Cowboys Better Bolt Out Of Gate Against Bucs

Sunday.

You watch.

And you know, this game won't be an easy one either, no matter Tampa Bay left a bad impression at the end of the 2008 season, losing the final four games to not only drop from 9-3 to 9-7 and out of the playoffs, but to also cause the Glazers to fire head coach Jon Gruden. Who knows, losing to the Cowboys 13-9 while facing Brad Johnson might have precipitated the move, too.

First of all, it's a road game, and one in Tampa, Fla., in early September, meaning the average temperature is 89 that time of year. And because Tampa is by the bay and just like 15 miles from the Gulf, can you say high humidity?

Second, the Bucs have a new coach, Raheem Morris. That means the Bucs will change from what they've done, so the Cowboys won't know as much about what they will do offensively since last year's game tape is basically obsolete, especially since who knows who will be the starting quarterback with Jeff Garcia gone. Might be Josh McCown. Might be Brian Griese. Might be the recently-signed Byron Leftwich. And who knows anything about Josh Johnson.

These types of teams are so dangerous.

And it's not as if the league will issue the Cowboys a mulligan on this opener, either. The next game is against the Giants to open the new stadium in Arlington, Texas. A nationally-televised night game at that, and against a 12-4 team from a year ago which claimed the NFC East title and the top seed in the NFC playoffs.

Next is Carolina, another nationally-televised game, this one on Monday night against Carolina at the new stadium, the Panthers only the NFC South defending champs who finished with a 12-4 record last year.

And the fourth game sends the Cowboys a Mile High, to Denver to face the Broncos, another team under a first-year head coach (Josh McDaniels) and with a new quarterback (Kyle Orton).

The Cowboys better Usain Bolt out of the gates . . . or else.

If you don't think so, remember what Daryl Johnston said about six weeks ago when discussing the Cowboys' 2008 season and how they flamed out in that Philly Finale or was that Folly?

"What's the last thing you remember about the Dallas Cowboys?" Johnston asked. "A lot of people say quitting in Philadelphia, which, let me tell you, it's going to be hard for them at the beginning of the year to get that memory out of Cowboys fans' minds.

"That's their biggest challenge. That is a tough, tough loss to finish the year on. Everything on the line, win and you're in, and to play that style is a tough one to get through.

"That, to me, is their biggest challenge (for 2009)."

And that challenge begins in earnest on Sept. 13, 2009, at high noon in Tampa's Raymond James Stadium against those Buccaneers wanting nothing more than to get even for 2008.

A game the Cowboys had better win, otherwise 2009 will pick up where 2008 left off, surrounded in discontent.

I'm telling you.

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