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Must Plug Defensive Breach

year in that 49-21 wipe out at Texas Stadium and 23 in 2003 in that 23-21 victory, the lone Cowboys' victory over Philly in the past 10 games. And they needed that odd onside-kick return for a touchdown by Randal Williams to get to 23. 

Raiders head coach Norv Turner must be encouraged by quarterback Kerry Collins' performance against the Eagles, completing 24 of 42 passes for 345 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. And he does have the likes of Moss and Jerry Porter and Alvis Whitted at wide receiver. 

Plus, know the Raiders are averaging 281.7 passing yards over three games - third in the NFL - and that Collins does have a 95.9 quarterback rating. And don't you kid yourself, you bet the Raiders understand how much the Cowboys have been struggling in pass defense, currently ranking 24th in that category (232 yards a game). 

And I'll guarantee you they know that most of the Cowboys' defensive struggles have come against teams throwing out three-receiver sets - just what the Niners did a whole lot of on Sunday - which gets their safeties involved in coverage. 

See, when facing three receivers on first or second down, the Cowboys have stubbornly stuck with their 3-4 defense instead of going to their nickel. 

"So our expectations were they were going to use three wide receivers, especially on early downs to spread us out a little bit and try to run it," Parcells said of the Niners offense. "You know, you don't want the offense to dictate what you're going to be playing . . . you just don't want them to say, OK, every time we put this in there they are putting that in there. 

"That can hurt you just as badly because it takes away some of the versatility of your defense. You don't have enough ammo in there." 

Understand. But what happens, is the Cowboys then are forced to put their outside linebacker to the slot receiver's side in the slot, trying to reroute the receiver and then relying on the safeties for coverage over the top. And that's exactly what happened on Tim Rattay's 89-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Lloyd. 

The Niners went with three receivers, the slot guy to their right, and the Cowboys stayed in their standard defense. And when the slot receiver started to run a drag route across the middle from right to left, Cowboys safety Keith Davis, who was on the right side of the defense, saw the receiver crossing into his territory open and then failed to help right corner Anthony Henry on the deep ball to Lloyd. 

"There was no vertical threat on that side; the only receiver on his side was the guy who caught the ball," Parcells said of Davis. "That's part of the grocery list we have. 

"A tenth of a second after the snap, he should have looked for the X (Lloyd)." 

Hey, but that's basically the same way Roy Williams played the two fourth-quarter touchdown passes in the Washington game, getting caught looking inside and not helping the cornerback. And in both of those cases, while the Cowboys did go to their nickel defense, they were playing zone, the slot guy (Terence Newman) only responsible for the underneath stuff. 

So all totaled, let's see, in the past five quarters, the Cowboys have given up touchdown passes of 39 yards, 70 yards, 15 yards, 89 yards and 13 yards. Then add the 20-yard and seven-yard touchdown receptions by San Diego's Keenan McCardell, and there you have it, seven touchdown passes in three games covering a grand total of 253 yards - 36 yards a TD. 

That means 37 percent of all the passing yards the Cowboys have given up (696) have accounted for touchdowns. Maybe indeed they are fortunate to be 2-1. 

They had better get this checked off their grocery list soon - real soon. Like in three days, if that's even possible. Because the Raiders are coming, and they now bring Moss with them. And that's Randy now, not some Santana. 

Better start stacking them sandbags, and real high, too.   


!   Wonder what in the world the Jets are thinking, brining back the 41-year-old Vinny Testaverde instead of Quincy Carter? Something to do with a

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