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Cowboys vs. Panthers: What they're saying

If T.O. hadn’t gotten hurt we’d be flying high today. 13-2 and the pressure goes over to the Green Bay Packers to win today. The defense put in another stellar effort and the running game got going behind MB3. Everything would have been just as it should, except for that dang T.O. injury.

So let’s go to Owens first and see what he’s saying about his injury.

X-rays on his ankle came back negative, but Owens will have an MRI on Sunday to determine the severity of the sprain.

While team owner Jerry Jones and Owens himself didn't sound as if the injury was too serious, the Cowboys will be cautious, considering the nagging nature of a high ankle sprain.

"I'm a little sore - in some pain right now," said Owens, who needed crutches and a walking boot leaving the locker room. "But I've been through this before. It definitely could've been worse. I'll have an MRI (on Sunday) and we'll go day-to-day from there."

More from Owens:

"The bye week helps, and I have all the confidence in the world this team can win," Owens said. "As you saw tonight, those guys gutted it out. We have some good receivers in Sam Hurd and Miles Austin. Those guys will get it done."

It’s pretty clear he won’t be playing next Sunday. Even if the MRI showed everything is OK and he feels better during the week, the Cowboys should not let him play against Washington under any circumstances. His health in the playoffs is too important. He sounds like he knows he won’t play again until the playoffs. Let’s just pray that a couple of weeks for the fast-healing Owens is enough to do the trick.

Tony Romo looked good in my evaluation. The man who likes to talk to the media was very silent all week. I wrote earlier this week that that was a good thing, I thought it meant he was getting focused because he knew we needed a win. Too many distractions last week and he wasn’t about to add anything to it.

"I just put tunnel vision on," Romo said. "I knew we needed to come out here and get a win. I had to get myself in the right frame of mind to play at my best. I felt like this week, there were so many distractions, about just junk sometimes. I just felt like the important thing for my team was to get myself in football-mode 24-7."

After going silent all week Romo was exceedingly communicative at the press conference post-game. He shared some of how he really felt this week, and some of it didn’t make him very happy. He took a jab at the press for irresponsible journalism and he didn’t like the talk about his girlfriend. The great thing about Tony is that while telling the press and everybody they were naughty last week, he did it with a smile and charmed them anyway. That kid has got charisma.

More Romo focusing on football:

"I don't care how the perception is with me," Romo said. "I let it roll off my back. But it hurts me when it hurts people that are close to you. It's nice when people support you. I don't see how that is a negative."

"There were so many distractions this week, and a lot of them were just junk," he said. "I don't really think too much about the perception of me. I know I'm going to do the right things and do everything I can to help this team win.

"This week there was the Jessica Simpson stuff, the T.O. stuff, and I found myself not really caring too much about anything other than football."

The, he got a little philosophical on us:

"The stuff this week reminded me that it's a journey," he said. "And if we get lucky enough to win this thing, it's the journey you look back on. And the journey is pretty fun."

He’s always got to work Journey into it. Don’t Stop Believin’, Romo.

Oooh baby, how about our man MB3? I could probably write a 1,000 word article just on how I like to watch him run into people. Normally, when tacklers come into the picture against a Cowboys running back, I’m immediately bummed. But with MB3 I love it when he’s in open space, but I also love it when a tackler comes into the TV picture, because MB3 is going to stiff arm him, run over him, maybe juke him and definitely will give as good as he gets. And how about toughness, he bounced right up after getting blown-up on that incomplete pass. One caution tough, don’t put the ball on the carpet, MB3.

Bradie James is digging MB3, too.

"If you give our offense the ball and the way Barber's been running - he's been running like a man possessed - you have all the confidence in the world in everybody that's out there," linebacker Bradie James said. "He's just been playing lights out."

Now, from the man himself:

"The O-line played well - the team played together," Barber said. "I'm glad we came out on top. Now we've got to go get the last one."

I swear, how can you not love this kid?

The defense has come alive over the past couple of games. Bradie James had an epiphany in the Eagles game.

Well, last week, the Cowboys' defense, according to James, went into the Eagles game with the attitude that the offense would eventually come up with a play to turn the tide. When that didn't happen, it left an impression on the group.

That was simply this: The defense needed to play as if it had to carry the day, which was just what it did in Charlotte.

This week he says:

"Defense wins championships," James said. "We can't worry about what our offense is doing."

DeMarcus Ware concurs:

"Championship teams have great defenses," outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware said. "We have to step up every week, no matter what [the offense does]."

The Cowboys front seven was dominant. Tank Johnson had a good game, Ellis and Ware did their thing and Akin Ayodele was very active in this game. Chris Canty continued his good play as did Jay Ratliff. Matt Moore hung in their pretty well, but it got overwhelming as the game went on.

"We knew Matt Moore could throw the (ball) because we watched a lot of film on him and he always hits it on target every time," linebacker DeMarcus Ware said of the former undrafted free agent who lasted until final cuts with the Cowboys during preseason. "He even did it against us (in practice).

"If you can get pressure on the quarterback like that, that's where you really win games."

The offense definitely slowed when T.O. went out. There was an adjustment period and though they moved the ball after a while they couldn't get the points we needed to win big. They will have to prove themselves next weekend if we still have to win to get home-field advantage. That will put big pressure on Patrick Crayton, Sam Hurd and Miles Austin...along with the ever-steady Jason Witten. It’s possible that Terry Glenn may be able to help, but I’m not convinced yet. Next week, the young kids will have to get it done and they weren’t bad this week.

Added wide receivers coach Ray Sherman on Hurd and Austin: "I tell them all the time, 'be ready'. You never know when you're number will be called. They did very well."

Here’s Crayton:

''We still ran all the same plays we run when he's in there,'' said receiver Patrick Crayton , who starts opposite Owens. ''I think once 81 was out, once TO was out, they started playing more man. That's fine. That's how we like it. We hate playing against zone. I think zone should be outlawed by the NFL.''

It was good win, it was on the road and we held serve against the Packers. Later today we’ll know how much next week’s game will mean.

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