Win On Thanksgiving Would Make Cowboys 10-1 For The First Time

Monday, November 19th 2007, 6:53 pm
By: News On 6

IRVING, Texas (AP) With the wins piling up, Dallas Cowboys coach Wade Phillips keeps searching for nuggets of information he can use to keep his guys focused and motivated.

He considers his latest discovery quite a jewel.

``The Dallas Cowboys have never been 10-1,'' Phillips said on Monday. ``To me, that's something to make history on a team that's historical and has done all the great things they've done.''

Although he later laughed and said he made up the stat because it sounded good, Phillips certainly is correct. ``America's Team'' has five Super Bowl trophies, eight Super Bowl appearances and 19 division titles, but has never followed a 9-1 start by winning its next game.

Roger Staubach missed his chance in 1976 and so did another Tom Landry-coached team in 1983.

Now, the 2007 group guided by Phillips and led by Tony Romo and Terrell Owens gets a chance to grab this claim to fame Thursday against the New York Jets.

``It's special,'' tight end Jason Witten said. ``That'd be big for us.''

Considering it will be Dallas' second game in five days, and considering the Jets are a wretched 2-8 even after beating the Pittsburgh Steelers this past Sunday, players might need a motivational ploy to help keep them sharp. And to help keep them from thinking ahead to the following game, a Thursday night showdown against fellow NFC co-leader Green Bay.

``For us, each game is its own big game, its own deal,'' Romo said. ``We don't look past any opponent.''

As trite as it sounds, the record shows he's right. Dallas' only loss was to New England; the Cowboys won five in a row before and have won four straight since.

The latest win, at home Sunday against Washington, wasn't sealed until Owens knocked down a 50-yard desperation heave in the end zone as time expired. It was quite the exclamation point on a day in which he caught eight passes and scored on four of them, the last three touchdowns coming in a span of 11 snaps.

T.O. was still in awe Monday of that performance and the four-game run he's put together: 31 catches, 575 yards and eight touchdowns, with at least 100 yards and a TD in each game.

``I'm just playing out of my mind right now,'' he said.

The same can't be said of all his teammates, regardless of the dazzling record.

The offense struggled throughout the first half, especially center Andre Gurode. Whether it was sweaty hands or just one of those things, his three errant shotgun snaps wouldn't have been as funny if Dallas had lost.

The secondary also showed a vulnerability it's displayed several times this season. The Redskins obviously thought they could take advantage, throwing a whopping 40 times _ and that was just in the second half.

It wasn't merely in the final minutes, either. Washington came out of halftime intent on passing, perhaps the best indication yet this is Dallas' biggest weakness. The problems go deeper than starting cornerback Anthony Henry being limited by a high ankle sprain, especially with the Redskins throwing mostly to three guys.

``It wasn't that complicated, so that's what bothers me,'' Phillips said. ``We just made too many mistakes in our base coverages. We didn't run something different. We ran what we've been running and playing well, but we didn't play it well several times.''

Going back to his trusty statistics, Phillips tried spinning the performance as being acceptable because the Cowboys allowed only 6.4 yards per attempt, which is what they were averaging going into the game. For added emphasis, he noted that figure was sixth best in the league last week, tied with New England.

``We just got to keep tweaking things, keep getting better,'' safety Ken Hamlin said.

The Washington game produced a few more concerns for Dallas, from continuing to give up chunks of yards on punt and kickoff returns to the surprising site of the offense not stringing together enough first downs to grind out the clock. The Cowboys went three-and-out on their final two possessions, punting twice in the final 3:06.

``Every game is not going to be a blowout,'' Owens said. ``At the end of the day, as long as you get a W, that's all that matters.''