Monday, December 14, 1998
Cowboys seem in no rush to get offense moving
By FRANK LUKSA
The Dallas Morning News
KANSAS CITY -- A significant event occurred before halftime
of Sunday's game between the Cowboys and Kansas City Chiefs.
A water main servicing Arrowhead Stadium malfunctioned and brought
all of its toilets to a standstill.
The crisis worked a hardship on the Cowboys. Their offense
In a second consecutive display of scoring impotence, the
Cowboys secured a 20-17 defeat by the Chiefs that left them locked
in a late-season stagger. The loss was their third in a row,
whittled the season record to 8-6 and allowed 7-7 Arizona to
climb within one game of the NFC East lead.
This was the second game in as many weeks where the Cowboys
could have clinched their division title by beating a sub-.500
team on the road. They failed a week ago against 5-7 New Orleans,
22-3. Another failure raised more doubts about their ability
to compete against NFC elite, modest AFC entries and certain
teams in the Big 12.
The 5-8 Kansas City team that beat them had lost seven of
its last eight games, led the NFL in penalties and had its coach,
Marty Schottenheimer, on the brink of his first non-winning season
in 13 years. The Chiefs lacked the theoretical advantage held
by the Cowboys' playoff incentive.
What the Cowboys lacked was every team's security blanket
and the essence of coach Chan Gailey's offensive philosophy --
a running game. The outcome swung on that factor rather than
an aerial duel between Troy Aikman and Rich Gannon.
Bam in fine form
The Chiefs ran hard, well and often behind Bam Morris, the
Cooper, Texas, native from Texas Tech who's trying to revive
a career interrupted by prison time on a marijuana possession
charge. He landed in Kansas City at mid-season after previous
stints with Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Chicago and a Texas jail cell.
The Cowboys ran into various cul de sacs. Simple as that.
No further analysis is necessary to explain why the Cowboys are
waist-deep in troubled waters.
Shedding tacklers like dandruff, Morris gained 138 yards on
27 punishing carries. Other runners chipped in to increase KC's
rushing total to 183 yards on a 4.8 per-carry average.
Ahead 20-17 with 2:48 left to play, the Chiefs gave the ball
to Morris four times in a row. Bam gained 11, 5, 2 and 17 yards.
Dallas never got the ball back.
The Cowboys suddenly are run-feeble on offense and run-vulnerable
on defense. One beyond-poor rushing effort can be dismissed as
an aberration a la the all-time franchise low of six yards that
Emmitt Smith gained against the Saints. But the week before,
it was 58 yards against Minnesota followed by even fewer against
Three such games in succession is a trend of worrisome proportion,
especially in December. Smith gained 42 yards all day long, a
total he once reached with regularity in the first quarter. The
team total wasn't much higher: 51 discouraging yards.
Logic says an ever-diminished starting cast has robbed the
Cowboys of continuity. Their center, right guard, tight end and
third wideout already were missing, and a back injury put Michael
Irvin down late in the second period after he'd made one catch
for nine yards.
A rag-tag line
What has happened? An offensive line gone sour, much of it
through attrition. A person named Hayward Clay, originally found
on moon beam and placed on the practice squad, started his first
game of the season at tight end. Eric Bjornson shared the spot
with Snyder's Hayward, although few noticed.
Rookie Flo Adams went at right guard, which is fine except
he's a natural tackle. Good ol' Nate Newton is 36 and playing
old. There's not much difference at center between Mike Kiselak
and Clay Shiver, and that's unfortunate. Tackles Erik Williams
and Larry Allen aren't enough to tote that blocking bale.
So the offense winds up too often looking at third-and-long.
It surrenders pass rush advantage to a defensive line able to
ignore a run threat. Aikman may not be trapped, but there's enough
penetration for his passes to be batted away at the line when
receivers aren't dropping them at the usual crucial juncture.
Aikman struck back with two TD passes in the fourth quarter,
but it was desperate, hully-gully work by an offense gone soft
on fundamentals. The rally amounted to confetti blown by the
What ails the Cowboys is as plain as their frequent no gain.
The team has rushed for 117 yards during its season-high three-game
losing streak. Morris beat that by 21 yards by himself and in
All content copyright 1998,
AP, KRT, The Abilene Reporter-News
and Reporter OnLine
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