December Slump? Dallas Beats Carolina

A win is a win. Tony Romo, injured thumb and all, played average. Marion Barber ran the ball well, gaining over 110 yards on 22 carries (season high in yards), and scoring a touchdown. Terrell Owens has a high ankle sprain, but not before he scored a touchdown to his 3-game slide.

With that said, the Dallas Cowboys moved one step closer to home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs with a 20-13 win over the Carolina Panthers.

The offense still isn’t hitting on all cylinders. The defense had 5 sacks, the most so far this year. Other than one botched coverage that left Steve Smith wide open for a touchdown, the Cowboys dominated this game. The Cowboys also are lucky: it appeared to me the refs missed a pass interference call that would have kept a drive going for Carolina in Dallas territory. The Cowboys defense held strong on third downs, allowing the Panthers just 2-of-11 on third down conversions.

There were several other key injuries besides Owens. Nose tackle Jay Ratliff, cornerback Terence Newman and linebacker Bradie James all sustained injuries. Owens is scheduled to have an MRI on his high left ankle sprain on today. Ratliff, Newman and James all returned.

What a week of scandals. The Cowboys survived it though. To the naysayers who claimed the Cowboys were in a December slump, the laugh is on you. We all forgot what it felt like to lose a game, so the Eagles woke us up. Romo, during an interview, addressed the media frenzy over his girlfriend and Owens’ comments. He said that this is the first time he could remember when he didn’t care about anything but football. Gee, Romo … I hope you continue to focus life around football right now. The Cowboys did give you a handsome raise, and the team really would like to win a record-setting sixth Super Bowl, especially against the Cheatriots, whom no one thinks can be defeated. Jessica Simpson can wait until mid-February for some lovin’.

“I just put tunnel vision on,” Romo said. “I knew we needed to come out here and get a win. I had to get myself in the right frame of mind to play at my best. I felt like this week, there were so many distractions, about just junk sometimes. I just felt like the important thing for my team was to get myself in football-mode 24-7.”

Nick Eatman has a story up about the win. Some records were broken last night. Romo is the first player in Cowboys history to pass for more than 4,000 yards in a season. Danny White had the record with 3,980 yards  in 1983.  Owens 15th touchdown catch tops Frank Clarke’s record of 14 set in 1962. Jason Witten has 94 catches for1,121 yards, career highs and team records for a tight end. DeMarcus Ware’s 13 sacks are the most in a season since Jim Jeffcoat’s 14 in 1986.

Owens may be done for the regular season to rest his ankle for the playoffs. Who knows, he may be more seriously injured than the trainers are letting out. I had this vision last night as I watched Owens use crutches to leave the locker room: with Terry Glenn preparing for a comeback, possibly playing his first game since a serious knee injury, what if he comes in and leads the Cowboys to a Super Bowl win? Glenn is a team leader. Just like Owens, he has big-play potential. Imagine the storyline to Glenn returning and playing at a high caliber that kickstarts this Cowboys offense? The vision stuck with me all night and this morning.

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Tags: Bradie James Carolina Panthers Dallas Cowboys Danny White December Slump DeMarcus Ware Frank Clarke Jason Witten Jay Ratliff Jessica Simpson Jim Jeffcoat Marion Barber Steve Smith Terence Newman Terrell Owens Terry Glenn Tony Romo

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