Temper Putting Past In Some Tidy Box

the season finale at Washington in what was a meaningless game when it came to standings and seeding. All he knows is the team played without Terrell Owens for half of the Carolina game and then the season-ender because of an injury, and that Owens wasn't near healthy for the playoff loss to the Giants.

And not sure if Tank knew this, but that 11-1 record after 12 games was the franchise's best ever, and really, did anyone think we were watching the greatest team in club history in 2007? Better than those three Super Bowl champs of the '90s and any of the five Super Bowl teams the '70s? Better than the 16-0 Patriots who thumped them by 21 for that only loss up to last year's 12-game point?

All seems like common sense to me, but then maybe sense never has anything to do with being common.

So look, let's take this year as its own entity. The Cowboys still have to play at the 9-3 Steelers, then the 11-1 Giants and 8-4 Ravens in the final two games at Texas Stadium and finally going on the road to face the 6-5-1 Eagles, who no matter what they've been this season refuse to die.

Would going 2-2 against teams with a combined record of 34-13-1 be such a crime? Would that be just another notch in that anal trend then stretching to 12 straight seasons without a winning record over the final four regular-season games? Or might that have something to do with the uptown competition?

Or for that matter, how might not having Marion Barber (toe) and DeMarcus Ware (knee), at this point no better than questionable for Sunday's game against the Steelers, affect this game or all the rest? I mean, did Romo's inexperience have anything to do with 2006 going 1-3 down the stretch or Romo completing just his first full season as a starter in 2007 having anything to do with 2-2 in the final four? Do you remember rookie Chad Hutchinson started the final nine games in 2002? Or that Troy Aikman missed the final two in 2000?

Any of that have anything to do with these final-four fades as they have become popularly known?

See it's just not fair lumping the failings of 1997 and 1998 and 1999 into dying down the stretch in 2006. It's just not fair to compare what took place the final month of the 2000-02 seasons when the Cowboys finished 5-11 each year with losing three of the final four in 2006. And why should Phillips have to account for the failings of Barry Switzer, Chan Gailey, Dave Campo and, oh yeah, almost forgot, Bill Parcells?

Funny thing I just noticed, from 1980 through 1990, 11 seasons, the Cowboys had only two winning records in the final four games of the season, going 3-1 in 1980 and 1981 - both times finishing in the NFC title game. But after that? Nine consecutive seasons going no better than .500 over the final four games, and to think Tom Landry and Jimmy Johnson were responsible for those numbers, along with going eight straight seasons without winning a playoff game.

That got anything to do with the price of green tea today?

You think Martellus Bennett knows anything about that? Why he was born in 1987, six years after the nine-year streak began. You think Orlando Scandrick knows anything about that 1997 season ending with a five-game losing streak? He was all of 10.

Heck, you think Tony Romo knows the Cowboys had to win the finale of the 1999 season to finish that final four-game stretch 2-2 just to qualify for the playoffs at .500? He was six months removed from Burlington (Wis.) High School.

These guys who have something to do with this month had little to nothing to do with this troubling legacy everyone wants make their albatross.

"I'm excited, this should be fun," Romo said as he left the locker room on Monday, again acting as if he knows something the rest of us don't, just as he did that week of the Washington game when he first returned from the broken pinkie to start the current three-game winning streak.

Says Tank, "It's exciting to know we're coming into a stretch of the season that means a lot," and went on to talk about how this team just seems to have "a good feeling" about itself.

And then there is the old vet, Zach Thomas, who

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