It is no secret that I did not grow up as a Cowboys fan. It is no secret I have a Green Bay Packers tattoo on my arm, and that my son is named, Brett. I have never tried to convince you that I am anything more than a neutral observer when it comes to the Dallas Cowboys. I follow them closely every day, but I do not live and die with them every day.
But, Saturday, I was affected by the outcome. That gutted me, so I can only imagine it gutted you worse. There are results that make you wish you either lost by 17 or missed the playoffs altogether.
The sun will come out tomorrow, but this one will hurt for quite a while, I would imagine.
Here are some various notes that come to mind when reflecting on the gutting of Seattle 21, Dallas 20.
• Tony Romo’s career hit a crossroads on Saturday night. It is very early in the game to say that, but when you see a moment like that, you do wonder if it will affect his career in a similar fashion to Mike Vanderjagt’s missed Field Goal last January. I love this kid. I love the maddening aspects of his game. I say you take the good with the bad because you must. But you also must realize what you might have here. A special, special QB. I would think this will make him stronger, but only he can decide that. Anyway, if you have a heart, it likely broke a little for his role in costing the team a chance to play next week. He has to be sick.
• The Cowboys defense had moments themselves. Many stops over the course of the night was much more than most of us expected. But, perhaps their legacy is that they had plenty of chances to shut the door themselves in the 4th Quarter, but let it slip through their fingers. They play that jumps readily to mind was 3rd and 1 from the Cowboys 41 with 5:12 left when Roy Williams blitzed right but missed the tackle on Alexander. He surrendered the first down, and the next play helped surrender the Touchdown down the middle to Jerramy Stevens. The other play that screams at the defense is the play immediately after the Romo fumble. You still had a chance to pin them in deep. You knew they were going to run. They knew they were going to run. But Alexander still gashed you for 20 yards on first down and put the game on ice. So they do not skate on this, either.
• Quite a shame about that Terry Glenn fumble, too. Randy Galloway suggested that the WR screen on your own goal-line was an audible from Romo. Either way, if Glenn holds the football, the Cowboys aren’t in this mess. And, make no mistake, if that was Owens with the crucial fumble, he has already been executed, and the grainy video of said execution would be bouncing around the internet already. That is the kicker of all of this. Tony Romo, Terry Glenn, and Jason Witten all had crucial moments of “butterfingers”, and those are three guys you could generally trust all season long.
• As one emailer said, “why can opponents isolate Roy Williams in coverage anytime they want, but the Cowboys cannot figure out a way to isolate Pete Hunter all night long”? 2 catchers for 26 yards for Terrell Owens? I am not offensive coordinator, but I am pretty sure I would have figured out a way to get him the ball a few more times. Remember the slant? No? Me, Neither. I am not sure there were any. Romo did hit him in the stomach with that pass on 3rd down late in the 2nd Quarter, but one item about 2006 for us to ponder is “why could the Cowboys never force the ball in to Owens?” The Giants use Plaxico Burress despite not having any other receivers than Shockey down the middle. But they still take a few shots each game and give Burress a chance to make a play. Despite the numbers, I just did not see the Cowboys use Owens in the big games the same way.
• Bobby Carpenter will be invited back for 2007 after Saturday night. I suggest you figure out a way to use him.
• Wouldn’t you love to know if the Cowboys would have been able to keep Seattle from driving down the field with 1:00 to go and down 23-21? We will never know, but if Romo doesn’t fumble the snap, could the Cowboys have gotten the stop? I don’t mean to be the pessimist here, but I have my doubts.
• As mentioned above, I am no homer, but that Deep Judge was screwing the Cowboys all night long. Sure seemed that plays in the secondary were going one direction on Saturday.
• Speaking of, what part of “Indisputable Evidence” do they not understand?
Honestly, I think the overturning of the Witten spot was the right call, but it sure wasn’t “Indisputable”. And while we are at it, on the Glenn fumble, did he ever really catch the ball?
• Flying with the team is all fun and games until they have one of the most painful losses in franchise history. A fairly subdued airplane landed at DFW about 4am. I am not sure it could have been more quiet on the flight.
• If Marion Barber is the player many make him out to be, I would like to see him pick up a few more 3rd and shorts this time of year. Meanwhile, why is it that Julius Jones can run for 22 yards and it doesn’t surprise you; and yet he can also run for 112 and that doesn’t really surprise you, either? Consistency is not a trademark of the Cowboys running game in the Post-Emmitt era.
• I don’t know anything about Jordan Babineaux, other than the fact that he evidently owns the Cowboys. What a play to stop Romo.
• I really don’t know how good the Seahawks are, but I do know this: Their stadium, their fans, their game presentation, and their entire “Seahawks Nation” bit is very cool. A downtown stadium where everyone is pulling for one cause. The fans have totally bought into the 12 man bit, and they go bananas all night long. It should make us jealous down here.
• How much money would the Cowboys have saved if they just would have waited to sign Roy Williams to an extension? Surely his flaws would have kept his price down. Talk about taking the good with the bad.
• It has been 3664 days since the last playoff win for the Cowboys.
• Who is the Coach in 2007? I think it will be Bill Parcells. Who is the defensive Coordinator? I think it will not be Mike Zimmer. Just two hunches.
• Home teams were 4 for 4 this weekend. I guess Christmas Day is what really derailed this thing.
• Let’s get going on 2007. This team isn’t very far away.
• Austin Miles looks like he has big play return man ability. That smile he flashed as he was running the kick back was priceless. In fact, it would have been the featured picture on the blog if they would have won the game.
• I simply cannot believe that I received emails asking if the Cowboys have issues at QB. Folks, I may have rushed to judgement on calling him a Jedi, but make no mistake: The Force is strong in this one.
Eli and the Giants shut it down for the Winter …And the Eagles are the one NFC East team still standing…
It ended with the Giants finally, forlornly, abandoning all pretense about a possible revival, falling to the Eagles, 23-20. It ended with a combative coach, Tom Coughlin, dangling by a snarl, 8-9 on the season and still without a playoff victory in seven years, plus change.
It ended with nobody really knowing whether Eli Manning will ever show more poise than poison for an entire game. It ended with an ailing defense unable, again, to make the big stop at the end of a game. It ended with too many false starts and it ended with wasted timeouts, which might have stopped the clock for one more chance.
"It doesn't matter how much talent, how many Hall of Famers you have on the team," said Plaxico Burress, who gained 89 yards and scored two touchdowns on five receptions. "Talent doesn't overcome mistakes. We learned that in the hardest way."
Here was the whole season, squeezed into 60 minutes of concentrated, frustrating football. The Giants started off quickly, as they did in October. Then they began acting dumb, as they did in November. Then they fashioned a too-late comeback, as they did in Washington.
Manning was solid at times, but there were times when he just seemed to throw the ball in the general direction of Burress and hope for the best.
Wobble, wobble, toil and trouble. Manning finished with an 85.6 quarterback rating on the night, which felt a bit generous.
Now there is mostly punch-drunk confusion with this franchise, a team facing an overhaul on a vague timetable. There will be meetings, discussions, decisions. The January inventory is not exactly what ownership had in mind going into the season:
No GM. No Tiki. Not much of an arm on the quarterback. A coach who blames everybody but himself, but mostly the media. And plenty of dumb, dumb players.
How stupid were they? Well, the Giants committed four penalties in the first 319 seconds of the game. Then they committed three straight penalties in the fourth quarter.
The End of TonyHomo.com …
Pro Football Talk laughs at Mike Lupica’s claim …
can we all give the hyperbole over the Romo blunder a break? The overly-caffeinated Mike Lupica of ESPN's The Sports Reporters (whom we can't bring ourselves to rip because the Poobah's dad loved the guy) said it was the most stunning playoff moment since the Immaculate Reception.
Huh? We're not going to try to put together a comprehensive list here of memorable playoff games since Bradshaw-to-Frenchy-to-Tatum-to-Franco-to-paydirt, but a few that come to mind -- from this decade alone -- are the Music City Miracle, the Panthers' double-overtime win a couple of years back against the Rams, the Giants-49ers bad snap followed by a chuck-and-duck that should have drawn a flag, and (oh, by the way) Raiders-Pats in 2001.
Should we continue?
And we didn't even mention last year's Steelers-Colts game, with a wild finish that for most Steelers fans expunged the memories of the Immaculate Reception because, unlike the 1972 thriller, the Steelers finished the job in 2005 by winning the Super Bowl.
Page 2 recalls other goats; like Trey Junkin …
In one of the more memorable NFL playoffs game, the 49ers had rallied from 24 points down to take a 39-38 lead over the Giants on Jan. 5, 2002, but New York lined up for 41-yard field goal with 6 seconds remaining. But Junkin, a 41-year-old 19-year vet signed earlier in the week to replace the team's injured long-snapper, made a bad snap and the kick never got off. Junkin retired after the game. "This is something I've done for 32 years, but not anymore. If you can't count on me at the end of the game, that's it, I'm done," he said after the game. "I cost 58 guys a chance to go to the Super Bowl. I'd give anything in the world, except my family at this point, right now to still be retired."
Meanwhile, The Mavericks win streak died last night in Los Angeles, As Kobe and Sasha stop the streak at 13 …
It was a stiff request to begin with, the Lakers taking on the Dallas Mavericks, who rolled into town with the league's best record and a 13-game winning streak.
They wouldn't get to 14.
Again defying NBA logic, the short-staffed Lakers went point-for-point with one of the more seasoned offenses in the league and did more than survive. They excelled, taking possession of the last quarter and its final few minutes in a 101-98 victory Sunday at Staples Center.
Continuing to win again and again, with whomever is available to suit up, the Lakers got another stand-up effort from a different player, Sasha Vujacic taking a turn at the front of the line with a career-best 16 points, including a three-pointer that put the Lakers ahead for good, 100-98, with 28.5 seconds to play.
No wonder Phil Jackson couldn't help allowing himself a rare smile as he left the court.
"Quite a finish to that game," he said.
Quite a statement from a team that wasn't really sure what it had when the season began 10 weeks ago. Kobe Bryant and Jackson were still limping from their respective surgeries. Then Lamar Odom went down, followed by Kwame Brown, and, funny thing, it hasn't really mattered.
Sunday's effort was a unique way for Jackson to become the fastest coach ever to collect 900 NBA victories.
Bryant had 26 points on nine-for-20 shooting, eight rebounds and six assists — solid, obviously, but not the story of the game.
That was reserved for Vujacic, who made six of seven shots, four of five from three-point range, and was then surrounded by reporters at his locker for the first time in his three-year Lakers career.
Mavericks win streak analyzed by MavsCentral.com …
In Dallas’ first 26 seasons in the league, they only had four winning streaks of 10+ games while they have had two in this season alone.
When most people think of the Mavs, they think of Dirk Nowitzki and the high octane offense and that has been a key to Dallas this season. Dallas is 22-0 when they shoot a higher field goal percentage than their opponent. Only one other team in the league is undefeated when they shoot better than their opponent, that being Portland who is 8-0.
Dirk scored 36 points in last night’s victory over the Spurs, it was only the sixth game of the season where Nowitzki has scored 30+ points (the Mavs are 6-0 in those contests). Since the beginning of last season, Dallas is 27-5 when Nowitzki scores 30 or more points in a game, the best record in the league (minimum 10 games with 30+ points). The next best record is Elton Brand and the Clippers (22-7).
Another plus for the Mavs this season has been the increased play of Josh Howard. Howard became the first Maverick in franchise history to win the Western Conference Player of the Week award in two consecutive weeks and only the fifth Maverick to ever win multiple weeks in the same season (Mark Aguirre, Michael Finley, Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki).
During the Mavs current 13-game winning streak, Howard has averaged 21.9 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks. He is also shooting 49.3% from the field and 38.3% from behind the three-point arc.
Spurs consider trade? …
Separated from Dallas in both standing and confidence, the Spurs began the rest of their season Saturday morning by confronting the considerable amount of work in front of them, not all of it limited to the court.
The Spurs carry a three-game losing streak into this afternoon's meeting with the Memphis Grizzlies, barely clinging onto a playoff seed that would allow them to open the postseason on their own floor. Coaches and players alike continue to applaud the team's effort but also realize effort alone isn't going to lift them to where they want to go.
The Spurs continue to pursue trade possibilities. Friday's loss also further exposed the difficulties the Spurs have in matching up with the Mavericks, given their lack of athleticism at some positions.
Team officials continue to speak with the Clippers about swingman Corey Maggette. The Spurs have been hesitant about parting with both Barry and Udrih in a possible deal, but that could change. Bonner's name also has come up in talks with the Clippers.
The Clippers, according to a Western Conference official, are in talks with at least three other teams, and might not feel as pressured to move Maggette given that they also have fielded offers for Cuttino Mobley.
The Spurs have inquired about Toronto forward Morris Peterson, but those conversations haven't yielded much.
Wednesday Night, The Wire comes to BET …
On Wednesday, January 10, 2007 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, the critically acclaimed HBO series THE WIRE will begin airing on BET with its series premiere. The basic cable, multi-season run of THE WIRE on BET will consist of all 50 produced episodes, with each episode airing in a 90-minute block. The first three episodes will be shown in a three-day marathon beginning Wednesday, January 10 through Friday, January 12 from 9- 10:30 p.m. ET/PT each night. Beginning January 18, THE WIRE can be seen every Thursday night at 9 p.m ET /PT with an encore run on Saturday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT. The Peabody Award-winning series tells the story of a single drugs-and- murder police investigation from the point of view of both the police and their targets.
Classic: Chinese Backstreet Boys (or Japanese, I suppose)
Hiro on Leno
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