The Gang's All In

2004, and all he does is make three out of four, two of them from 40 yards - the first time the Cowboys have done that all season - including the clutch 46-yarder that split the uprights with one second remaining for the win.

That's something there, Mar-TEEN Gramatica, who humbly had a flair for the dramatica after badly missing his first attempt from 44 yards.

Your defense allows the Giants to drive 63 yards in just seven plays to score a touchdown, tying the game, 20-20, and your offense has but 1:00 to work with, starting off on its own 32. And I'll be, on the very first play, the first time the Cowboys call this play in this game, Romo, under duress yet again, slides to his left, buying himself and Witten some time, and finds his pal down the hash for a 42-yard completion to the Giants 26.

"It was a middle read, and (Witten) instinctively felt where the safety was," said Romo, crediting his tight end with making a great play. "The throw was supposed to be inside over his right shoulder, but when he felt me roll to my left and the safety jumped inside, he looked to the left. That's the only place I could go with the ball."

That's something there.

Then how about this: Not wanting to leave the Giants any time, and knowing you at least have a 44-yard field goal attempt if you do nothing more, the Cowboys don't take a timeout, run Marion Barber for a yard, then take a timeout with :16 left, only to have Flozell Adams falsely start, costing them five yards, and now facing a 48-yard field goal if they gain no more. The shame of it? The Giants had nine in the box guessing run on the false start, and as Parcells said, they were going to throw for the end zone.

Darn-tootin' they were, 'cuz Owens was lined up on the left, in single coverage with nary a safety in the way.

The Cowboys would gain two yards on third down after an incompletion on second, only shortening the Martin Gramatica field-goal attempt to 46 yards with :06 left.

The Cowboys called a timeout.

The Giants called a timeout.

But again, check this out, because I'm telling you, when it's in the cards, it's in the cards.

In pre-game warm-ups, Gramatica was perfect kicking to the east end zone. That's because the 10 mph wind was at his back. His range that direction was right about 53 yards, because the one 53-yarder he attempted bounced off the crossbar, but back at him.

But going the other way, the direction he badly hit that 44-yarder, killing the first drive, well, he was far less than perfect. In fact, he needed like three attempts in warm-ups to hit one from 48.

So get this: With the Cowboys kicking off to start the second half, Parcells had his choice. He could have the wind at his back in the third quarter, or he could have the wind at his back in the fourth. But to do that meant the Giants not only would get the ball trailing 10-7 to start the third quarter, but also the wind, too.

Call it intuition, a lucky call or what, there was Gramatica, lining up for the game winner with the wind at his back since Parcells opted for the fourth-quarter advantage. Hey, it used to be his stadium, kids.

"I just thank God I'm here," said the understated Gramatica of the sixth game-winner of his career.

So should the Cowboys and Parcells and Romo and the defense. And you, too.

But see, that's the thing. To win a division title, and even more, you can't ride your quarterback every darn game as the Cowboys had the previous five. You can't ride your defense, which gave up more points Sunday than in any of Romo's previous five starts. (Washington scored 22, but five were on the offense, what with the safety and blocked field goal setting up the game-winning three with no time on the clock.)

No way around this, winning consistently in the NFL has got to be a team thing, including special teams and a kicker everyone can embrace - even hug every once in a while. And it's got to be the head coach managing not only the game, but his roster. See moving Greg Ellis to outside linebacker, going with Marc Colombo at right tackle, his early handling of Owens that prevented the media from creating in a incendiary situation, changing starting quarterbacks when he did and now,

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