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Dallas Cowboys News And Notes: A Once-Heated Rivalry Returns...For A Week

All the news that a-fittin' for y'all to be a-readin'...Today's headlines: Cowboys fight; practice reports; scouting reports; looks at one of the greatest rivalries in sports.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

We begin today's collocation of Cowboys goodness with a last look at the Giants game:

Xs and Os: three things from Cowboys-Giants to examine - Bob Sturm, DMN

The Sturminator takes his weekly look at three plays from last week's win. The three pays this time around? DeMarco Murray's 17-yard run in the first quarter; a 12-yard Romo-to-Witten pass in the same quarter; the gorgeous Dez Bryant catch along the left sideline that led to the Cowboys final touchdown. Here's Sturm's conclusion:

If you want the biggest reason why this team is for real, I submit these last 2 plays are far more significant than the run game. You still have to make throws in the face of pressure at big moments in a game – especially to win a division and win in the playoffs. The Cowboys protection is sound right now and they are chasing teams out of blitzing by putting this type of thing on tape as a warning to anyone who wants to try to rattle them.

Now, Haslett must decide if he wants to roll the dice again. This is not the same Cowboys offense he used to terrify so much.


Jon Gruden: Cowboys "UFO" defense is the story of the year - DMN

On ESPN's MIke and Mike, Gruden made some observations in advance of calling Monday Night's skirmish:

...the story of the year to me is the Cowboys defense. I call it the UFO defense. They are unidentified flying objects. They're under-appreciated, they're unrecognized. They are the story to me. They are playing great football."

Tony Romo growing more accurate too - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas

Through seven games, Number Nine is completing just shy of 70 percent of his passes (69.2, to be specific), which is the best in the NFL and would be the best percentage of his career over a full season. Here's Redball:

"Certainly the better environment that you’re in the more accurate you’re going to be," coach Jason Garrett said. "Tony’s been a very accurate passer throughout his career and I think if you look back he’s probably been more accurate when he’s been protected well and guys are open and maybe less accurate when he’s not quite as comfortable in the pocket because of the pressure he’s getting or guys aren’t getting away from their guys downfield."

Garrett wants Cowboys to fight - Jean-Jacques Taylor, ESPN Dallas

The Cowboys have been involved in a lot more dust-ups this season, before halves as well as between plays. JJT argues that this - their willingness to "fight" - is an integral aspect of their character. To wit:

...the Cowboys have had to fight in virtually every game. They fought back from embarrassment after falling behind 28-3 to San Francisco. They fought off Tennessee in the second half after the Titans pulled within a touchdown after falling behind 16-0. They fought back from 21-0 against the Rams, 10-0 to Seattle and 14-7 to the New York Giants.

They take a punch, spit out the blood and keep on coming...


The doings from Thursday's Wednesday-style practice:

Practice update: Romo sits out again; first reps for Amobi Okoye; Carter returns - Nick Eatman, The Mothership

Because the Cowboys play on Monday night, everything is being moved back a day; the typical schedule for Wednesday has been pushed out to Thursday. And that’s why Tony Romo was not on at practice: it's his usual off day. The Cowboys were also without Doug Free, Jakar Hamilton and Jack Crawford. On the other hand, Bruce Carter, who has missed three games with a strained quad, was on the field, as was Amobi Okoye for the first time in many a month.

Amobi Okoye returns to practice - Calvin Watkins, ESPN Dallas

On Thursday, Amobi Okoye participated in his first practice in well over a year, after time away recovering from anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, a brain condition that causes memory loss and seizures. How was it, he was asked:

"It was good, it was worth it," said Okoye, who worked with the scout team. "It was mixed emotions. It felt like it naturally was coming back. I've played six years in the league [and], it doesn't take too long for stuff to come back to you."

Fish's Thursday Cowboys practice report - Mark Lane, Cowboys HQ

My favorite tidbit from Fish's on-air practice gabfest? It's this observation on Rod Marinelli:

There's no question that things Marinelli touches turn to gold, except that one year in Detroit when he was the head coach and they went 0-16. But his ability to be your grandpa and be your Vietnam War sergeant -- it's a crazy combination. It works in such a positive way.


A few scouting reports as we inch ever closer to Monday Night...

Redskins rushing offense has struggled while Cowboys is best in NFL - Liz Clarke, Washington Post

At the end of the 2012 season, Washington boasted the NFL’s top-ranked rushing offense, with 2,709 yards, whereas Dallas’s running game ranked 31st, with a paltry 1,265 yards. Flash forward two years, and we see that the teams’ respective running games have taken starkly divergent paths:

Washington (2-5) is ranked 21st in rushing offense (696 yards through seven games), winless in the division and at the bottom of the NFC East. Dallas (6-1) leads the league in rushing (1,118 yards), sits atop the NFC East and can mount a claim, amid its six-game winning streak, as the most dangerous team in the league.

I have no problem with that...

Stats-eye view of Cowboys-Redskins - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas

Archer's weekly stats-based look at the upcoming game, with input from the gents at ESPN Stats and Information. This week's highlight:

Better with time: Tony Romo’s work for the season has been top-notch, but his work after halftime has been the best in the league. He leads the NFL in Total QBR (95.7) and yards per attempt (10.1) in the third and fourth quarters, plus overtime.

Big choker, that Romo...

Scout's eye: Parnell gets steep test in Kerrigan; Carr and Garcon meet again - Bryan Broaddus, The Mothership

The headline announces the two key battles in Broaddus's weekly matchups post. Here's his take on the Parnell vs. Kerrigan face-off:

Where Parnell has to be careful in this matchup with Kerrigan is taking plays off or playing with lazy technique. If Parnell does not finish blocks, Kerrigan will find a way to make the play. His motor and effort are relentless and to beat him, Parnell must match that intensity. What Parnell must prepare for in Kerrigan, technique-wise, is a player that can play at all different angles.

Colt McCoy likely to start against Cowboys - Andrew Walker,

The former UT alum is getting most of the first-team reps in practice, although he's sharing a few with another Texas collegian, RGIII, who is close to returning from a dislocated ankle suffered in week two. So, the Cowboys will face a third-stringer or a gimpy, out-of-practice starter.

Looking at other Redskins position questions - John Keim, ESPN

Not only will the 'Skins be going with a new starting quarterback, they also have potential new starters at other positions: inside linebacker, right tackle, and left guard. Here's the question at right tackle:

Right tackle: Gruden still isn’t sure who will start from among Tyler Polumbus, Tom Compton or even Morgan Moses. Gruden said it’s a close decision and said part of Polumbus’ problems this season stem from soreness in his knee. He also said Compton deserved a chance last week, which is why they alternated him with Polumbus. A rotation remains an option Monday.

Trent Murphy faces adjustments - John Keim, ESPN

I'd recommend reading Keim's excellent work; he is to the Redskins beat what Todd Archer is to the Cowboys beat: a daily must-read. Here, he takes a look at the guy replacing injured OLB Brian Orakpo. It's a different game than the one he played in college:

"The biggest thing is even when you beat a guy clean, he still moves his feet well to keep up with you," Murphy said. "In college, if you beat a guy, you beat a guy and you run by him. So in the NFL it has to be quick, you have to get your hips past and your hands past tight. The more space in there, the more area he has to recover."

Poor kid's first start is against Tyron Smith...ouch.

Kerrigan says he has to step up with Orakpo out - Rich Tandler,

With Brian Orakpo out for the year with a torn pectoral muscle, Ryan Kerrigan knows that he has to take his play to another level.

"I’ve just got to step my game up," he said. "I’ve got to be more consistent and get to the quarterback more. It’s not going to change anything schematically for what I’m going to do but it’s just puts more of an emphasis on me making plays."


Playing Washington offers a painful reminder for a certain franchise quarterback...

Tony Romo "cringes" when he thinks of last Redskins game - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas

The last time Romo faced off against the 'Skins, he had to have surgery after the game. Romo said he felt in more pain during and after that game than any other he has played, but he never considered not playing, because ballers ball:

"Just part of playing professional sports, you’re playing in a game and you’re hurt or banged up or whatever and you just kind of play through it," Romo said. "As a competitor you kind of feel like, ‘I’ll worry about it after the game,’ and you do everything you can. It felt like the season was on the line at the time so you kind of lay it on the line and you let the chips fall after the game."

Tony Romo explains how he determines if he can play through an injury - Jon Machota, DMN

Tony Romo has played through a fractured rib and a punctured lung, finished last season’s Week 16 game against Washington despite having a herniated disk in his back, and the last two weeks, has battled through ankle and rib injuries. How does he do it?

"If you can walk and you’re not injured enough to – if it’s not broken basically or not to the point where you can’t go, I think you play," Romo said on a Thursday conference call with reporters in Washington. "You may not be at your best but you are able to go and help your football team and that’s usually what I have done over the years. If I can stand up and walk and do those things, usually I am going to play."


This rivalry is special; even if it isn't as nuclear as it once was, there's still plenty of residual hate percolating underneath the surface...

Is Dallas week dead? - Dan Steinberg, Washington Post

Sure, these two clubs faced off in 2012 with a division championship at stake, but it's been a long time since this rivalry was fueled by a good, healthy hate:

"It’s Dallas Week, but it doesn’t feel like Dallas Week. It’s Dreary Week; not Dallas Week. I used to live for this, I used to live for the two Dallas games…There are these people who would say these are the two most important games of the year. And it was like that for a long time. And the buildup for these games, God, in the ’70s and  80s and into the early ’90s was off the charts. I mean, you knew if you lived in this city it was Dallas Week when the Redskins and Cowboys were gonna play."

Jason Hatcher sees "hate" from other side of Cowboys-Redskins Rivalry - Todd Archer, ESPN Dallas

On a recent conference call, Hatcher was asked about Redskins fans' sentiments towards their long-standing division rival:

"I’ll tell you what; they hate Dallas more than Dallas hate us over here," Hatcher said on a conference call Thursday leading into the "Monday Night Football" contest at AT&T Stadium. "They really hate Dallas....Facebook, Twitter, whatever you’re on, they hate Dallas."

As I've always said, you can only hate what you fear. FEAR THE STAR.

Photos: Washington Redskins that Cowboys fans love to hate - DMN

In case you missed it, our latest podcast featured a "Renewing the Rivalry" segment in which. among other things,  we talked about our most hated Washington football players (me: Riggo; Landon: Theismann). In the same spirit, The Dallas Morning News offers a gallery of hated 'Skins. Take a look; it's a good bet you'll find several of your least liked folks on the list...


And, with this once-heated rivalry in mind, we conclude with a delicious trip down memory lane...

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