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T.O, T-New, Where Art Thou?

there are four players the Cowboys absolutely can't do without: Romo, Owens, Newman and DeMarcus Ware. And they were without two of those guys here on Sunday, and Romo played just one series into the third quarter. 

Hey, that's two Pro Bowlers missing, and don't forget, Andre Gurode sat, too. That's three Pro Bowlers. That's a whole lot to compensate for, and that's something the hysterics will not be willing to point out. 

You just don't remove 15 touchdown catches from your lineup without backlash, especially when your other projected preseason starter was playing for the first time this year and no more than as the nickel receiver for a half. Come on, Patrick Crayton, Sam Hurd and Austin Miles are nice players . . . in their roles. They are not T.O., and Washington knew that. 

Did you notice how many times the 'Skins were playing eight men in the box? They feared no one running by them before or after the catch. They basically said, there will be no running the ball and Jason Witten ain't catching 15 balls on us. He caught two. 

What's a Romo to do? 

"We missed Terrell," Jones said. "Certainly we missed Terrell." 

No kidding, especially when an offense setting all kinds of single-season records gets only six catches from its wide receivers, and produces season lows in total yards (147), passing yards (146) and comes up one first down short for matching the franchise's single-game low of six. 

Which means, Terrell, dude, you hang 24/7 in that hyperbaric chamber of yours. Drink some of the oxygen water they advertise, too. 

The Cowboys also missed Newman. Again. And just as badly. Come on, Jacques Reeves is a nice third-down corner - a nice backup corner. But diminishing returns set in when you play him the majority of 71 plays. 

But it's not only that. Because this was a "meaningless" game, and as I might have predicted, only meaningless in the end had they won, the Cowboys decided to take a look at Alan Ball as the nickel corner. So not only was Reeves out there, but so was the rookie Ball, taking over for Newman in the slot against three-receiver sets. Hey, Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El have given the Cowboys starters fits for two years now, not to mention tight end Chris Cooley. 

Let that sink in: Against three-receiver sets, the Cowboys traded out a Pro Bowl corner for a seventh-round draft choice making his NFL defensive debut, and then on top of that, another seventh-round draft choice replacing Pat Watkins (ankle) at safety. 

OK, they wanted Ball and Courtney Brown to get their feet wet. No one said anything about getting them soaked. 

The only way the Cowboys were going to survive was shut down Clinton Portis and get pressure on Todd Collins. They did neither, with Portis becoming the first running back to gain 100 yards against the Cowboys (104) and Collins only sacked three times and intercepted once - not near enough for 31 attempts. 

"Obviously they played at a higher level than we did," veteran defensive end Greg Ellis said. 

Don't know about you, but to me, these absences were blatantly obvious. So if you just need to know what needs to be fixed by time the Cowboys play their 3:30 p.m. (CST) divisional-round playoff game Jan. 13 at Texas Stadium against Tampa Bay, the Giants or the Redskins, here's what: 

Owens' ankle. 

Newman's knee. 

And you know what, let's throw in Gurode's knee, Watkins ankle, and oh, geesh, I forgot that knee of Jay Ratliff. 

Is that Oral Roberts guy still in business? 

So again, and this is just me, I thought it amusing either the Redskins or the somewhat excited Washington media was getting a tad carried away after the game, since the Cowboys were repeatedly posed questions about the Redskins wanting to play them again. 

Well, darn right they want to play them again. If they don't, then that means they lost. But, you know what, which Cowboys do they want to play? The ones from Sunday or the ones responsible for those 13 victories, including one over those same Redskins BTW? 

"That's fine, that's fine," Witten said, his chin stiffening a bit. "There are some guys in here who want them again, too. They'd like to see us again? Then we'd like to have them . . .

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