Don't Worry About It

essentials if a team has any aspirations of making the playoffs and then some noise in the playoffs. 

So rejoice. 

The Cowboys ran for 149 yards, that after rushing for just 58 against the Eagles on 24 carries, and an even more alarming 24 yards on 22 of those carries that night. And the Cowboys slammed the door shut on the Lions' running game, holding them to 57 yards on 19 carries on the heels of the Eagles' 181-yard performance this past Monday night. 

This is huge, and by doing both keeps those worms La'Roi Glover was talking about late in the week right there in the proverbial can. No squirming around. 

Start with the Cowboys' run defense. Kevin What's-His-Name had 29 yards. Averaged 2.9 yards a carry. He wasn't pointing to the Jones on his back, seeing that the other Jones running the ball this day had 73 more yards than he had. All those moaning the Cowboys passed on Kevin Jones and settled for what turned out to be Julius Jones and Marcus Spears, go ahead, get your hands high in the air. 

The Lions' longest run Sunday was 14 yards. After that, it was eight. This is more like what the Cowboys had thrown down the four games prior to the Eagles game, limiting opponents to an average of 63 yards a game rushing. 

"We definitely wanted to put what happened last week behind us a little bit," Glover said. 

Consider that done, the Lions leaving here with just 226 total yards, the third-fewest against the Cowboys this season. And, most importantly, leading by a rather spooky 20-7 score - I'm guessing you had not forgotten Monday night - the Cowboys closed this game at their own 41-yard line when Greg Ellis slapped the ball out of Joey Harrington's passing hand and Dat Nguyen recovered with 4:18 remaining to sew up this game. 

And . . . and . . . did you like the way the Cowboys ran the ball? Did you? Still got a problem with Julius Jones getting 21 carries and Marion Barber getting 15 carries and Tyson Thompson getting two carries? Did that tandem plus Thompson look like a weakness to you because one guy wasn't the man

Should have seen the smile on Julius Jones' face about an hour after the game. It said, best I felt in weeks. It said, I finally could make some cuts. It said, man, glad to be back. 

Jones got the start, just the way Parcells has wanted this, putting a can on all those national know-it-alls who felt compelled to react to Barber's 127-yard performance by proclaiming him the starter. What you must understand is they get paid dearly to make a stand, not be right. 

Barber came in when the Cowboys went to their three-receiver formation, and actually twice split the backfield with Jones. He ran for 53 yards and scored the two touchdowns on runs of six and four yards. 

That's the plan, and it has nothing to do with Jones being injury prone. Remember, Parcells wanted Barber in the fourth-round of the draft for a reason, and that was before Jones ever suffered that painful high ankle sprain he told me he had never experienced previously in his athletic career. 

So as you digest this win and put your game-face on early this week for Thanksgiving Day, just remember this: Run the ball and stop the run. Do those two things, and you got a head start on winning in this league. 

As for the rest . . . "Give Detroit credit," Jerry Jones reasoned at the end of the day, "for not letting us beat them in a fashionable or pretty way." 

Just forget about this middle game of the three-game stretch, always the hardest, especially this year's when sandwiched between the high-profile Monday night game at Philadelphia and the nationally-televised Thanksgiving Day game against Denver, owners of the next best record in the NFL. You just need to get through that game. 

Now, just move on. Play it forward.   

MICK SHOTS

 
  The Cowboys' new, old kicker, Billy Cundiff, said it's good to be nice to people, because a whole bunch of people helped him out so he could return Sunday to kick for the Cowboys nearly 13 weeks since he tore that quad muscle the

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