SCOUTing the Cowboys

This week the Colts take on the 5-4 Cowboys in a contest that features the two quarterbacks with the highest quarterback rating in the NFL heading into Week 11 action. provides the latest news out of Dallas...

It was good for the Cowboys that they played largely mistake free after they imploded in a loss to the Redskins a week earlier. It was also good for them to get a bounce back victory considering the emotional toll of the last second loss to the Redskins.

But the Cowboys have not proven anything by beating the still hapless Cardinals, who are playing for the first pick in next year's draft. The Cowboys (5-4) are simply back to the win one, lose one mode they have been in all season.

The Cowboys came into the season with hopes of a playoff berth and a Super Bowl run. The best test for them comes Sunday at home against the undefeated Indianapolis Colts.

The Cowboys know they can take a big step forward against Peyton Manning and the league's best team. Either they make a statement with a victory or they fall back to .500 heading into the Thanksgiving Day game against the Buccaneers four days later.

"Yes, I do still have those goals," owner Jerry Jones said of the Cowboys' pre-season Super Bowl aspirations. "I can see them. We play Indianapolis at home. If we have a big game there, you feel like if you can get in the playoffs anything can happen.

"We loaded the wagon this year to put ourselves in position to compete for everything," Jones added.

Jones' opinion is particularly important because he suggested the Cowboys were taking a step back when they benched veteran quarterback Drew Bledsoe in favor of the unproven and unknown Tony Romo.

Coach Bill Parcells said he sold out in the offseason to put a Super Bowl team on the field with the addition of receiver Terrell Owens and kicker Mike Vanderjagt and a contract extension for quarterback Drew Bledsoe. He said his confidence in a big season was based on having a veteran quarterback. But the more he sees Romo play, the more he believes they can still accomplish all of their goals.

The Cardinals game was the third start for Romo since replacing Bledsoe. He is more comfortable and more in charge with each passing game. He completed 20 of 29 passes for 308 yards and two touchdowns against the Cardinals for his best performance. He was also impressive with his ability to avoid sacks and scramble to make plays.

"I knew if we went from an experienced veteran quarterback, that meant the wheels came off somewhere." Jones said of the switch to Romo. "You couldn't have anticipated -- and wouldn't (have anticipated) -- the kind of poise and execution and the way Tony plays within himself. It was just too much to expect. But it is rewarding. It looks like as he evolves we've got a guy that can be good for the future."

Romo has thrown for more than 250 yards in three consecutive games, the first Cowboys quarterback to accomplish that feat since Troy Aikman threw for over 250 yards in the first four games of the 1993 season. Romo has also posted a quarterback rating of 100.0-or-more in two consecutive games. The first Dallas quarterback to do that since Vinny Testaverde in Weeks Six and Seven of the 2004 season.

For the season Romo is second in the NFL with a 101.2 quarterback rating, just behind next week's opponent, Peyton Manning of the Colts at 104.5. But is he ready to take on Manning?

"It will be fun next week," Romo said. "That is why you play the game."

--S Pat Watkins had an interception against the Cardinals. He was a last minute addition to the game after Marcus Coleman was released following his DWI arrest early Saturday morning. Watkins, who started the first six games before being benched for poor play, was expected to be inactive. But the Cowboys showed little patience with Coleman, who missed the first four games of the season with a NFL substance abuse suspension.

--WR Terry Glenn didn't play against the Cardinals because of a lingering knee injury. The Cowboys wanted to give him some time to rest it. Rookie Sam Hurd started in his place, catching four passes for 42 yards. Third receiver Patrick Crayton also picked up the slack with five catches for a career high 104 yards.

--DE Greg Ellis is out for the season after tearing the Achilles tendon in his left leg. He might be replaced by disappointing first round pick Bobby Carpenter.

--WR Terrell Owens has a problem with dropped passes. He dropped two against the Cardinals because he said he was pressing too much. Owens rebounded with five catches for 96 yards, including a 51 yard touchdown grab.

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