KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
TV: FOX, Matt Vasgersian, Brian Baldinger
SERIES: 83rd meeting. Dallas leads the series 53-28-1. Dallas has only faced
three other teams - Philadelphia, N.Y. Giants and Washington - more than the
82 times they have faced the Cardinals in regular-season action. The Cowboys
have won 20 of the last 30 meetings. Dallas had a 13-game win streak over
Arizona (1990-96), the longest win streak against an opponent in club
history. The Cowboys have faced the Cardinals just two times since Arizona
moved from the NFC East to the NFC West.
2005 RANKINGS: Cardinals: offense 11th (31st rush, 4th pass); defense 15th
(12th rush, 19th pass). Cowboys: offense 6th (14th rush, 9th pass); defense
7th (7th rush, 14th pass)
PREDICTION: Cowboys 27-20
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Cardinals own the league's second-worst rushing
attack, which is a bad omen considering Dallas already enters the game
leading the league in average time of possession (34:14). The problem for
the Cowboys has been capitalizing on drives (13 touchdowns in 27 red-zone
possessions) and holding leads, which won't be easy fixes if RB Julius Jones
misses a third consecutive game. Rookie Marion Barber is more solid in pass
protection and would get the majority of the snaps again over Tyson
Thompson. QB Josh McCown is expected to make his fourth consecutive for
Arizona, but must get more help from his running game. The Cardinals'
offense has just six touchdowns this season, and none on the ground.
FAST FACTS: Cardinals: With seven receptions, WR Anquan Boldin would become
the fastest ever (32 games) to 200 for his career. ... K Neil Rackers has
converted a franchise-record 20 consecutive field goal attempts. Cowboys:
Coach Bill Parcells will make second attempt to tie Paul Brown (170) for
ninth place on the all-time wins list. ... QB Drew Bledsoe needs five
touchdown passes to pass George Blanda (236) and Jim Kelly (237) for 15th
--T Fred Wakefield is expected to start at right tackle for at least one
more week. The usual starter, Oliver Ross, is still out with a broken hand.
--OLB Karlos Dansby (knee) returned to practice Thursday after missing
Wednesday's workout. He's listed as probable.
--WR Bryant Johnson needs to play a bigger part in the offense. The third
receiver, Johnson has just 13 receptions. The team cut its No. 4 receiver,
Charles Lee, last week, leaving no experience behind Johnson.
--WR LeRon McCoy, a rookie, likely will be active Sunday for just the
second time this season. McCoy will be the No. 4 receiver. He's very fast
but he had trouble hanging on to the ball in preseason.
--KR J.J. Moses could be return punts this week, replacing Reggie
Swinton, who has a torn ligament in his toe.
--RB Marcel Shipp is averaging just 2.5 yards a carry, and his longest
run is 16 yards. Shipp rarely has room to run and he frequently has to dodge
tacklers in the backfield because the offensive line is not blocking well.
--QB Drew Bledsoe has been a part of five fumbled snaps in seven games.
Without assessing blame, coach Bill Parcells noted that center Al Johnson
didn't have any fumble problems last year with Vinny Testaverde and Bledsoe
is the only part of the equation that has changed.
"It's something that's completely unacceptable," Bledsoe said. "And it's
something that can't be a problem for us going forward from here. It's
simply something that can't happen anymore."
--G Ben Noll has been getting reps at right tackle, partly for depth
purposes and partly because of the struggles of rookie right tackle Rob
--T Ethan Brooks, signed last week for depth purposes following the
injury to Flozell Adams, has been practicing at left and right tackle.
--K Shaun Suisham has a different presence in the locker room now that he
is on the active roster rather than being a member of the practice squad.
"I feel very comfortable," Suisham said. "It feels like I belong here."
Cowboys coach Bill Parcells just needs to start getting his name right.
He called him "Scott" on Monday after naming him the replacement for the
released Jose Cortez.
Suisham, a rookie from Bowling Green, carried a 68 percent (45-of-66)
career field-goal percentage in college, with a long of 52 yards. He went to
training camp with the Steelers before being released and joining the
Cowboys practice squad at the start of the season. "We've been looking at
this player for quite awhile," Parcells said. "We kind of liked what we
--RB Julius Jones (ankle) doesn't appear closer to playing than last
week. He has missed the last two games. With a bye next week, the Cowboys
could hold him out until a Nov. 14 matchup at Philadelphia.
--LB Dat Nguyen appears ready to go after missing the last three games
with a stinger. Nguyen has been practiced without incident and has been
removed from the injury report.
INSIDE THE CAMPS:
Dennis Green decided to stick with Josh McCown as his starting
quarterback, even though Kurt Warner has recovered from a torn groin muscle.
Green, however, won't say why he's starting McCown for a fourth straight
"Oh, I'm not going to get into that," Green said. "We think this will
help us win. Any decision we make, we take that into account, regardless of
whether it's a real big decision or an every day decision."
This is a big decision. McCown is 2-1 this year as starter after going
6-7 last year. Green lost confidence in him and signed Warner to a one-year,
$4 million deal.
Warner hasn't played since suffering a torn groin muscle against Seattle
in week three.
McCown played well in his first two games, passing for a total of 783
yards. Last week, he struggled, missing several open receivers, including
two near the end zone.
He is considerably more mobile than Warner, which had to have played a
part in Green's decision. Dallas has an excellent pass rush, so the ability
to run will work in McCown's favor.
McCown's biggest challenge will be keeping a rein on his emotions. He's
excitable, and he grew up a Cowboys fans, so playing in Texas Stadium will
be special to him.
He's got to stay calm and make good decisions Sunday.
"You just have to play smart football," he said. "Against Carolina, we
have over 400 yards but we had (four) turnovers and we lost. Then we came
out and we did not have a great game offensively (against Tennessee). But we
were plus-1 in the turnover column. If you play smart football, you're going
to give yourself a chance to win."
The Cowboys offense has been very conservative the past couple of weeks
because of pass protection concerns.
Often the Cowboys are running two-man pass routes, keeping a couple of
their main weapons in as blockers in maximum protection schemes.
Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten and Throw-me-the-damn-ball receiver
Keyshawn Johnson have spent an increasing amount of time blocking lately.
Both are having to help tackles Rob Pettiti and Torrin Tucker, who replaced
the injured Flozell Adams at left tackle.
"If we pass it 25 times, usually I'm going out on 22 (pass) routes,"
Witten said of the offense with Adams at LT. "Now, if we're trying 25
passes, it's 12 or 15. It's a different role for me. Now you are protecting
and helping block. It's another body on those guys. It's not always a double
team. It's 'Chip this guy, watch this guy and then get out (into a
Coach Bill Parcells says he is doing what he has to do protect quarterback
Bledsoe, however, has been lobbying Parcells to open the offense back up.
Assistant head coach/passing game coordinator Sean Payton, who also calls
the plays, has also been in Parcells' ear about opening the offense.
Conservative play-calling was certainly a big factor in the loss to the
Seahawks last Sunday.
Pettiti had arguably his worst game of the season, giving up two sacks
and two pressures and getting called for holding. Even though Tucker was
solid, the play-calling was altered.
"Torrin did a nice job, but it may have changed our approach because when
Flo was out there, we never worried about him," Bledsoe said.
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