The Cowboys prevailed once more on Saturday, quarterback Drew Bledsoe orchestrating his fifth game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime. The victory kept the Cowboys' playoff hopes alive, but they still need a win on New Year's Day in their regular-season finale against the St. Louis Rams at Texas Stadium, plus a little help along the way.
The Cowboys (9-6) cannot guarantee themselves a playoff berth with a victory over the St. Louis Rams Sunday night in their regular-season finale at Texas Stadium, but a victory does at least give them a chance if they encounter from good fortune along the way, such as Washington or Carolina getting beat on Sunday. The Cowboys' matchup against St. Louis would be of little importance if not for their stunning victory over the Carolina Panthers on Christmas Eve, quarterback Drew Bledsoe orchestrating yet another fourth-quarter comeback, this time connecting with Terry Glenn on an 2-yard pass with 24 seconds left to secure the 24-20 victory.
The St. Louis Rams' playoff aspirations were silenced several weeks ago, so the Rams will be looking to play the role of spoiler against the Cowboys. St. Louis began the season 2-1, but has been at or below .500 ever since. The Rams (5-10) were able to pack an offensive punch earlier this season despite the absence of starting quarterback Marc Bulger, scoring 28 and 24 points in a pair of victories without Bulger. The Rams, who are 3-4 without Bulger, have lost four straight, including a 24-20 loss to San Francisco on Christmas Eve. The Rams are averaging just 14.5 points per game in their last four games.
- With 98 receptions for 1,291 yards and nine touchdowns this season, Rams receiver Torry Holt has surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for the sixth straight season. Holt is just two receptions shy of recording the second 100-catch season of his career, and is just one touchdown shy of scoring 10 or more touchdowns for three consecutive seasons.
- Rams running back Steven Jackson, one of several running backs the Cowboys passed on in the 2004 draft in lieu of Julius Jones and an extra first-round draft choice in 2005, eclipsed the 1000-yard mark for the first time in his career. Jackson, who supplanted Marshall Faulk as the permanent starter this season, currently has rushed for 1,046 yards and eight touchdowns - just 94 yards more than Jones.
- Quarterback Marc Bulger has compiled a 94.4 passer rating in eight starts this season. While the Rams have struggled to find a replacement as efficient, Jamie Martin - who has started four games this year, and will start again against the Cowboys - has managed to complete 72.4 percent of his passes for an 86.0 passer rating, despite throwing more interceptions (seven) than touchdowns (5).
- The Rams' most feared pass-rushing specialist, defensive end Leonard Little, has seven sacks this year. Little, who had a three-year stretch of 10 or more sacks from 2001-03, also recorded seven sacks last year.
The Rams' defense is statistically among the league's worst in nearly every category, ranking 30th in total yards allowed per game (355.4), 30th in run defense (141.4 yards per game) and 22nd in pass defense (214 yards per game). St. Louis has allowed a league-high 22 rushing touchdowns this season and the third-most first downs by run (114). The 13 runs of 20 or more yards allowed by the Rams also ranks in the bottom five.
The Rams have started three different players at quarterback this season because of the shoulder injury to starter Marc Bulger, but St. Louis still has possessed a potent offensive attack despite the instability at quarterback. St. Louis ranks ninth in total yards (354.5 yards per game). The Rams also are fourth in passing, averaging 259.3 yards per game. Despite attempting the fifth-fewest amount of run plays (347) in the league, St. Louis has still amassed 1,429 yards on the ground. Each of the Rams' three quarterbacks to start this season has at least one, 300-yard passing performance, most recently Martin, who threw for a career-high 354 against San Francisco.
- Cowboys linebacker Scott Shanle - A seventh-round (251st overall) pick by St. Louis in the 2003 NFL Draft, Shanle primarily played on special teams with the Rams before being waived on Dec. 9, 2003 and claimed by the Cowboys on Dec. 10. Shanle recorded three tackles his rookie season.
- Rams running back Aveion Cason - Spent one season with the Cowboys in 2003, rushing for a career-high 220 yards (5.5 average) and two touchdowns. In Cason's first game as a Cowboy against the Atlanta Falcons, Cason had a 63-yard touchdown run.
- Rams offensive lineman Ben Noll - Spent parts of the 2004 and '05 seasons with the Cowboys, playing in and starting one game - the '04 season finale against the New York Giants - before returning to the Rams this season. The Cowboys originally signed him when the Rams tried to waive him and then place him on the practice squad.
- Rams linebacker Dexter Coakley - Originally a third-round pick out of Appalachian State in 1997, Coakley spent eight illustrious seasons at weak-side linebacker with the Cowboys, amassing 723 tackles in his career. Coakley, now on injured reserve after dislocating his left ankle earlier this month, missed only one game in eight seasons with the Cowboys.
Interim head coach Joe Vitt has compiled a 3-7 record after replacing head coach Mike Martz earlier this season after Martz was diagnosed with endocarditis - a bacterial infection of the heart valve . . . Rams receiver Isaac Bruce, who has started only nine games this season, likely will fail to reach the 1,000-yard mark for only the second time in the last seven seasons. Bruce has 35 receptions for 517 yards and three touchdowns . . . The Rams are 2-5 on the road this season.