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Doomed In One Play

scored two touchdowns. 

"We played well all game until . . . that play," rookie Marcus Spears said. 

That play. One play, second-and-three at the Broncos 39, a simple handoff to Dayne, who was heading right, but cut back to the left. The Cowboys were thinking run, having moved into their 4-3 front with Spears and Chris Canty at the ends, Glover and Jason Ferguson at the tackles and Scott Fujuta, Bradie James and DeMarcus Ware at the linebackers. 

"Solid" is what the Cowboys call the alignment, yet they were anything but solid. First Ferguson missed the tackle at the line of scrimmage when the burly Dayne cut back into the hole. Then Roy Williams, up in the box, didn't take on the fullback, and instead of standing up to the block, he became no factor crumbling to the guy's feet, giving himself up. And coming up to save the day about that time, for what might have been a mere five-yard gain, safety Keith Davis whiffed. 

Nuttin' but clear sailing for Dayne. 

"I got to make that," Davis said. "It's completely me. I got to make the tackle. I tried to reach out and grab him, and I missed." 

He wasn't alone. 

"He cut back and I missed a tackle," Ferguson said. "It was right there. We were there all day, but one thing about this league, you got to play the whole game. 

"And sometimes, you got to play more." 

And that was all she wrote. 

So if this was a test for the Cowboys to see if they could play with the team with the second-best record in the AFC, they passed. The Broncos, now 9-2, and running away with the AFC West if San Diego (6-4) doesn't win at Washington on Sunday, were tough and resilient, considering they only had two days of practice before traveling here for the holiday game. In fact, the Cowboys played the Broncos' pants off. 

If this was a test to see if the Cowboys were legitimate contenders for their own division title, they passed again. Though struggling on offense again, they did score three touchdowns, put up 314 total yards and were within a 34-yard field goal of winning this game in regulation. 

But here is the problem: "We know we can compete with anybody," said veteran corner Aaron Glenn, who briefly had his lights turned out defending that deep pass in the final two minutes. "I think we are a good team, period, win or lose. 

"But what we want is to go out and win." 

The Cowboys didn't. 

Now they are 7-4, and interested observers of the Giants (7-3) playing Sunday in Seattle to see if they will have a share of first place in the NFC East come Sunday night or trail the Giants by a game heading into their next game, Dec. 4 at the Giants. Nothing is lost if their goal is to win the NFC East. That's still there. 

"We didn't win," James said, "but it's not the end of our season. It's not over." 

Nope, only this one is, and what a one it was, until the ghost of Thanksgiving past paid an unwelcomed visit on that one, last play.   


!   This was the third time this season Drew Bledsoe has thrown two interceptions in a game. The Cowboys survived the first, coming from behind to beat San Francisco, 34-31. But they lost in Seattle, 13-10, and then again here today. Bledsoe's first was just an errant pass that happened to land in Champ Bailey's lap. The second, though, he forced down the hash, and failed to read the safety, Nick Ferguson, doubling Terry Glenn.   
!   What the stats won't show, is that the next time the Cowboys had the ball, they pumped on the quick out to the tight end, and when Bailey jumped the route, Bledsoe easily threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Keyshawn Johnson, who Bailey had left on the pump fake. 
!   That 20-yard touchdown pass to Rod Smith over Aaron Glenn, shouldn't be on the veteran corner. The Cowboys had an all-out blitz going, and Glenn

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