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Close Shaves Even Out

screaming second-and-two at the three. 

Right there sports fans, there is your ball game. 

Oh, there had been so much concern over what the Cowboys were going to do with the Real Moss, and the fact of the matter is, they held him to four catches by basically playing him straight up. There had been so much concern over changing deep snappers in the middle of the stream, and the fact of the matter is, rookie L.P. Ladouceur was no factor. And there had been so much concern over spending a week in California between these consecutive West Coast games, but the fact of the matter is the Cowboys just might have been fresher in the fourth quarter than the homebody Raiders. 

But come on, trailing 10-0, you can't get stopped on third-and-2 from the 12, Marion Barber's first NFL carry - he played the third-down back role - went for one yard thanks to Warren Sapp. Result: Field goal. 

Trailing 13-3, the Cowboys are second-and-1, with Barber in after Jones had five carries in the drive, the last a 14-yarder, and get nothing when Barber tries to bounce the ball outside. Then they get nothing again on the third-down play, a blitzing Danny Clark pancaking Flozell Adams to stop Jones dead in his tracks. Result: Field goal, which very well could have been a touchdown three plays earlier had Keyshawn Johnson not has his 21-yard touchdown grab taken away for his illegal motion while coming in motion into the slot. 

"Did I drift?" Johnson said. "I was trying to stop." 

And despite trailing for 58 minutes, there the Cowboys were, hanging around to the bitter end, sitting there second-and-two at the Oakland three, trailing just 19-13, which was hard to figure, other than factoring in 13 Oakland penalties, and a top-shelf effort from Patrick Crayton on his 63-yard touchdown grab and run to pull the Cowboys within 16-13. 

"They let you hang around and hang around, and you have a chance to win in the end," said Johnson. 

So here was the game. After Jones' eight-yard run to the three, the Cowboys went heavy, three tight ends and Marcus Spears at fullback. The handoff goes to Jones over left guard. There was a huge hole. Spears was heading off the linebacker, but for some odd reason, and I'm guessing a missed block, here comes defensive end Tommy Kelly knifing in from the right to drop Jones for a two-yard loss. 

Now third-and-four. This is where Bledsoe and Johnson have been money near the goal line, connecting on one of those fade stops to the back shoulder against San Diego and San Francisco. So the Cowboys figure, if the Raiders are watching film, they are looking for the same pattern. 

"We thought 21 would slough up a little bit," Johnson said of Nnamdi Asomugha. 

Johnson tried to sell the stop, then run the fade. But Asomugha didn't bite, giving Bledsoe no room to fit the ball in, and throwing too high for Johnson, a near impossible throw to make. 

"But I still thought we would get in," Johnson said. 

So here was the game, fourth-and-four at the five. The Cowboys went three wide, Crayton left, Johnson wide right, Glenn in the right slot, tight end Jason Witten left. Only 1:49 left. The Cowboys, anticipating another blitz, ask Bledsoe to take a short drop. Three steps. Quick read. Hit Glenn on one of those quick outs. But Bledsoe was too quick. His pass was low for Glenn at the one. Had he caught it, he might not have scored, but would have probably at the first down - remember, it was not fourth-and-goal. 

But he didn't, and worse, well listen to a despondent Witten: 

"His progressions don't have him look at me first," Witten said. (Jarrod Cooper) was on my side. They busted a coverage, I don't know." 

Witten was wide open in the end zone to the left, and he knew it, just as he was wide open on that fourth-down play when the Cowboys fizzled out against Washington in that one-point loss. And the head coach knew it, too. 

"He went to the wrong side with the ball," Bill Parcells of Bledsoe on the fourth-down play. "Witten was uncovered for a touchdown. He didn't see it." 

Result: No points. No California Sweep. Raiders win. Cowboys' second loss. Now 2-2. 

"We should be 4-0 right now," Johnson said. "We screwed it up . . .


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