Monday, December 14, 1998
Cowboys show very little in third straight
Scripps Howard News Service
By ANDY NEWBERRY
Scripps Howard News Service
KANSAS CITY, Mo. --The Dallas Cowboys will win the NFC East.
That's the good news.
The bad news is that Sunday's 20-17 loss to the mediocre Kansas
City Chiefs was more evidence that their playoff stay will be
The Cowboys showed nothing on offense in the first three quarters,
and couldn't stop retread running back Bam Morris in the second
Toss in two special teams mistakes -- a blocked punt and fumbled
punt return -- and you've got the makings of a rout.
However, Rich Gannon is still Rich Gannon so this one was
still in doubt until Morris broke off runs of 17 and 11 yards
to help the Chiefs run out the clock.
Sure, Dallas was missing Deion Sanders for a third straight
week. But that doesn't really explain 51 rushing yards by the
Cowboys. Nor does it explain the season-high 137 yards by Morris.
The injury excuse is there, especially in the secondary, but
Dallas has two weeks to clinch a division and get ready for a
dangerous Tampa Bay team in the first round of the playoffs.
Three weeks ago the Cowboys were 8-3 and probably thinking
they'd be 10-1 if not for Troy Aikman's injury. The two one-point
losses to Chicago and Oakland were easily excused.
Fast forward back to the present and you've got an 8-6 team
that can't move the ball against also-rans New Orleans and Tampa
"We challenged our football team about seven weeks ago
to get on a roll, get on a streak and win a few in a row,"
Cowboys coach Chan Gailey said. "We've almost set ourselves
back to that point again, and that's not a good feeling for our
"It wasn't a lack of confidence," Dallas quarterback
Troy Aikman said. "We just didn't play real well today.
We've been without a lot of people, offensively and defensively,
"It is part of the game. You've got to deal with that.
You still have to execute."
Aikman was part of the problem Sunday, too. He was just 7
of 19 for 69 yards for three quarters as Dallas fell behind 17-3.
Aikman caught fire in the fourth quarter, hitting 11 of 16
for 130 yards and two touchdowns.
"Obviously, it was too little, too late," Gailey
It's not too late in the season. The Cowboys still have a
magic number of one Dallas win or Arizona loss to clinch the
It'd be hard to imagine the Cowboys losing at home to Philadelphia
and Washington, but it's no longer a lock.
"I'm going back to that word I used earlier in the year,
and that's consistency, and we're not there now," Gailey
I think the loss of Ernie Mills is hurting the Cowboys. The
veteran had become a go-to guy for Aikman. The loss of Michael
Irvin in the third quarter certainly didn't help the cause, either.
"To a man we're disappointed and I don't know what else
to say," Irvin said.
The offense scored just six points in a seven-quarter span
against the Saints and Chiefs. Despite that ugly stat, the defense
better take its share of the blame.
Second-team cornerbacks Charlie Williams and Kevin Mathis
did an admirable job against Gannon, one of the hottest QBs in
the league the past three weeks.
The run defense was missing in action. Morris run roughshod
in the second half with 91 yards on 19 carries for a final total
of 137 yards on 27 tries. As a team the Chiefs averaged 4.8 yards
on 38 rush attempts.
Kansas City averaged a paltry 3.4 yards per carry in its first
"I thought we didn't tackle well," Gailey said.
"I thought we had guys in position sometimes but Bam (Morris)
just broke a bunch of tackles out there today. He's a big guy
and he's hard to wrap up."
"We came out on defense and we played hard," Dallas
linebacker Randall Godfrey said. "We had guys flying all
over the field but we missed tackles. You can't do that.
"We have to get it corrected. We know what we are capable
of. We just have to get it corrected."
Fortunately for the Cowboys they play in a weak division and
they've got two more chances to get it going.
"We're going to go out like soldiers," Cowboys tackle
Eric Williams said.
(Andy Newberry writes for the Wichita Falls Times Record
News in Wichita Falls, Texas)
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