Austin Shoulders Blame

IRVING, Tex. - Miles Austin is a dream employee for Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

He has rare athletic ability and is a model citizen on and off the field. He doesn't break rules, he's not late for meetings and is an almost annoying nice guy. He is smart and strong, and he works hard.

That said, Austin was made out to be Public Enemy No. 1 after Sunday's loss to the Minnesota Vikings, thanks to two not-so-smart penalties he committed. First he leapfrogged (see aforementioned freakish athletic ability) over teammate Roy Williams after Williams caught a touchdown pass to give the Cowboys a 7-0 lead; the resulting personal foul for excessive celbration was the team's second in as many weeks. Then, in the second quarter, he caught a 68-yard touchdown pass that was called back because Austin shoved off on Minnesota defensive back Asher Allen.

When the media invaded the understandably somber locker room Monday, Austin ripped himself for his gaffes and vowed never to repeat them.

"I really don't know what it is," he said when asked about his team's repeated penalties (as a team, the Cowboys drew 11 flags in Sunday's loss, which dropped them to 1-4 on the season). "(The penalties were) just so dumb on my behalf."

Despite the mental errors he and his teammates have made through the first five games of the season, Austin was staunch in his belief in his teammates and the chance the Cowboys have to get their season back on track.

"I'm not losing confidence at all," he said. "I think the guys all know what we can do."

That's true — throughout the Dallas locker room, players all said they remain confident because of the talent spread around the room. Each endorsement of the team's potential, however, came attached to a qualifier about eliminating mistakes.

"It was definitely a point of emphasis," Austin said when asked if excessive celebration was addressed last week in practice after Marc Colombo's celebration of a Jason Witten touchdown against Tennessee drew a costly flag in the Cowboys' loss to the Titans. "It was just such a dumb thing to do. It's inexcusable."

Austin said he was not chastised by head coach Wade Phillips when he got to the sideline after his penalties, nor did he need to be.

"He doesn't have to talk to me about it," Austin said. "No one can beat me up about it more than I have."

After assuming the responsibility for his mistakes, Austin said that belaboring what has gone wrong will do the Cowboys no good. Instead, he said, it is time to learn from past mistakes and go forward, playing better — and smarter — football.

"We've got to come together and fight back," Austin said. "That's what I plan on doing, and that's what everyone in here plans on doing."

Austin also assured the gathered throng of reporters that he would give no opportunity for a repeat of the line of questioning he faced Monday.

"I just can't put the team in a position like that again," he said. "I won't get called for celebrating again — I'll never do anything again to jeopardize the team like that again."

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