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T.O. vows fewer mistakes, big second half coming

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IRVING, Texas (AP) _ The two most memorable plays Terrell Owens has made for the Dallas Cowboys are two he didn't make: a fourth-down drop that short circuited a rally against the New York Giants, and a deep, sure touchdown pass he dropped against Washington.

His most memorable touchdown celebration? A nap that cost 15 yards against the Redskins.

Those weren't the kinds of things T.O. had in mind when he signed with the Cowboys and proclaimed, ``Get your popcorn ready!''

Midway through his first season in Dallas, Owens has made plenty of headlines off the field, but not much news on it.

Sure, his 44 receptions are 11th in the NFL and his 558 yards are 14th. But they are his worst numbers through eight games since 1999, the year before he blossomed into a Pro Bowler.

If the Cowboys were leading the NFC East, maybe his mediocre-for-him stats and drops wouldn't be an issue. But Dallas is 4-4, so everything is magnified.

Owens acknowledged his slow start Wednesday and gave several reasons he insisted weren't excuses: a broken hand sustained early in the second game, when he dropped several other passes, including another touchdown; playing two weeks later after having a plate screwed into the broken hand; and the fact Drew Bledsoe started the first six games.

He didn't actually identify Bledsoe, but Owens said several times in 15 minutes that his season has turned for the better the last two games _ or since Tony Romo replaced Bledsoe at quarterback.

``I think the first six games of the season I was just out there,'' Owens said. ``I really wasn't involved. But now I'm involved. I expect to get the ball. ... Tony does a lot of things for us. I want to go out and make plays for him.''

Owens said to expect a lot more plays from him in the coming weeks.

``It'll be something personal,'' he said, adding only that the next eight games will ``no doubt'' be better than the first eight.

Owens was on the defensive because of all the heat he's taking for Dallas' 22-19 loss to Washington this past Sunday.

Although a wild series of events at the end resulted in the Redskins' victory, it likely would not have come to that if Owens held onto a heave from Romo that would've been a 74-yard touchdown and a 26-22 lead.

``That's a play that I should make and I didn't make it and I feel bad,'' Owens said. ``I honestly feel like I let the team down. I feel like this loss is on my shoulders.

``From here on out, I'll be a different person,'' Owens later added. ``I won't be standing here no more during the season saying I've lost the game. ... I promise you that.''

Owens has had plenty of others drops this year. He's also had two slips, falling on the turf of Texas Stadium on two likely catches; the second one prompted Giants receiver Plaxico Burress to call Owens a ``coward'' who went down to avoid getting hit.

Romo shrugged off all the misses as ``part of the game.''

``Everyone's going to drop the ball,'' Romo said. ``I guarantee you that all the guys on the team have dropped the ball at some point. You've got to be able to overcome that as a team.''

Cowboys coach Bill Parcells said he knows Owens' problems with drops are nothing new. However, he refused to evaluate Owens' half-season.

``I'm not getting into it now,'' Parcells said. ``Let's just say he's made a pretty good contribution and I'm hoping we can get better the second half.''

For all that's gone wrong, T.O. has scored six TDs, one shy of the NFC lead.

Still, even that hasn't been controversy-free because of the penalty Dallas received for his latest show-stopper: laying down in the end zone with the ball as his pillow, making fun of his own recently publicized sleeping problem.

While it was the first time Owens was penalized since the NFL outlawed using the ball as a prop, it was the second time this season the Cowboys have been punished for it. And that's two too many for Parcells.

``I think everybody is pretty aware of the rule,'' Parcells said. ``I'm hoping we don't have any more of that. That's the first time I can recall having two in one year.''

Don't expect Owens to, uh, lose any sleep over it.

``Once I score a touchdown, I'm going to celebrate,'' he said. ``I'm going to have fun. It was an unfortunate situation. If I celebrate, it won't be a situation where I have a 15-yard penalty, but I'm going to have fun. I'm not going to let anybody's thinking about what I do on a football field distract me and take away from what I do.''
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