Notes from a Football Weekend

andrewCorrespondent IOctober 14, 2008’s Stewart Mandel reports from Dallas: “Mack Brown walked into his postgame news conference at the Cotton Bowl on Saturday with a beat-red face, disheveled hair and sweat-drenched Texas polo shirt. Having just survived the most grueling, back-and-forth edition of his 11-year rivalry with Oklahoma counterpart Bob Stoops, the Longhorns’ coach took a moment to reflect on his fifth-ranked team’s 45-35 conquest of the No. 1 Sooners – ‘one of the greatest football games I’ve ever seen,’ he called it — before putting the win in its proper perspective. ‘Winning this game makes next week’s game against Missouri even bigger,’ said Brown (left). ‘It puts us in a different place, and now we’re playing for a bigger goal.’”

The Longhorns ascended to No. 1 in the AP Top 25 during the regular season for the first time in 24 years in the wake of their resounding 45-35 victory over Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry on Saturday. Texas, previously ranked fifth, made the largest jump to No. 1 in a single week since Miami went from No. 6 to No. 1 on Aug. 29, 1988.


With the NFL, the trade deadline is more dead than anything else. Though speculation has centered around such high-profile players such as Detroit wide receiver Roy Williams and Kansas City tight end Tony Gonzalez have surfaced, no star is expected to be traded. If any trades go down — and they rarely do — they are expected to be of the “B” list players, not the headliners. Players that have been shopped in recent days include Dolphins quarterback John Beck and Lions wide receiver Shaun McDonald. Of course, the interest in each player has been, at best, minimal. Since the summer the Dolphins have attempted to trade Beck to no avail. At one point in the spring, the Dallas Cowboys expressed a modicum of interest and even offered a player that Bill Parcells once drafted. But the Dolphins rejected that offer.”


Considering that the crazy win the Cardinals got over the Cowboys on Sunday - remember that it was the first time in NFL history that an OT game was decided on a blocked punt - I thought it would be appropriate to publish:


1. Tony Romo’s inability to win the big game is not a fluke.

Whatever that indescribable ability to will a team to victory  — think Johnny Unitas or John Elway –  Romo doesn’t have it. He doesn’t protect the ball well enough and, while he might be a leader in the locker room, the results of his leadership aren’t showing up on the field.

2. T.O. is due for some problems.

Owens is good for about one season before his mental issues get in the way. It’s a miracle he’s been productive this long for the Cowboys. But Owens is showing telltale signs of a major blowup on the horizon. He’s complained about not getting the ball enough and had an unusually emotional postgame press conference. Defenses are paying a lot of attention to Owens and playing very aggressively against the big receiver, which is fueling a lot of his frustration.

3. Adam Jones was a mistake.

Jones’ on-field production isn’t worth the off-field headaches. The Cowboys’ pass defense is falling apart as the season continues and Jones has done little on the field to distinguish himself. His continued off-field issues point to a lack of professionalism in that locker room, and his teammates have to resent him after his latest incident with one of his bodyguards and likely league suspension.

4. Special teams.

Pin the loss to the Cardinals right on this unit’s coaching staff. Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt said Arizona exploited the Cowboys’ flawed blocking scheme on the game-winning blocked punt in overtime. This is a dangerous area to neglect for a supposed Super Bowl team.

5. Lack of accountability.

The Cowboys have lost two games to less talented teams in the last three weeks and almost let the Bengals pull off the upset in Dallas. Coming into the season, head coach Wade Phillips was the biggest question mark. Now it seems his laid-back attitude isn’t the best fit for this collection of Pro Bowlers.

The Cowboys turn to 40-year-old Brad Johnson for at least the next three games. They could easily drop two of those (at St. Louis, Tampa Bay, at Giants) and still sneak into the playoffs thanks to a soft schedule down the stretch.

But once again, the Cowboys will fail to meet their expectations if they reach the postseason. Even when Romo gets healthy, Dallas’ flaws will sabotage any success it’s capable of. No one can question their talent. That will get them to a certain point, but then attitude takes over, and the ‘Boys haven’t gotten that right yet. This is a team built to make the playoffs, but doesn’t have the right recipe for success once they get there.



Jordan Larson, a senior wide receiver at St. Paul Central High, hauled in two touchdowns in the last five seconds of regulation to help the Minutemen force overtime against rival St. Paul Johnson, where they’d lock down a 25-18 victory and at least a share of the school’s first St. Paul City Conference title in 20 years.