Cowboys Offense Looking to Bounce Back

You have to love this time of year. Now, teams still in the hunt are buckling and making the final push for the playoffs. When the Kansas City Chiefs and the Dallas Cowboys meet this Sunday, it will be a battle of two such teams, fighting for the opportunity to vie for the ultimate prize, a Super Bowl championship. The Chiefs go into Sunday's game riding a three game winning streak, while the Cowboys have dropped two games in heartbreaking fashion.

The Cowboys' offense has struggled late in games recently. In three of the last four outings, they've failed to produce a 100 yard rusher. The final straw came last week against the Giants, where the Cowboy's offense gained a paltry 206 yards. Quarterback Drew Bledsoe threw two interceptions and fumbled the ball twice. Still, the Chiefs' defense must be ready for a tight game. The boys from Dallas will fighting for their playoff survival, and they're tough enough and talented enough to pull out a victory at home.

"They'll be tough, Chiefs head coach Dick Vermeil said. "They've beaten the San Diego Chargers already and we didn't. They've played a tough schedule. It took me four years to win there the first time on a Monday night in November of 1979. I know how tough it can be."

The Cowboys' offensive woes of late can be placed directly on the shoulders of the offensive line. The line has not been opening holes for running backs Julius Jones and Marion Barber, and has allowed opposing defenses to get to Bledsoe. Of course, the struggles began when the Cowboys lost Pro Bowl left tackle Flozell Adams to a torn ACL against the Giants. Since then, Dallas has been forced to go to more short passes, which doesn't play to the strengths of their strong armed quarterback. Against the Chiefs, the Cowboys will be looking to utilize talents of their versatile receiving corps.

"We've got a lot of weapons offensively, the bottom line for us is that we've got to execute better, and take advantage of those weapons. Earlier in the season, we were really putting some points on the board, and here recently, that hasn't been the case, so we've got to step up a bit offensively.

Stepping it up offensively means putting the ball in the hands of wide receivers Keyshawn Johnson and Terry Glenn, and tight end Jason Witten. Each player has his own set of talents he brings to the table and when Bledsoe is on, he can utilize each players abilities to their fullest.

"As a quarterback, the more weapons you have, obviously the better your life is," said Bledsoe. "Having Keyshawn, and his physical style as a receiver, he's one of these guys that has no fear coming across the middle and making the tough catch in traffic, and still coming down with the ball. The thing I had to learn with Keyshawn when I got here, is that there are times where with a smaller receiver you might think he's covered, but with Keyshawn, because he's a bigger guy, and because he's a physical player you can throw him the ball when it looks like he's covered.

Johnson is a big possession receiver who excels at screening smaller defensive backs away from the ball. His size and sure-handedness are what make him tough to defend, and he leads the team with 55 catches. On the opposite side of the field is the smaller but much faster Glenn, who acts as the Cowboy's homerun threat. Glenn is very good at stretching defenses vertically, and getting behind safeties for big plays. This season, Glenn has registered 841 yards on just 48 catches, an average of 17.5 yards a carry. He also has a special chemistry with Bledsoe that allows the two of them to make split second adjustments before and during plays.

"Terry Glenn's a guy I have some familiarity with going back to New England," Bledsoe explained. "He's been playing great for us. We haven't had him as involved with the offense as we would like to have over the past four or five weeks, but Terry has been a great threat for us."

If things aren't open downfield, then Bledsoe looks to his reliable tight end Witten. Witten has turned into a nice option for Bledsoe, and is quietly one of the best in the NFL at converting third downs. Witten is second only to Johnson in catches, and the Cowboys go to him often when they need a first down.

"Jason Witten is doing a great job as a tight end. That's a great luxury as a quarterback, to have a tight end that's productive for you. It allows you to work down the field, and then if things aren't open down the field, then you've got a guy that's working down the middle that can give you a lot of plays.

After last week's game against their division rival Giants, the Cowboys were at as low point as they've been in the Parcells era. Expect them to welcome the Chiefs with intensity and fire unlike at any point this season. The Cowboys know that have to put the Giants game behind them, bounce back and fight for their season.

"If you look at this like it's a disaster, then that's what it'll be," said Parcells. "If we look at it like we can bounce back, then that's probably what will happen."

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