Age Is Served

"It is the failing of youth,'' the Roman philosopher Seneca said, "not to be able to restrain its own violence.''

Seneca predates Sunday's Cowboys 45-14 win at Tennessee by a couple of thousand years (I believe Seneca is one of Pat Summerall's old broadcast partners), but he was prescient when it comes to Dallas-vs-Titans and the young-vs.-old issues that contributed to an eventful outing.

Start with the Titans' side of things, and the heinous crime committed by defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. In the course of being pushed around by Dallas center Andre Gurode, while Julius Jones trotting up the middle for a 5-yard third-quarter TD that would greatly aid the eventual blowout, Haynesworth finished the play first by bending over the prone Gurode and appearing to slap his helmet from his head. Then Haynesworth stood up and drew his huge foot into the air and dropped it on Gurode's head. And then -- Gurode still helpless, part of a pile of bodies still on the ground -- the 6-6, 320-pound Haynesworth did it again, only with greater force. Cleats into Gurode's face. Causing holes that required 30-plus stitches. Damage very near the eye. With force that could've snapped the Cowboy's neck.

Albert Insaynesworth?

The 25-year-old Haynesworth, who drew two penalties and an ejection, later apologized for his actions, terming them "disgusting. It's something that should never happen. I mean, I'm not a dirty player. I don't play dirty. I have respect for the game. What I feel like is I disgraced the game, disgraced my team and disgraced my last name."

Why would one person stomp another's head as he were a winemaker and it, a grape? Why would any football player use Andre Gurode's exposed head as a welcome mat? There is no justification, but certainly the Titans were growing frustrated at the way Dallas wiped its feet all over Tennessee. This was supposed to be the "coming-out party for another youthful Titan, rookie QB Vince Young. The University of Texas product provided plenty of thrills, but was understandably overmatched by a Dallas defense that respected his physical gifts but must've appeared to Vince to be 1,000,000 games of Sudoku.

The Cowboys intercepted Young twice. One of those was returned 15 yards by Bradie James for a score. They forced a fumble, which was returned 53 yards by rookie Pat Watkins. Those three Vince turnovers led directly to 21 Cowboys' points.

From the young Titans' side of things to the "old'' Cowboys' side, where two of Dallas' big dogs are being chased by the perception that they're losing their teeth.

Cowboys QB Drew Bledsoe has certainly grown accustomed to being labeled "old''; he's heard it since the turn of the century. (Yes, smart guy, THIS turn of the century, not the previous one.) But Bledsoe looked positively frisky here, leaving his feet to make passes on the run, seeming confident and creative in completing 13-of-20 passes for an efficient 179 yards and two touchdowns, all adding up to a 106.0 QB rating.

Maybe it was the rest from coming off the bye week. Maybe it was an escape from the circus of the preparation week. Or maybe Bledsoe -- who claimed that nothing that happened in the last few days had an effect because the team is so ''sheltered'' from outside crap -- remains a blue-chip talent. Even at the "ancient'' age of 34!

And on the business end of Bledsoe's orchestration? Of course there were running backs Jones, Marion Barber and Tyson Thompson, all three of whom scored touchdowns. (Led by JuJo's 122, the Cowboys gained 217 yards rushing and averaged 5.3 yards per carry.) And there was Terry Glenn, again spectacular in snaring two TD catches.

But all eyes were naturally on Terrell Owens, on both his obviously swollen hand and on his arguably deflated psyche. Would T.O. have the clearance from his coach to play? Would T.O., following what is now officially termed an "accidental overdose,'' be clear-of-mind enough to play? Is there any way Lil' Kim Etheredge could screw this all up, or is she off to work on other PR undertakings, like spin control for Adolph Hitler, a record deal for Milli Vanilli, or leadership of the "Herpes: It's Actually Kinda Fun!' campaign?

Owens caught five balls for 88 yards, but did drop a potential touchdown catch. (For the record, in Lil' Kim lingo, that's "five reasons to be happy to be alive,'' 88 reasons to be happy to be alive,'' and "zero reasons to be happy to be alive.'') The zebras debated the play that occurred with 1:54 left in the first half before negating it.

"I felt like I caught it," said Owens. "I felt like, under two minutes, they should've reviewed it. But that's OK. Hey, we won the game."

And Terrell Owens was a vital part of that. Heck, he's been a vital part of every game this year, which flies in the face of what ESPN commentator Ron Jaworski said about him before the game. Jaws opined strongly that Owens "has diminished skills,'' that age (he's 33) has taken its toll.

Fine. Vince is Young. Albert Insaynesworth is young. Drew Bledsoe is old. Terrell Owens is old. T.O. actually sounded not "old,'' but rather "mature'' when he was asked about the 2-1 Cowboys' looming meeting with his ex-team and Dallas' archrival Philadelphia.

"We'll worry about that next week,'' Parcells said. "Right now, I just want to go home and get something to eat. I'm happy to win and we won by a good score. And we were able to win on the road. That's what you call a pretty good day in the NFL."

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