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Can't Even Block Out Of Their Minds

for 73 yards, and if you take away that long of 14, they gained just 59 on the other 21 tries, making this twice in three weeks they haven't run for squat. 

  They could not protect Romo, treated no better than some dangling piñata at a 10-year-old's birthday party, blindfolds optional. I mean he was sacked three times. He was tagged by the Cardinals another eight times. And if not for the tuck rule, a generously blown-dead play and a ruled arm going forward, he would have lost three more fumbles. 

  It's a no wonder he left the game with only a badly sprained little right finger (first play in overtime) that we know of. I mean, brutal. 

  "They got great pressure on us and we need to find out why," Phillips said. 

  He didn't just leave it at that. 

  "We need to study it and see," Phillips said later. "Looked like their guys were doing a good job, and getting around the corner and getting behind (Romo)." 

  Behind him. From the side of him. In front of him. Blindside of him. 

  And in the end, that is why McBriar was standing on his own goal line awaiting to punt after their fifth three-and-out of the game, yet just the second following the first quarter. Why on the very first play from the Cowboys 22, Romo was sacked for minus-7 while trying to roll left away from the pressure, and actually was highly lucky to fall on the one-hopping loose ball on his way down. 

  On the second play, the Cardinals lambasted him as he was throwing for Terrell Owens, the ball understandably coming up short. And on the third play, facing an all-out blitz with far less than goods hands protection, Romo and Owens weren't on the same wave length, causing the punt, the pressure a likely reason. 

  "Saw he was getting pressure and he had to get the ball out," said tight end Jason Witten, held to a season-low four catches, a lot of his opportunities dumped off to running back Marion Barber who ended up with more than twice as many yards receiving - 11 catches for 128 yards thanks to his 70-yard touchdown jaunt on a swing pass - than rushing. 

  Romo was diplomatic. He didn't throw his guys up front under the bus, probably knowing left tackle Flozell Adams suffered an early stinger and had problems with his left arm the entire game. But dude. 

  "I can say this until I'm blue in the face," said Romo, who probably was after all the times he was hit, black and blue. "They got after us." 

  But this wasn't just Sunday. This was Cincinnati last Sunday. And this was Washington the Sunday before that. Romo now has been sacked 15 times in six games. At this rate, he's going to be sacked 40 times this year - that is if he's healthy enough to even play 16 games. 

  So if you are wondering why his passes are off or he is not seeing the field or Owens catches just four passes for 36 yards, just keep your eye on Romo, and see how many times he's getting up after the play. 

  "They hit you, and half the time they hit you, you are aware," said Romo of knowing what's about to happen. "Today, a couple of times I took blindside hits." 

  A couple of times? 

  No wonder the Cowboys scored no more than 24 points for the second time in three weeks, this becoming more of a trend than happenstance. No wonder they were unable to outscore their many blunders the way they did early in the season, those of the special teams and the defense. 

  Offense is the lifeblood of this team, and as I had been saying all last week, they were going to need 30 to win. They only scored 24 - barely - coming up a couple of pints short. 

  So, and let's see if we got this right. They aren't blowing anyone off the line of scrimmage in the running game, and their shock attack, Felix Jones, was grounded in the second quarter with a hamstring strain, never to return. 

  And they aren't protecting the quarterback worth a darn, his continued good health expectancy dropping faster than the Dow Jones. If he doesn't take an Evelyn Wood speed-reading course, he's never going to get to his second and third options. 

  All Romo would say is defenses have gotten a beat on one of their

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