Too much exposure for Cowboy stars

By Anthony Bialy  |   Sunday, December 30, 2007  |  Comments( 3 )

Dallas Cowboys
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Spiting a rival is not enough motivation to win a football game. Neither is padding one's stats, apparently. The possibility of being the first Cowboys team to 14 regular-season wins would have been a nice accomplishment to see listed in a media guide a few years from now, although it was a hollow, futile prize for Dallas to pursue Sunday. Those things all would have been marginally worthwhile achievements, but, once it's apparent that things aren't working out in a hostile stadium during a game that won't affect your standing either way, put your indispensable talent in the panic room and take that third loss without worry.

The Cowboys should have treated their last game like the final preseason tilt, putting Tony Romo out there for maybe a pair of series and then letting him remove his pads and watch the rest of the game on a bench shielded by a hooded jacket. Instead, the coaches kept him out there exposed to a hungry defense that was attempting to claw into the playoffs.

This was particularly true on the first half's last play: Given a free shot from their opponent's 36 after Washington committed a kickoff penalty, the Cowboys sent Romo out there to attempt to heave it into the end zone in lieu of a long field goal attempt. The Redskins' defenders, astutely recognizing they didn't have to worry about a draw going for a touchdown, let loose and bull-rushed as a group, bringing down the franchise quarterback and quashing an attempt to pull closer during an insignificant game on a play that virtually never succeeds.

It wasn't as if the Cowboys have to worry themselves over getting this offense on track like they would in August, either. The team's components are aware of their own adeptness, and they don't honestly need to fear being off the rails about two weeks from now.

There's always the worry that a sluggish effort will carry over into the playoffs, but the truth is that they could afford to be out of sync for the season's final moments thanks to the way they consistently won games throughout most of their schedule.

There was one single player they could have justifiably used considerable game time: The returning Terry Glenn, and he ended up with no catches. Worst of all, cornerback Shawn Springs got an interception on a toss in his direction. That's understandable, especially considering how rusty the wideout must have been; what was unacceptable was the way Glenn turned away and performed the "Where's the flag?" gesture to the official instead of tackling the fellow former Buckeye who just beat him to the ball, a player who headed downfield as the receiver simultaneously pantomimed. Whoops!

That sort of poor play and poorer attitude won't benefit this team in the postseason, so fans better hope Terrell Owens sufficiently heals and remains in high spirits during the upcoming days. The problem is that his fellow prominent teammates should have seen barely more playing time than he did. Instead of resting and being happy with 13 wins, too many guys were needlessly put at risk.

In the end, the despised Redskins got into the playoffs while the Cowboys' attempt to get their offense rolling stalled. Even if Dallas' stars avoided injury, it still wasn't the right course of action. It's easy to say that after the game, but most people could have announced beforehand that both inserting and keeping top guys in the huddle was Wade Phillips' strangest decision of the year.

As it unfolded, Dallas was beaten badly and appeared lackluster in the process. The Cowboys actually tried to win with their starters and were rewarded with six points, seven first downs, and a single positive rushing yard over 16 attempts. So, what was the point?
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About Anthony Bialy

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CommentsComments: 3  |  Sign Up  View all comments
01:06 PM
The "point" is that they have been playing badly and winning for several weeks now and they needed to get their act together...
05:45 PM
There was no point to be made and they should have rested as many starters as possible after the first quarter. The Cowboys have...
09:56 AM
as a diehard cowboys fan for 31 years,sunday was as pathetic as i can remember them playing on offense,with our whole 1 yard...
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