It's a FISH on FOOTBALL Wednesday.
notes from everywhere, the sidelines, the press box, even the team hotel ...
TASTER'S CHOICE: Back when the Cowboys players took their tour of the new stadium, and Tashard Choice came armed with a video camera, I realized that this kid speaks a different language than the rest of us. His postgame interview on ESPN demonstrated to the rest of the world what we Cowboys followers already knew: He's a character. There is some funny stuff about to be tapped-into if Choice stays in the spotlight. The next step for the suddenly-explosive pass-rusher Victor Butler (with two sacks in just five snaps): Is he a "special player,'' or is he a "specialist''? Props to Terence Newman, who rose to the occasion on a big night with a series of big plays. Was he lucky that Steve Smith miscalculated on his route, leaving the ball to be thrown right to T-New's hands for a game-clinching Pick Six? But maybe Smith ran the wrong route because Newman spent the night inside Smith's head (not to mention almost inside his jersey). Newman took Smith apart, mentally and physically, and that part isn't luck.
IS IT ‘DALLAS COWBOYS STADIUM'?: Was it just me, or did Mike Tirico constantly mis-identify the new building as "Dallas Cowboys Stadium''? I'd like for Roy Williams to have caught that potential TD catch. (Of course, at the risk of harping on the same issue for the second straight week, I'd have liked the goal-line sequence even more if Dallas hadn't even bothered trying to throw consecutive lobs to Roy and to Marty B.) But Williams was a factor against Carolina, with more downfield blocking and a total of four catches - marking the first time in his 13 games as a Cowboy that he's done that. I'm a pop-culture-reference kind of guy, so I'm jealous of Rafael for having worked "The Two Jakes'' into a headline before I - and the rest of the world - thought of it. I despise calling somebody "injury-prone.'' It has horrible connotations and it tends to stick to a guy unfairly. So we won't call Felix Jones "injury-prone.''
WHERE'S BARBER? WHO CARES?: Let's please not make a controversy out of Marion Barber's absence from the sidelines, OK? We can assume he wanted to play. We can assume he was miffed at the decision to hold him back. And beyond that, I don't care what he did on Monday night - and that includes the possibility that he opted to watch "How I Met Your Mother.'' Who cares? "It certainly does feel good," Jerry Jones said of getting a win in the new building. "The way it went early, it felt like maybe we ought to check this thing out for grim reapers living in the back someplace." Grim reapers? Is that a nickname for those, um, lovebirds who, um, shared their affections on the floor of a Cowboys Stadium restroom? Nick Folk had made 16 consecutive field goals until the first quarter Monday, when radio analyst Babe Laufenberg mentioned on the air that Nick Folk had made 16 consecutive field goals - at which time the streak was broken. Curse you, Babe Laufenberg!!
HE HAS SPUNK. I HATE SPUNK: I'm going to resist the temptation to rip Romo for that cross-field pass in the hopes that coaches have done enough ripping of it to wipe the post-completion grin off Tony's face. It was fun. I admit it. But high-risk/low-reward is a guaranteed formula for failure. And what Tony did there is pretty much borrowed from what Brett Favre does in that backyard Wranglers commercial. Which is reason enough to hate it. No Marion Barber and Felix Jones goes down and the Cowboys and Tashard Choice produce consecutive 200-yard-plus rushing games for the first time since 1979 when Tony Dorsett was in charge? Talk about "tasting greatness'' Flozell Adams continues to have problems in a manner that draws the camera to him. But I urge you to watch him on 50-or-so other plays per game, when I say he is absolutely wearing out the SOB across from him. I'm aware of Rafael's metrics, and I do not dare argue with them. (Have to ever tried to argue with Raf? You will lose!) Nevertheless: Can you run around Flo? Sometimes. But when he locks you up (which he frequently does), you find yourself getting up while seven yards downfield.
WADE KNEW IT: You knew it was coming. Well, OK, you didn't know; you hoped. But Wade knew. After two games without a sack or a turnover, Mr. Fix-It's 3-4 defense made plays. I am not in the camp that says, "Oh, it's just Carolina.'' The Panthers were a playoff team a year ago, I still remember Dallas followers wishing the Cowboys had signed Jake Delhomme, I think the Panthers' running back tandem is scary, and this Steve Smith remains, for the moment, THE Steve Smith. And Wade's defense made plays. Lots of them. Three sacks doesn't exactly put the Cowboys on course to lead the league again, but it's a start. One fumble recovery helps. Two interceptions - including, of course, T-New's huge one, were game-changers. And these guys pitched a second-half shutout. One more game of play-making, this week against, Denver, and the Cowboys' defense is suddenly middle-of-the-pack - and climbing. The Wildcat offense isn't dead -but it's being caught-up-with. Unlike last year, when it was all about surprise and seemed to gain 10 yards a crack, opponents now see it coming, and it's been downshifted to being "just another formation.'' It's time for an offensive upshift, and as always, the teams willing to jump to the fore will jump to an advantage.
MOOSE AND GOOSE: Exactly what does Tony Siragusa do to add to a broadcast? Or, for that matter, to keep his job with FOX? It's not that he's "bad,'' exactly; he might be adequate as the analyst in a two-man booth relegated to covering Panthers-vs.-Bucs games, or whatever. But how does the network justify positioning him as a third guy in FOX's No. 2 team which in effect simply takes away from Daryl Johnston's time? Maybe they just love to hear Menefee's poetic line: "Let's throw it back to Moose and Goose''? It makes sense for Mike Jenkins to be a starting cornerback. It's just that we'll all feel better about it if he continues to earn it. The Broncos are 3-0 and haven't allowed a TD pass yet this season, yet some are calling their so-far schedule "soft.'' Truth is, Dallas' two wins have come against teams with a combined record of oh-fer, too. In a league of parity, sometimes your "crummy'' opponent is only "crummy'' because you just beat ‘em.