Kicking Is More Than Kicking

Seahawk happened to pass between Allen and Cortez, and maybe something everyone and no one wanted to see.

Unfortunately, the Fox TV cameras stayed with the tableau after the kick to show one of the most unseemly displays we've witnessed.

Here's what we see, plain as day and big as a 20-pound Coho salmon: Center L.P. Ladouceur sends the snap so wide right, holder Tony Romo's right knee has to lift off the ground for him to catch the ball. Somehow, Romo does an amazing job of retrieving the ball, setting it down, spinning the laces and putting it right where Cortez needed it anyway.

Then we see Cortez miss the kick. Then we see him immediately turn to look at a still-kneeling Romo, extend his arms in front of him in Romo's direction and screw up his face, plainly as if to say, "What was that? Why didn't you put the ball down for me where I needed it?"

Cortez can deny he did that until the cows come home and the rain in Seattle stops. We saw what we saw. Romo claims not to have seen it, but there's no doubt what that move was: An attempt to show up a teammate and deflect blame from where it belonged.

Had Cortez made that kick, there would have been no reason for Bledsoe to ever throw that last errant pass. Dallas would have been running out the clock and in all probability the Seahawks would have had no chance to set up their kicker, Josh Brown, who managed to nail a 55-yarder and the game winner from 50.

Lest we be too harsh on Jose Cortez, though, he is what he is. He's knocked around the NFL for the better part of six years with a 71-per cent field-goal average. He'll have some good days, like he did against Philadelphia at Texas Stadium. He'll have some good kicks, like the 45-yarder that beat the Giants in overtime.

And he'll do some things that draw out the baser instincts in Larry Allen. Good luck to him in Philly.

Into this fray steps jade-green rookie Shaun Suisham, who kicked for the Steelers in preseason and was good enough in a tryout a few weeks ago to be signed to the practice squad in Dallas. Some Cowboys insiders believe it's no coincidence that when Suisham was released from the practice squad, Cortez, facing no competition, began to deteriorate in practice.

Suisham may stick around long enough to get a chance against the Cardinals this week. Or not. Reportedly Dallas has been high on France, who was released by the Eagles to make room for Cortez. Who knows? He could be signed and at Valley Ranch by the time you read this.

Or the Cowboys could muddle through this week and in Philadelphia following the bye, and then they'd be allowed to re-sign Cundiff, whose injury settlement period would be up after Week 10. Or they may have three more kickers by New Year's.

I know this: If I'm Jose Cortez, I'm kissing up to Thomas and Dawkins. And if I'm Shaun Suisham, I'm making Gatorade runs for Larry Allen starting now.

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