Lions at Cowboys Snap Shot

A look at all the story lines in today's game. <BR>

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 10/31/04
TV: FOX, Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa
SERIES: 19th meeting. The Cowboys and Detroit Lions series is tied 9-9. The Cowboys have lost eight of the last 11 meetings. Eight of the 18 games have been decided by a touchdown or less.

2004 RANKINGS: Lions: offense 32nd (31st rush, 29th pass); defense 30th (11th rush, 29th pass). Cowboys: offense 10th (26th rush, 6th pass); defense 25th (29th rush, 16th pass).

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Lions are dead last in the league in total offense, but have kept themselves in games with a plus-10 turnover margin. A big reason is QB Joey Harrington doesn't take many risks downfield, but the Cowboys secondary, and CB Terrence Newman in particular has struggled in recent games. Still, the Lions want to attack the league's third-worst run defense with rookie RB Kevin Jones, who looked solid last Sunday in his return from an ankle injury. The good news for Dallas is Detroit's strength is its run defense. The Cowboys have little running game to speak of and QB Vinny Testaverde will target a weak secondary. The Lions must continue to get pressure from their front four to keep Testaverde from picking them apart downfield. he should attack a Cowboys secondary that has been under fire in recent weeks. CB Terrence Newman has struggled in particular.

FAST FACTS: Lions: Have won eight of the past 11 meetings. ... QB Joey Harrington has a 62.7 completion percentage and 94.9 passer rating, compared to 53.3 and 62.2 through his first two seasons. ... Cowboys: Coach Bill Parcells is 6-3 against the Detroit. ... QB Vinny Testaverde has thrown just one interception in his last 126 attempts.

PERSONNEL NEWS: Lions: -- RB Kevin Jones is still working on getting his high ankle sprain back to 100 percent, but he is expected to play Sunday when the Lions go for a fourth consecutive road win in their game at Dallas. Jones, a late first-round draft pick, had his best game last Sunday against the New York Giants with 65 yards on 13 carries, including runs of 20 and 22 yards.

-- CB Fernando Bryant is getting limited practice time as he recovers from a groin injury and ankle sprain suffered in the Lions' Oct. 17 game against the Green Bay Packers. If Bryant isn't ready, Chris Cash will probably fill in for him for the second consecutive week.

-- WR Roy Williams is getting very limited practice time this week as the Lions try to get him back from a sprained ankle suffered Oct. 10 at Atlanta. Williams missed one game, came back for four catches for 67 yards and a touchdown in the road game against the Giants, but tweaked the ankle injury in the fourth quarter. The Lions believe he still has a good chance to play Sunday at Dallas, although he might not be 100 percent.

-- FB Cory Schlesinger tried to rush back to action after a hamstring injury and has missed the last two games as a result. The Lions are limiting his practice this week and hope he will be able to play Sunday at Dallas. However, they could survive with backup FB Stephen Trejo, who had a good game last week against the Giants.

-- WR Az-Zahir Hakim is getting only part-time practice this week because of a sprained ankle. If Hakim can't play, WRs Tai Streets and Reggie Swinton are likely to be asked to pick up the slack.

Cowboys: -- WR Terry Glenn's absence for at least the next two weeks with a mid-foot strain will make the previously pass-happy Cowboys less potent through the air.

Coach Bill Parcells said not having Glenn is a huge loss. Not only was he having a great season but the Cowboys have no one on their roster who can replace the kind of things he does on the field. His ability to get down the field quickly was key to their ability to convert on third-and-long, putting more of a premium on the Cowboys to get more done on first down and create more third-and-short situations.

-- WR Randall Williams, who has no career catches, is expected to get his first career start in place of the injured Terry Glenn. Veteran Dedric Ward will probably be used as the third receiver.

"Someone's got to step up and some of these guys have got to," Parcells said. "Randal Williams has been here four years. It's about time we find out what he can do. If he can do it, he can do it. And we've got some young guys, they've got to ... this is the opportunity they wanted.

They can do it. I'm not using losing Terry as an excuse. I'm really not."

-- WR Quincy Morgan has not practiced all week with a pull hamstring. Parcells will make a decision by Saturday on whether Morgan is well enough to play. If not, he will likely add either Terence Copper or Patrick Crayton from the practice squad.

-- DE Greg Ellis has been added to injury report as probable with a foot injury. Ellis has not missed practice and not only does he expect to play but he hopes to start a new sack streak. Ellis, who leads the Cowboys with six sacks, had a four-game sack streak snapped last Sunday against the Packers.

-- PK Billy Cundiff must be more consistent in kicking the ball high and deep on kickoffs if the Cowboys hope to contain Detroit returner Eddie Drummond, who ranks second in the NFL and has brought one back 99 yards for a touchdown. The Cowboys were gashed last week by the Packers on kickoff returns because of short kicks and poor coverage.

INSIDE THE CAMPS: Lions: The Lions will not be without incentives when they meet the Dallas Cowboys at Texas Stadium on Sunday.

They will be shooting for a fourth consecutive road win and a 5-2 overall record, and there is also the matter of last year's humiliation (38-7) at Ford Field in Detroit.

Coach Steve Mariucci says he never looks back at a loss after the first 24 hours of film review and advises his players to do the same thing. But, in the case of last year's Dallas game, he admits: "They got us pretty good."

The two teams have started the 2004 season headed in different directions. The Cowboys are 2-4, have lost three in a row and are struggling with injuries to their offense. The Lions, for a change, are off to a fast start with four wins in six games and are getting plays from their young offensive playmakers - wide receiver Ray Williams and running back Kevin Jones.

The question is whether the Lions can keep their streak alive. Their three-game road winning streak is out of character for a team that set the NFL record with 24 consecutive road losses over the previous three seasons.

The Lions' defense - led defensive tackle Shaun Rogers of Texas - has been keeping the Lions in games and, in the four wins at least, the offense has come up with just enough plays to win.

Cowboys: At 2-4 heading into Sunday's must-win matchup against Lions, the Cowboys have lost three consecutive games and have taken a noticeable step back from last season's 10-6 team.

Coach Bill Parcells is going about his business instituting strategic changes to the Cowboys' game plan in hopes of turning the season around. He has also worked them less this week in an effort to save their energy.

But he's also spending as much time working on their mental psyche as well, forcing him to watch their body language in practice and meeting rooms.

"I definitely have my eye on that," Parcells said. "You have to have your eye on that. You know I worry about my team listening to me, you worry about all of those things. That's an honest evaluation. You worry about everything like that. You've got to figure out a way to try to keep them together because no one else is. The hearses are out, they're dead, the flowers are ordered. I know it, I've seen it. I've seen it all before."

Parcells has seen it all before, which is why there is a sense of urgency in what he's trying to do.

But don't call him or the Cowboys desperate. Either the Cowboys will get this turned around or they won't Parcells says, likely leading to wholesale changes that the media is supposedly clamoring for.

But not now, and just don't call them desperate because his life is not about to end.

"I know the euphoria and the disaster stuff," Parcells said. "Right now, it's disaster. I got it. We need to win. Obviously we need to win. But I've got half of you wanting to change the whole lineup so you can see someone else. I mean, it's true. Put him in. I've got a quarterback who has thrown one interception in 125 throws. You've been crying the blues about having a quarterback who can at least execute, now you want to see somebody else. Come on? Not yet. I'm not ready for that.

"We need to get going here. Whether we will, I don't know. You know, at some point in time, if this doesn't work, then we'll get rid of these guys and we'll start over. But I'm not where the media is or where everyone else is about this team yet. I'm not there. Now maybe I'm just lagging behind. I could be, but I don't think so."

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