In A Sad State Of Disbelief

  • The most freakish safety you've ever


A dropped snap on the potential game-winning field goal attempt that was no more than a extra-point from the right hash on the very next play.

You believing that? Any of that? Get outta town.

"Kind of feels surreal," punter Mat McBriar said, standing off to the side in the locker room sort of overseeing all the emotional carnage. "And then you feel physically sick."

To their every stomach.

OK, the defense wasn't perfect. But those much-maligned guys getting it from all sides - even from Jon Kitna - actually gave up only 19 points, and the Seahawks needed a couple of ticky-tack holds on one-field drive and only 50 yards of real estate to manage following the safety-ensuing free kick for what turned out to be their winning touchdown.

OK, safety Roy Williams got beat by Jerramy Stevens for one touchdown when the Cowboys stubbornly stayed in their base 3-4 defense despite the Seahawks spreading them out with three receivers. And Williams was little help to a desperately scrambling Bradie James trying to keep pace on Stevens' second touchdown from 37 yards out when, yes, once again the Cowboys eschewed moving to their nickel defense against the Seahawks' three-receiver set to erase a 20-15 lead with 4:24 left.

But come on, giving up 19 points in a playoff game? You can't fault those guys. Not on the road. Not when holding the playoff-hardened Matt Hasselbeck to a pedestrian 66.9 QB rating. Not when holding Shaun Alexander to a mere 49 yards on 23 carries until he busted that 20-yarder from his own 2 on the next play following the aborted field-goal attempt. Not when picking off two passes.

Guarantee me that, I'd have booked a flight to Chicago. Or New Orleans.

Or tell me Romo doesn't get picked off. Tell me Jones rushes for 112 yards. Tell me Romo completes 17 of 29 passes. Tell me the Cowboys only get whistled for one false start. Tell me rookie Miles Austin goes 93 yards for the Cowboys' first kickoff return for a touchdown in playoff history.

Tell me it doesn't rain.

Then I'm telling you, Cowboys win.

But they didn't, largely because this team not once, not twice, but thrice redefined The Longest Yard, Burt Reynolds nowhere in sight.

First time: Third-and-1 at the Seattle 10, leading 17-13, with 10:59 left in the game. With the knockout punch ready, Marion Barber gets stuffed for no gain, and Gramatica then hits a 29-yard field goal with 10:15 remaining for only a 20-13, precarious seven-point lead.

Second time: Second-and-7 at the Seattle 8, 1:53 remaining and trailing 21-20, Romo quickly hits Jason Witten over the middle for what the side officials ruled a first down at the 1. Then came the booth-summoned review. Then came Anderson's reversal of the spot, nearly unheard of in this game, leaving the Cowboys one yard short of the all-important first down.

"I thought we had the first down there," said Witten of his 6-yard hook route that he appeared to bull to the 1 and past the yellow TV first-down line before getting shoved backward. "Thought we had the spot. If I had known, I would have gone down on the first guy, instead of fighting like that."

Third time: Even after Romo plum dropped the snap for what amounted to an extra point on the very next play, he was able to gather the ball, right himself, and roll to his left, and it must have seemed like slow motion as he was heading toward the goal line, the goal line and victory fast approaching with Jordan Babineaux in hot pursuit. Babineaux barely got a hand on him from behind, slowing him up just enough for the backwash to send him down at the 2 - yep, one long yard short of the first down.


"When I first started to (run), I felt like there was a chance for a second," Romo said of his mad scramble, then letting his voice trail off into obvious depression. "You practice a lot of things, and you think of a lot of things that dictate the outcome of a game, and you don't think of that.

"I cost the Dallas Cowboys a

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