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A New Man? No, Just Better

IRVING, Texas - In the midst of that wild Thanksgiving Day loss to the Broncos, the rest of the nation got a glimpse of what Cowboys fans and other close observers have been noticing all season.  

Or maybe what they should be noticing, because some people don't always see past the obvious.  

And the obvious is that Drew Bledsoe can still play. Keyshawn Johnson still has plenty left in his tank, too. But let's go deeper than that. You don't have to be throwing touchdowns or catching them to be playing at a high level.  

And never has there been a better example of this than cornerback Terence Newman. 

What? Haven't heard a lot about him this year?  

That's exactly the point.  

Other than last Thursday's game against the Broncos, where Newman had an interception, recovered a fumble and might have won the game had he picked off a fourth-quarter pass that bounced off his hands, we just haven't heard much about the third-year cornerback.  

And at some positions, especially on defense, that's not exactly a good thing. 

You want your defensive end getting his name called for making plays and stirring up something. You want your safeties and linebackers getting around the ball a lot and making their share of tackles.  

But if an entire game goes by and a cornerback isn't mentioned once, he's got to be doing something right.  

And that has happened more times than not this year when it comes to Newman. In fact, the attention he did receive in that Broncos game was for making plays, not for giving them up. There was Newman, picking off a pass, recovering a fumble, even chasing down Ron Dayne from the other side of the field in overtime to temporarily save the day. At least he forced a field goal, albeit a chip shot for Jason Elam. (Stop, don't even go there about chip shots. Just let it go.)  

Hopefully, a game like that on national television will be a good thing for Newman. In fact, if he picks off Jake Plummer there in the fourth quarter on a pass that was well behind him but still hit his hands, not only does Newman score the go-ahead touchdown with about 12 minutes to play, but he's probably heading to Hawaii, too.  

No one should make the Pro Bowl on just one play. And if Newman goes, it won't be because of one play, or even one game. But making a game-changing play in front of a national-television audience can sometimes solidify a player for postseason awards and honors.  

This happened to Dexter Coakley back in 1999 when he picked off Dan Marino twice on Thanksgiving, returning one for a touchdown in a 20-0 rout of the Dolphins.  

You think Roy Williams locked up a third straight Pro Bowl appearance when he returned Donovan McNabb's interception for a game-winning score on Monday Night Football just a few weeks back? 

The same might have occurred with Newman. 

But it's not all about the Pro Bowl. If this guy keeps playing like he has all season, he'll get there. If not, then it's a shame.  

And it's not just the last few weeks either. He's been playing at a Pro Bowl level since they kicked things off in San Diego on Sept. 13.  

"I think he's been pretty steady for us most of the year," said Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells, who simply couldn't make that statement a year ago. 

After a 2003 rookie season where he finished second only to Baltimore's Terrell Suggs in the Defensive Rookie of the Year voting, Newman just wasn't the same in 2004.  

And a plethora of reasons have been tossed out there as to why.  

  • Was so much fuss being made about finding a starter on the right side, that Newman simply
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