Just One 'Mini-Story' After Another

frigid cold of Pittsburgh for 3½ quarters, only to succumb in the end.

Now this with three games to go, and you can take your pick: Romo can't win big games, even if he has a 14-3 record in games he's started and completed on the road, and has gone into New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Buffalo, Carolina and Green Bay to win games in his short career as a starter.

Romo can't win in December, even if this is only his second December as the Cowboys full-time starter, and did go 2-1 last year in games he started and completed, and just lost his first December game this year, but knowing he was going to have to play the NFL's No. 1, 2, 3 and 7 defenses heading into last Sunday's game. And please, help me here, how many of those 20 points did Pittsburgh generate without the help of its defense or special teams? Like seven. Baby, it was cold and windy out there, and please remember that on his first interception, his receiver, Terrell Owens, sold him out, not finishing the route he was supposed to run for some unknown reason.

And now this heading into what very well could be a make-or-break game against the Giants: There is a hotly brewing conflict between Romo and Owens, to the point it's been reported the wide receivers having gone to Jason Garrett to voice their displeasure with Romo's perceived favoritism throwing to his buddy Witten.

While the meeting apparently has taken place, Phillips insists it's not a big deal or out of the ordinary, and my source tells me, rubbish, that Romo has enough on his mind reading defenses and sifting oncoming rushers to simply throw passes to his buddy. In fact, he went as far as saying maybe Romo simply throws passes to the receiver he trusts in pressure situations.

Also, I'm told, whatever took place in that meeting must not have boiled over, since Romo, Garrett, receivers coach Ray Sherman and the receivers were gathered together near the end of practice while the defense was finishing up, chatting amicably.

Maybe worse, though, there seems to be a counter story circulating, too, an unidentified player shoving Owens under the bus for throwing hydrochloric acid on whatever team chemistry is left. If any or all of this is true, that would be more damning than any number of these injuries that kept, count 'em, Ken Hamlin, Keith Davis, Marion Barber, Roy Williams, Montrae Holland, L.P. Ladouceur and Pacman Jones out of Thursday's practice - that's five starters and your deep snapper, plus one of your nickel backs/return men, who is now likely out for the season.

This would seem worse than any wide receiver shooting himself in the leg and being placed on non-football injury for the remainder of the season. A bullet injures one organ. A cancer has a way of spreading to infect many. And the Giants thought they had problems. Please come to Dallas.

They will, all right, smelling blood.

So true or not, that will be this week's "mini-story," but regardless, the Cowboys will have to deal with the reality of these reports or the perception they create, which sometimes is far worse than the truth. And since this is a 7:15 p.m. (CST) kickoff on Sunday, every pregame TV show on Sunday - Isn't there at least six national ones? - and the postgame shows, too, the ones after the noon starts and 3:15 p.m. starts, will be able to dissect the merits of these reports over and over and over again before the game even starts. Plus, throw in Plaxico Burress' deal and let the salivating begin.

They got Cowboys, they got T.O., they got Romo - better and juicier entertainment than any grocery store checkout line can provide.

So there go the Cowboys and you, too, again. And unfortunately, there now is only one solution to all of this, as there has been for most of this soap opera of a season:

Win.

Seems to cure all.

And Romo knows that, too.

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