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Opinions on the game and Greg Ellis

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Brian Baldinger traces the Cowboys' defensive slide to the Greg Ellis injury.

In Week 10, Tony Romo won his second game in three starts and life in Dallas was good. The Cowboys were starting to look like a legitimate Super Bowl team. But outside linebacker Greg Ellis tore his Achilles' tendon in that game and the defense -- and the Cowboys -- haven't been the same since.

With Ellis and outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware, the Cowboys had a pair of elite edge pass rushers. It was like having the Giants' duo of Carl Banks and Lawrence Taylor or, for a more contemporary example, San Diego's Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips. Opposing quarterbacks were in peril. But the loss of Ellis has destroyed the defense.

Later in the article, Baldinger says we're done and that we should've picked Manny Lawson over Bobby Carpenter. Oh no, it's Ware vs. Merriman, Part II.

Here are a couple of blurbs from ESPN Insider on the game.


The Cowboys must re-establish their running game against a Seahawks run defense that is allowing 126.8 yards a game to take pressure off QB Tony Romo. The Cowboys have a big offensive line that has been inconsistent when creating space and running lanes. Look for head coach Bill Parcells to rely on the combination of running backs Julius Jones and Marion Barber against an undersized Seahawks defensive line. The Cowboys need a lot of production from Jones and Barber on first down to place them in more manageable second- and third-down situations in order to control the clock and extend drives.

However, with little or no running game, Romo is putting a lot more pressure on himself to make plays in the passing game. On top of that, he is making mistakes by forcing throws into tight coverage and holding onto the ball too long, allowing the pocket to collapse around him. Also, another tendency to watch is Romo looking at his wrist band when calling plays. The Cowboys usually pass after Romo looks at the wrist band.

That's the first I've heard about the wrist-band thing. The scouts in this article like Seattle for the win.

Both teams enter the playoffs having lost three of their last four games. Head coaches Bill Parcells and Mike Holmgren must find the right formula to get their teams back on track. Look for Seahawks to start off by attacking through the air to set up RB Shaun Alexander. The Cowboys will rely on the combination of running backs Jones and Barber to take pressure off Romo. However, look for Romo to make some big plays in the passing game against a depleted Seahawks secondary. Defensively, it will come down to in-game adjustments for both teams. This has all the makings of an offensive shootout, although the Seahawks will find a way to win behind the 12th Man in a close game at Qwest Field.

Prediction: Seahawks 28, Cowboys 24

Don Banks at SI.com evaluates all four playoffs games. Here is his bottom line on Dallas and Seattle.

The momentum rating: On a scale of 1-10, the Cowboys get a minus-3. Sorry, but losing at home to the Lions will do that for you. I actually like Dallas' chances better to win on the road these days, given that it has dropped its last three at Texas Stadium. Seattle warrants only a 2 or so on the old momentum meter. It won last week, in a meaningless game at Tampa Bay, but dropped three in a row before that, including to its division rivals Arizona and San Francisco. I wonder if both teams can somehow be eliminated Saturday night?

My Pick: Seattle's defense continues Romo's late-season slide, and the 'Hawks generate just enough offense to spark more retirement talk around Parcells. Seahawks 17, Cowboys 16