Passing The Buck, And Passing On A Point

Flozell Adams is very particular with his money. You know, he's frugal. OK, maybe he's cheap. A couple of offseasons ago, Flozell returned to Dallas from a gambling excursion in Las Vegas. A good time was had by all, I'm sure, but one thing that happened in Vegas that didn't stay in Vegas: Flozell lost 50 bucks.

"Fifty bucks!'' Flozell's pals say he moaned during the plane trip back home. "Fifty bucks!''

My reasons for relaying that anecdote in the wake of Dallas' 22-19 loss at Washington are two-fold:

One, I figured Adams and the rest of the Cowboys' offensive linemen -- for much of this season waist-deep in dough and waist-deep in woe -- deserve to be thrown a bone for existing as a rare bright spot in an otherwise bizarre loss.

And two, I figured Adams' understanding of the value of a buck might want to point that out to coach Bill Parcells, who apparently understands only the passing of one.

First to Coach, and to both his twisted devotion to "The Chart'' and his wrongheaded pooh-poohing of his devotion to it.

The Cowboys had taken a 6-5 lead to start the second quarter. "The Chart'' -- a mathematical-minded guide used (and misused) by coaches to determine when to go for the 2-point conversion -- does indeed instruct teams to go for 2 when trailing by 1. What "The Chart's'' designers never bothered scribbling on there was WHEN to apply their math. Logic says this: One-point-vs.-two-point decisions are NOT applicable early in the game. Period.

But when Parcells opted to go for 2 and failed, the Cowboys found themselves playing a game of "Catch-Up'' throughout, all because of that very important "free'' point the coach failed to scoop up.

When Dallas was up 6-5, it could've been 7-5. When Dallas was up 9-5, it could've been 10-5. When Dallas was up 19-12, it could've been 20-12. And when the Redskins scored 10 points in the final quarter, those 10 points could've been one point shy of what was needed.

Could've? Nah. Should've.

"I go by the chart,'' Parcells barked to the media in his usual imperial manner. "To try to pick out (assorted) plays. ... It's that last play you need to be focusing on. Everything else, we were in a position to win with seven seconds to go.''

I love when Editor Parcells dictates to us what "The Story of The Game'' truly is, don't you?

"That last play'' was a goofy block of a Mike Vanderjagt field-goal try with seven ticks left. Washington's Sean Taylor picked up the loose ball and ran around in circles, returning it to the 50 as time expired. So it's overtime, except. ... During the runback, hustling offensive lineman Kyle Kozier's hand nipped Taylor's facemask. The Redskins were handed 15 yards, an additional tick of the clock, and a 47-yard game-winning field goal from Nick Novak.

The outcome made a goat of Kozier, which is what the Dallas O-line has been for much of the year. You'll recall Kozier was a disaster in the loss to Philly. Marc Colombo looked pedestrian when he was overmatched by Giants star Michael Strahan. Center Andre Gurode has made a name for himself only because his face got stuck to the bottom of Tennessee lineman Albert Insanesworth's shoe. Marco Rivera appears old and wise when he serves as a team spokesman but sometimes, otherwise just appears old.

And Flozell? Arguably the team's best O-lineman, a Pro Bowl-type, one of coach Bill Parcells' "St. Bernards'' who the coach says can perform at high levels if he "hits him with a bat.'' Problems with speed rushers. Problems with consistency. Problems with conditioning. Problems with concentration. On one NBC telecast earlier in the year, John Madden discussed in X-and-O detail how Flozell is now having habitual trouble getting up out of a stance.

Ugh.

There are losses for the 4-4 Cowboys that can be blamed on Adams and company. But last week, Dallas bulldozed Carolina, allowing just two sacks, Colombo rag-dolling NFL Defensive MVP candidate Julius Peppers and Rivera taking charge of the gameball and awarding it to new QB hero Tony Romo.

And against the Redskins, the O-line provided for some hope. The guys upfront guided Julius Jones to 73 yards and Marion Barber to 45 more. They provided the time for five Dallas receivers to contribute in the passing game. They pushed around the Redskins for scoring drives that took 10 plays, 12 plays, eight plays and eight plays. They again allowed a pair of sacks, but otherwise allowed Romo to perform some statistical magic (24-of-36 for 284 yards, two TDs, no picks, and if-only-T.O.-woulda-hung-onto-that-potential-long-distance-bomb!) Now, on the blocked FG, it appeared that Colombo (not Vanderjagt) was the culprit. Colombo, playing on the left end of the kick protection, opted to block the Redskin on the outside rather than the Redskin nearer him. That is a cardinal sin (at least it is in high school and below), and it freed Troy Vincent to stuff the kick.

So the O-line wasn't perfect. ...

"You can always look back on things,'' Romo said, refusing to second-guess any unsound decision or wobbly misstep. "We don't do that.''

Well, Parcells does. He just refuses to look back or second-guess HIS unsound decisions and HIS wobbly missteps.

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