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It's Time

!The Cowboys 10 months ago lost 34-3 in Minnesota ending their dreams of playing in the Super Bowl.

possible, almost probable. The Vikings are only favored by 1½ points, and home-stadium advantage is usually worth three, so those guys aren't sold on what the Vikings are selling so far. 

Which brings us to Phil Simms, who helped call the Cowboys miserable 34-27 loss to Tennessee this past Sunday on CBS, so he had an up-close view of these Cowboys, No. 2 in total offense, No. 8 in total defense but tied for 25th in winning percentage. Haven't seen this quoted anywhere in the blogosphere, but then this has nothing to do with Tony Dungy chastising Tony Romo for turnovers from afar or someone claiming Mark Colombo is a dirty player. 

See, Simms at halftime of the Monday night game was asked on the national radio broadcast which team he thought could best pull out of one of these early-season nose dives, knowing the Cowboys and Vikings were 1-3, that Cincinnati and San Diego were no better than 2-3, and really, some of the early Super Bowl favorites, like Indianapolis, Houston, New Orleans and Green Bay already had two losses. 

Simms said, "The Dallas Cowboys." 

Imagine that. 

And to begin this long, arduous digging out process at Minnesota, here is what has to happen that did not happen nine months ago: Score more than three points. Brilliant, huh? 

Look, chances are Minnesota is going to score at least 17 to 20 points, especially with Moss back again. It's unreasonable to think the Cowboys will hold the Vikings to no more than the two, non-garbage time field goals as they did both Washington and Houston. So don't come back here on Sunday night with three measly points. 

How to do that, how to counter the incessant noise that paralyzed the Cowboys offense last time? 

Please, allow me. 

First of all, be judicious with shotgun formation. Romo's too far from everyone to hear in shotgun. So under center more. Next, be judicious with changing the play at the line of scrimmage. Communication will be at a minimum. Don't be letting the play clock run under five seconds all the time, which allows those peeping Vikings to have a better idea when the ball is being snapped. 

And ... and ... for gosh sakes run the ball. Not more, but more effectively. Yeah, I know I'm starting to sound like a broken record. But hey, what happened this past Sunday when the Cowboys scored 27 points? The Cowboys only ran the ball 23 times in 75 plays, and because they did score 27 points we didn't hear any cries about a play-calling disparity, having thrown the ball 46 times. 

But what happened? The Cowboys rushed for 141 yards, averaging 6.1 yards a carry. Felix Jones, not the starting back, but the lead dog, rushed for a regular-season high 109 yards, averaging 7.1 yards a carry. 

That right there is what I'm talking about. Make the Vikings respect the run, just as Tennessee had to do, getting out of its cozy Tampa 2 defense and forced to drop a safety into the box. You saw the passing results. 

The Cowboys running the ball successfully will accomplish four things: Keep the Vikings and Brett Favre's bombs-away attack off the field; shorten third-down situations; either quiet the crowd or make Romo's signals easier to hear if not always in shotgun for definite passing situations; and open up those passing lanes for Miles Austin, Roy Williams, and at this point, they hope Dez Bryant, who is questionable with that blasted ankle again. 

We cool on that? 

Oh, another thing. How 'bout get the first lead of the game for a change? In four games, here is what the Cowboys have faced: Trailing 10-0 at Washington; trailing 3-0 vs. Chicago and then 10-7; trailing 3-0 vs. Houston; and trailing 10-0 and 17-3 vs. Tennessee. 

No rules against scoring first, and if you do, don't take any unnecessary chances. Just hand the ball to the nearest guy in black and white stripes. Or say a prayer. Somethun'. Just no somersaults. Pink is in this month in the NFL, not yellow. 

We good on all this? 

Let the digging begin, no matter the odds. 

"It's not over, it's not over, not over by any stretch," said Orlando Scandrick earlier in the week. "One play at a time, one play at a time. The easiest way to get out of a hole, one play at a time, one game at a time." 


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