213.
Colts-Cowboys Ratings Winner …
The Cowboys’ 21-14 win over Indianapolis on Sunday, televised on CBS, was the highest-rated NFL game on any network this season.
Tony Romo passed for 226 yards and Marion Barber rushed for two touchdowns as the Cowboys upset the previously unbeaten Colts, who were on a nine-game winning streak,
in front of a crowd of 63,706 at Texas Stadium.
The game scored an overnight household rating/share of 15.8/29. The game, which CBS Sports protected under the new NFL flexible scheduling, out-rated Sunday’s San Diego-Denver game, which was moved to prime time on NBC, by 52 percent (15.8/29 vs. 10.4/16).
The Cowboys host Tampa Bay on Thanksgiving Day. Kickoff is 3:15 p.m. on FOX.
Gruden to Dallas? …
Bucs coach Jon Gruden responded angrily to a report in Sunday's Tampa Tribune that said he is actively seeking work elsewhere and could wind up coaching the Dallas Cowboys in 2007.
"Whoever wrote that story is an idiot," Gruden said after the Bucs' 20-17 victory against the Redskins. "I'm committed to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; it's the only job I've ever wanted."
Gruden's remarks came in response to a column written by Ira Kaufman, who covers the NFL for the Tribune and quoted an NFL source who said it's possible that Gruden could leave the Bucs before his contract expires in 2008.
"That's not implausible," the source said of Gruden engineering his departure from Tampa Bay. "Ten years ago, it couldn't happen. Now, it's not a crazy idea."
Gruden vehemently disagreed with the notion that he would seek to leave the Bucs after this season, saying he thought the report that also suggested he could replace Cowboys coach Bill Parcells, was "laughable."
"I'm here as long as the Glazers will have me," Gruden said, referring to the family that owns the Bucs. "This is the greatest franchise in football, and we're on the way up.
"Somebody pointed that [column] out to me, and it's laughable, really. I like The Tampa Tribune. I subscribe to it. But whoever wrote that needs to have his head examined. I don't like it."
Mavs win 6th straight …
Dirk Nowitzki isn't mad about the way the Mavericks are playing.
After all, they've won six in a row after Monday night's 93-85 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats.
But Nowitzki looks ahead and sees a tough back-to-back situation tonight against Washington at American Airlines Center, then a trip to San Antonio on Friday. He knows those games are closer to the measuring stick that this team needs than a banged-up Memphis team or a not-ready-for-prime-time bunch of Bobcats.
"We know if we want to do anything against the really good teams, we got to start playing better than this sooner or later," Nowitzki said after piling up 24 points, 14 rebounds and four assists. "After an 0-4 start, we'll take wins however we can get them.
"But to be honest, we haven't really played that well. We're lucky to get these wins."
And, also to be honest, the Mavericks haven't exactly been beating up on elite squads during their winning streak.
The combined record of the six victims: 16-43. None of the opponents is over .500.
So it's a little early to say the Mavericks are on a roll. But at least they are as good as they can be after the dreadful start.
Stars win; Turco yanked for being a sieve …
The Stars had a shaky start. A quick penalty led to the Avalanche's first goal, as Marek Svatos' shot hit Marty Turco's right pad and slowly dribbled across the line. Svatos struck again about five minutes later, sneaking one between the post and Turco.
That was it for Turco, who made three stops on five shots in just under seven minutes. Mike Smith played the remainder, stopping 16 of 18 shots.
"In that position you just gotta be ready to go at all times," Smith said. "Not that Marty was playing bad, but it just shook the team up a bit, and we rebounded. That was probably one of the better games we've played in a couple of weeks."
Tippett said he was just looking for a spark.
"Turk's numbers haven't been very good, his save percentage numbers over the last five games," Tippett said. "Turk is best when he gets into a groove. You give up two early, now you just need to change momentum in the game."
Morrow injured after scoring 2 goals …
With his two goals at the end of the first period, Brenden Morrow gave the struggling Stars new life.
But Morrow's night came to an early end.
Morrow suffered a leg injury late in the second period Monday, and coach Dave Tippett said it was similar to what Jere Lehtinen suffered last week against the Islanders.
Tippett said the team will evaluate Morrow this morning.
"That's one of those ones where he tweaked it a little bit," Tippett said. "It's a little bit like Leht's. We don't want it to turn into a long-term thing. We'll be precautionary."
When asked how he felt after the game, Morrow said "I've been better." He said he couldn't pinpoint exactly what happened when he got hurt.
"It wasn't really a pop or anything," Morrow said. "I was trying to jump into the play. I took three strides and my fourth one was no good. I didn't feel a collision or anything. It was just a freaky thing on the ice."
If it is the same injury as Lehtinen's, the Stars may practice the same type of caution. Lehtinen has skated in recent practices, but he has missed the last three games.
We discussed the NHL not using Hull on a national basis last night on the post game show; unbeknownst to us, they were going to use him …
For years, people have been telling Brett Hull he could become the Charles Barkley of the NHL if went in front of the TV cameras.
Now he'll get his chance.
Hull, the Stars' ambassador and special assistant to the president, has agreed to terms on a contract that will have him doing studio work for NBC throughout the regular season and Stanley Cup playoffs. He confirmed the agreement before Monday's game.
TR Sullivan’s mailbag is good this week ….
Colt McCoy is back …
Texas fans, you may now exhale.
UT quarterback Colt McCoy has been cleared to play Friday against archrival Texas A&M, the school announced Monday. And offensive guard Justin Blalock has been cleared to join him.
Both were knocked out of the Longhorns' loss at Kansas State on Nov.11, McCoy with a shoulder stinger and Blalock with a twisted left knee.
McCoy, the Longhorns' freshman phenom, was injured plunging for a touchdown on a goal-line sneak in the first quarter.
Below, find the two coaches that know how to dress like a coach should:
They are allowed to do it twice …
Mike Nolan and Jack Del Rio are ready to suit up.
The San Francisco coach and his Jacksonville counterpart have the NFL's permission to wear dress suits designed by Reebok during two games this season.
Nolan is expected to debut his old-school outfit -- consisting of a black suit, a white shirt and a red-and-gold-striped tie -- at the 49ers' home game against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. Del Rio also will wear a suit-and-tie ensemble in Monday night's home game against the New York Giants.
Nolan wouldn't confirm his plan Wednesday to wear the suit he first requested last year, saying, "I'm just focused on the opponent, not what I'm wearing."
But NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the 49ers coach has permission to "test-drive" the suit at two games this season.
"Working with Reebok, they were able to come up with something that should work for him," McCarthy said.
Nolan first broached the idea of wearing a suit and tie during games shortly after he was hired by the 49ers in 2005. He believes the ensemble will project an image of authority while also honoring his father, Dick, the 49ers' coach from 1968-75, and legendary coaches such as Tom Landry and Vince Lombardi.
But the NFL couldn't immediately give permission, citing its lucrative outfitting contract with Reebok. Nolan has worn pullovers and polo shirts so far during his tenure, but has worked with Reebok's designers to come up with the natty ensemble he's expected to show off Sunday.
Dan Reeves is thought to be the last NFL coach to wear a suit on the sideline. Coaches have been required to wear team-issued clothing since 1993.
Del Rio is expected to wear his suit again at the Jaguars' game against Indianapolis on Dec. 10, and Nolan will suit up again at a game still to be determined.
Eagles Great Andre Waters kills himself …
To the shock of Ryan and everyone else who knew him, Waters, 44, ended his life early yesterday. He put a gun to his head in his north Tampa home and shot himself. His girlfriend discovered his body at about 1:30 a.m.
Waters is the third prominent member of those Eagles Gang Green defenses of the late 1980s and early '90s to die. Defensive tackle Jerome Brown was killed in the prime of his life - and career - in a 1992 automobile accident in Florida. He was 27. Defensive end Reggie White died in his sleep 2 years ago at the age of 43. Another former Eagle from that era, safety Todd Bell, who played for the Eagles in '88 and '89, died of a heart attack last year. He was only 47.
Steve Spalding sets another record …
An American man caught 116 tossed grapes in his mouth in three minutes in what he hopes will become a new Guinness World Record, his publicity team said Thursday.
Steve "the Grape Guy" Spalding, 44, of Dallas, Texas also set a personal record for endurance grape catching, using his mouth to catch 1,203 grapes thrown from a distance of 15 feet over half an hour, according to publicist Deanna Brown.
No Guinness World Records officials were present at Spalding's grape-gobbling attempt, carried out Thursday in Australia overlooking Sydney's iconic Opera House.
But Brown said observers had filmed Spalding's attempt and would be submitting forms to Guinness officials in the hopes of creating a new record for speed grape-catching — the most grapes caught in the mouth over three minutes.
No current speed grape catching record exists, she said.
Guinness World Records has no offices in Australia, and the organization could not immediately be reached for comment.
ight&lid=tab3pos1> Athletes love the Wire …
With all due respect to the good people who hand out the Emmys, the best show on television has nothing to do with horny housewives, castaways or Jersey. It's "The Wire"
-- HBO's gritty depiction of Baltimore's war on drugs. It's dripping with so much political corruption and unsettling social commentary that it's hard to tell whether you're watching a TV show or the news.
The series has been the darling of critics since it debuted four years ago. It has also become one of the most-watched programs among black athletes.
Carmelo Anthony loves the show.
As does Steve Francis.
Larry Hughes is also fan.
The Baltimore Ravens? Half the squad TiVo's it.
"The things in the show are some of the things I saw growing up in Detroit," says the Ravens' Derrick Mason. "Maybe not that drastic, but it's pretty real."
It should be. David Simon, the show's creator, was a police reporter for the Baltimore Sun. His writing partner, Edward Burns, taught social studies for seven years in the Baltimore school system after serving for 20 years as a city police detective. If those two can't get it right, no one can.
"A lot of black athletes like the show because it really tells it like it is," says Hughes, who grew up in St. Louis. "It goes beyond just who got shot, which makes it more interesting, because life in the 'hood is more complicated than that."
Creepy story of the day …
A 68-year-old man who almost accompanied Cory Lidle on his fatal flight in New York City last month died in a plane crash in California on Tuesday.
According to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Bob Cartwright, whose friend and personal pilot died in the plane crash that also killed the New York Yankees pitcher, and two other men died when their private plane crashed into the shoreline of Big Bear Lake, near Cartwright's mountain home in Sugarloaf, Calif.
Last month Cartwright's friend, Tyler Stanger, invited him to a playoff game between the Yankees and Detroit Tigers, but Cartwright couldn't make it. Lidle and Stanger died Oct. 11 when their plane crashed into an apartment building in New York City.
Robbing the Liquor store
Dwarf fights midget
Smash my PS3