Friday, November 23, 2007
IRVING, Tex., Nov. 22 -- Regardless of where they go from here, Tony Romo, Terrell Owens and the 2007 Dallas Cowboys already have reached an impressive peak in team lore: 10-1.
Romo threw two touchdown passes, including a late one to Owens, sending the Cowboys past the New York Jets, 34-3, on Thursday and giving Dallas its best record through 11 games in its 48-year, five-championship history.
"We haven't made any of our goals yet -- we didn't make the playoffs, we didn't win the division, we didn't get home-field advantage -- but I am proud of that, our team is proud of that," Cowboys Coach Wade Phillips said.
While the milestone is nice, it's only good for a share of the NFC lead. Green Bay also is 10-1, and the Packers are headed to Texas Stadium next Thursday night.
If the Indianapolis-New England game earlier this month was hyped as Super Bowl 41 1/2 , this upcoming game might as well get billed as Super Bowl 41 3/4 . It has all the elements: famous franchises, marquee quarterbacks and the chance to force or avoid a late-January trip to Lambeau Field.
"It's going to be a great matchup, but I don't want to get into that," Phillips said. "I want to enjoy this one."
This game certainly lacked the drama next week's game holds.
The Cowboys needed only eight plays to go ahead 7-0 and were up 21-0 before the Jets (2-9) scored, getting a field goal in the final minute of the first half. Dallas did not allow a touchdown for the first time all season, and the 31-point margin was a season high.
"I thought it was a solid, solid game," said Phillips, whose club has won five straight since its only loss, to the Patriots on Oct. 14. "We played well throughout. That's the way we need to play at home."
New York was coming off a victory over AFC power Pittsburgh, but quickly reverted to the form of a team that had lost its previous six games before the win.
Kellen Clemens was sacked on each of his first two series, then midway through the second quarter threw an interception that Terence Newman returned 50 yards for a touchdown. Things were so bad that Coach Eric Mangini challenged the spot on a third-down play, hoping to trim a yard or two off fourth and three. That didn't work, either.
And all that came in their good half. After intermission, the Jets didn't get a first down until there were 5 minutes 19 seconds left in the game. That drive ended at the Dallas 1-yard line.
Romo was nowhere near as crisp as last Thanksgiving, when he threw five touchdowns, but he was good enough: 21 of 28 for 195 yards.
His two touchdown passes gave him 29 on the season, tying a club record.
Owens caught six passes for 65 yards, with a 22-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. That stretched his touchdown streak to six straight and gave him 13 this season, matching his NFL-leading total from last season. Tight end Jason Witten caught four passes for 54 yards and the other touchdown, a 25-yarder in the second quarter.
Marion Barber ran for 103 yards and had Dallas's first touchdown, a seven-yarder.
On a cold, wet afternoon perfectly suited for running, the matchup between the running back Jones brothers never got too interesting.
Dallas's Julius Jones had 64 yards on 14 carries and another 26 yards on four receptions, while older brother Thomas Jones of the Jets had 40 yards on 17 carries.
Clemens was 12 of 27 for 142 yards. One of the incompletions for the right-handed quarterback was thrown left-handed while trying to avoid a sack.