Dallas Cowboys seeking answers after another late loss

Monday, October 24th 2005, 8:37 pm
By: News On 6

IRVING, Texas (AP) _ Dallas Cowboys kicker Jose Cortez smiled near his locker Monday, confident he would regain his accuracy soon.

But coach Bill Parcells wasn't willing to wait.

Not after another unreliable kick, another late collapse and what Parcells calls ``a little more important'' game looming Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. So the Cowboys waived Cortez on Monday, then tried fixing everything else that can't be solved with roster moves following a painful 13-10 loss to Seattle.

``There were just too many erratic things,'' Parcells said. ``There were too many problems.''

He was talking about Cortez, who missed a 29-yard field goal in the fourth quarter that cost the Cowboys crucial points in another close game. The Cowboys signed rookie Shaun Suisham to take his place, even though Parcells said he doesn't ``know that he'll do any better.''

Not that Cortez nailing that kick _ his third miss in his last seven attempts _ would have widened the lead that much.

Of the Cowboys' seven games this season, four have been decided by four points or fewer. Another was a 19-14 loss at Oakland.

While the defense has allowed just 29 total points to Philadelphia, New York and Seattle _ three of the top offenses in the league _ the last two touchdowns allowed by the Cowboys were both surrendered in the final minute of regulation.

Against the Redskins on Sept. 19, Washington scored both its touchdowns in the final 3:46 in a 14-13 stunner.

The defense insists it's not because players are simply running out of steam.

``We weren't fatigued,'' said defensive tackle La'Roi Glover, who is second for the Cowboys with three sacks. ``Guys were feeling pretty fresh, to be honest with you.''

For his part, Parcells can't say why his team has played in so many close games.

``Maybe we're not good enough to get separation,'' Parcells said. ``I don't know that. We've been in a lot of close games. ... If you let a team like Seattle (hang around), who I think is pretty good overall, I think it's hard to hold them forever.''

The loss knocked the Cowboys (4-3) from first place in the NFC East to last, a half-game behind the Eagles, Giants and Redskins. Parcells said Sunday's game against the Cardinals carries a little more weight, since it's the last outing for the Cowboys before a stretch of three games in 11 days leading up to Thanksgiving.

Wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson said he thinks the offense will return to scoring more points before then. On the plane ride back from Seattle, Johnson said he told the defense he took responsibility for not scoring more points to protect their effort.

``I think we'll get it fixed this week,'' said Johnson, who caught the lone touchdown for the Cowboys. ``I'll put my money on it getting fixed this week.''

Notes: Parcells said he doesn't know if RB Julius Jones will be ready for Sunday. Jones has missed the past two games with an ankle sprain. ``It'll be by committee here for a while,'' Parcells said of the stable of backs running in place of Jones. ...Parcells said LB Dat Nguyen, who's missed the past three games with a neck injury, should play against the Cardinals. Parcells said he didn't think Nguyen was ``mentally'' ready to play against Seattle. ...Parcells said WR Peerless Price, who had just one catch for 19 yards Sunday, had limited opportunities because of the two-tight end, one-receiver sets the Cowboys favored. But he said he expects Price to see more opportunities.