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Eating Your Heart Out


Last Pass: The Cowboys were putrid to start Monday Night Football at Texas Stadium against the Giants. But somehow, as they did in Philly, they recovered, and were poised to take an inexplicable 14-12 halftime lead. 

They had just scored a touchdown, and Bradie James followed by recovering a Tiki Barber fumble. The Cowboys were sitting at the Giants 4, second-and-goal with 1:38 remaining in the half. Plenty of time. Four measly yards and the halftime lead was theirs. 

Bledsoe took the snap, took one step back, looked left and tried to hit Terry Glenn on a back-shoulder throw at the goal line. The pass never had a chance. Bad read. Giants corner Sam Madison jumped the route, not only intercepting, but ripping the life out of the Texas Stadium crowd. 

That not only would be Bledsoe's last intercepted pass of his NFL career, but also his last pass of his NFL career, Parcells pulling the plug in favor of Romo the rest of the way that night and the season. 

What if, though, Bledsoe had gone the other way to Terrell Owens as his read should have indicated? What if the Cowboys had taken that lead? What if Romo never had to step into that primetime fray, ending in a Giants' 36-22 victory?   

Capital Offense: Alas, here came the final separation, the Cowboys seemingly beating the Redskins to a pulp, yet leading only 19-12 with less than five minutes left in the third quarter, when Romo heaved this beauty of a spiral probably standing at his 20, the ball piercing the nation's capital air for some 65 yards. 

An ever prettier sight was Owens having split Shawn Springs and Troy Vincent, leaving the Skins in his dust and running easily under the ball at the Washington 15. Splat! He dropped the ball. Plum dropped what would have been a 74-yard touchdown pass to give the Cowboys a 26-12 lead over the struggling Redskins. 

Oh my gosh. 

And you painfully know the rest of this story, the Redskins tying the game at 19, then, not only blocking Mike Vanderjagt's 35-yard field goal attempt with six seconds remaining, not only recovering the ball and returning it to the Cowboys' 45 with no time remaining on the clock, but receiving 15 yards and one more play because of a facemask penalty charged to Kyle Kosier way back down field. 

Kidding me? 

Kid I do not, Nick Novak then hitting from 47-yards out in extra time for Washington's improbable 22-19 victory. Yet again, what if . . . what if Owens ends up with 86 catches and 14 touchdown receptions in 2006 instead of one less of each?   

Bushed: OK, the Cowboys ended up getting creamed, 42-17, by the Saints, starting their December collapse, losing three of their final four games - all at home. But you know, they were hanging there for a while after another one of those horrendous starts, trailing 21-7 at halftime, then 21-10 after their first possession of the third quarter. 

They were a score away from being back in this game billed as the battle for a first-round playoff bye between two 8-4 teams. But on the Saints' next possession, they died a sudden death when they got am-Bushed, leading NBC analyst for this nationally-televised Sunday night game John Madden to say, "I don't care what the game is, I'm picking Reggie Bush first." 

Yes, that Bush, who turned an innocent-enough swing pass on first-and-10 from his own 39 into an electrifying 61-yard touchdown, weaving through a Cowboys defense as if it were seemingly playing 9-on-11 - as if he was one of those little animated dudes on Madden 07 or something. 

Yeah, I know, the Saints ended up scoring 42. But here's what has to be hard to swallow. The Cowboys scored the next possession, and without Bush's run, might have climbed back into the game, 21-17. And who knows after that, because even if the Saints had scored again, guarantee you Sean Payton doesn't have the guts to order up an onside kick at 28-17 as he did at 35-17. 

Like, what if Houston had done what it was supposed to have done and drafted Reggie Bush instead? Darn Texans.   

Fav Five: When you lose a playoff game on the road, 21-20, as the Cowboys did to close out their season, the ifs and buts mount to Ranier heights, as they did

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