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The VRR: Cowboys Must Get Back in Saddle after Pulling off Squeaker over 'Skins

The 7-6 victory over the rival Redskins did little to boost fans' confidence in the Cowboys' struggling offense. Running the ball 33 times - including six straight called in the first quarter - may have made the playcalling seem more "balanced", yet it produced no points.

However intriguing it is to see Felix Jones break the double-digit carry barrier for the first time in his career, or to see Marion Barber come up a yard shy from hitting the century mark, the scoreboard is still dependent on Tony Romo to pull that big, fat "0" down.

Heck, even Nick Folk failed (again) to get the team on the scoreboard prior to the end of the fourth quarter. Fortunately, the defense again refused to let that other side of the scoreboard be lit up.

Unfortunately, the Cowboys will be a bit more banged up heading into the shortened Thanksgiving week. Nothing major, but there are some bumps and bruises that must be played through as the team hosts the Raiders on Thursday. Making it through this week unscathed can be a real asset, as the team will get a few extra days to rest up before the Week 13 road game against the Giants.

More VRR after the jump.


Here's the latest on who's hurting:

QB Tony Romo - back (11/22) The quarterback injured his back in the first quarter when he was kneed in the backside while making a tackle. Romo never missed a snap against Washington, but he was limited in practice on Monday. Romo received a pain-relieving shot after the game Sunday, but told reporters he expects to play. Wade Phillips told the media Monday the quarterback was feeling better, but hinted that backup Jon Kitna might have to take some precautionary reps in practice.

TE Jason Witten - foot (11/22) Despite playing the entire game Sunday, Witten didn't practice Monday because of a foot injury. The All-Pro tight end caught two passes on the Cowboys' game-winning touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.

LB Keith Brooking - ankle (11/22) The veteran linebacker was limited in Monday's light practice with an ankle injury he suffered near the end of Sunday's win over the Redskins. Brooking said on Monday he expects to play this week.

CB Mike Jenkins - elbow/head (11/22) Jenkins got "banged up" in the Redskins game, according to head coach Wade Phillips. The cornerback was already battling the elbow injury from the Packers game but suffered the head injury late in the game when making a tackle. He did not practice with the team on Monday in the light workout.

Despite the blow to the back, Romo impressed in the end and sounds good-to-go for Thursday's game.

"That's Romo being Romo," Redskins linebacker London Fletcher said. "We had guys wrapped around him, and he still escaped. He's a tough sack."

And a tough guy. Romo bruised his back in the first quarter tackling cornerback DeAngelo Hall after he picked up a Marion Barber fumble in the red zone.

"I must have asked Tony 10 times, ‘Are you OK?'" Cowboys linebacker Keith Brooking said. "You could tell he was hurting, but he kept grinding."

Romo said he never considered leaving the game.

"I've always felt you can play as long as it's not something like a broken bone," Romo said. "With the adrenaline of the game, you can always do it. It only hurts right before the snap and right after."

The Redskins' injuries were much more severe. RB Ladell Betts and OL Chad Rinehart will be placed on IR and miss the rest of the season.

Along with Coach Phillips' aggressive blitzes, Keith Brooking credits DeMarcus Ware for his career-high four sacks.

Brooking has taken advantage of all the attention opponents pay the NFL’s reigning sacks leader in pass protection. He said his sacks often come on "hug blitzes," when he’s in man coverage against a running back and rushes when the back stays into block. When the back goes to chip Ware, that often leaves a lane for Brooking.

"The majority of my sacks, just to be dead honest with you, come from I'm just running scot-free and a lot of times the backs are sliding toward No. 94," Brooking said. "As I said yesterday, I'd do the same thing if I was in the backfield trying to block that guy. I'm just taking advantage."

Anthony Spencer was almost credited with a sack, but getting the game-winning INT proved much more rewarding.

It was Spencer's first career interception. The theft made up for a review taking away what he thought was his first sack of the season.

Late in the first half, Spencer chased Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell out of bounds for an apparent 5-yard loss. But a replay showed Campbell had released the ball just before stepping out.

"I gave the ref a little mouth about it," Spencer said. "But I'd much rather have the interception. It's a relief for the simple fact I've been around so many opportunities to make plays. It's good to see it come to fruition."

Bradie James on winning ugly:

"We have been sexy," linebacker Bradie James said. "We have been trying to be glamorous. And teams have come in and beat us. They have us ugly. What’s wrong with ugly? We won. That’s all that matters. Now we’ve got Oakland. We are concentrating on winning and getting ready for the stretch drive in December."

Coach Phillips squashed the media's attempt to get more info on the Campo-Newman argument.

If you haven't read it by now, LaRon Landry called Roy Williams "scared". Landry didn't get all Xs-andOs about it, but did imply that Williams' play was "scared".

"Certain pass concepts they had," Landry continued, by way of explaining how he knew Williams was scared. "Certain routes he ran, you could tell he didn't want any part of it."

A good area of focus on both offense and defense will be third-down conversions.

With the short week, Cowboys coach Wade Phillips might not have an opportunity to address the team's struggles with their third-down offense and defense.

"We just haven't played well enough on third downs, and we need to take a look at it."

Nick Folk knows he's in a "funk", and will stay patient.

"A little funk," Folk said Monday. "I got to work my way out of it right now."

Folk said he's not too concerned because he's hitting the ball well. On the 46-yarder he missed on Sunday, Folk said he hit it well, but it just stayed right. The last kick he missed, a 38-yarder in Green Bay the previous week, Folk said he just missed it.

"I feel good, I hit the ball really well, it stayed a little to the right," Folk said. "I dont know I got to go look at it. it felt good coming off my foot had a good week of practice."

Patrick Crayton has worn many hats in his football career. Did you know he can kick? Well, sort of.

Patrick Crayton was once the emergency kicker on his college team.

"Make that the emergency-emergency kicker," he said, smiling. "If it had ever come down to me, we probably would have gone for two."

Even then, at Northwestern Oklahoma State, Crayton had a strong leg. Once, on a bet, Crayton surprised himself.

"I made a 50-yarder," he said, again smiling. "You never know when it comes to kicking."

After waiving KR/PR Allen Rossum, the Cowboys re-signed CB Cletis Gordon to the active roster.

The Buccaneers sure like the Cowboys' practice squad players. They've already plucked rookie CB Mike Mickens off there, now they've signed QB Rudy Carpenter as well.

Matt Mosely is shopping Shanahan. If the Cowboys were to part ways with Wade Phillips after this season, he thinks Mike Shanahan could be a good fit.

I think Jones would do just about anything to win another Super Bowl but you have to question his decision to stick with Wade Phillips after a disastrous ending to the '08 season. The fact that it was partly a financial decision makes you wonder if Jones would be willing to outbid his little buddy Snyder.

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