Grandpa Fish Speaks...

IRVING, TX. - At first glance, the Cowboys at 8-4 are like that of new bestest buddies, Britney and Paris: You've seen all that you need to see -- and you kinda like what you see.

So let me apologize in advance for glancing back at Cowboys-at-Giants, for acting like Grandpa Spears and Grandpa Hilton, too curmudgeonly to be completely convinced that there isn't some negative in here somewhere.

Anyway, some Grandpa Fish negatives from Cowboys-at-Giants -- all the result of looking way too deep up the undercarriage of that game:

ITEM: One play that demonstates what NFL parity is, why being lucky is as good as being good, and why yt'all should say your prayers every night: The critical catch by Patrick Crayton could have easily been a game-winning interception by Gibril Wilson. Tony Romo's soft toss seemed to throw Wilson's timing off, and the ball slipped through the Giants defender's paws and into the well-covered Crayton's. Wilson holds on, he takes it the other way for 7, the Giants go up a TD, and "Blue Monday'' is the Dallas headline, not the NY headline.

I'm going to assume that Tony Romo said his prayers on Saturday night.

ITEM: When Martin Gramatica makes his kick, Bill Parcells suddenly looks like a genius button-pusher. Gramatica's presence on the team is in fact the result of a series of poor kicking-game calculations by the organization, with Mike Vanderjagt's presence (and maybe his release) only the tip of the iceberg. After Flozell's back-it-up penalty, did you like Martin's chances?

Me neither.

But hey, Bill Parcells is a button-pushing genius!

ITEM: Think back a couple of years, during the Dave Campo Era. I said it then, and I still believe it: Those Cowboys teams were among the worst tackling clubs I've ever seen. Now think back to Sunday: DeMarcus Ware takes on the monster Brandon Jacobs on a fourth-down plunge. Little Aaron Glenn squares up with the huge Plaxico Burress on a third-down quick-out. Jacobs is supposed to push the pile on fourth down. That's what he does. Burress is supposed to be able to outmuscle and outmove Glenn. Why else call for a 1-yard pass on third-and-long? Ware wins his battle. Glenn wins his.

All the way down to smallish Terence Newman, the Dallas Cowboys are a good tackling team. Nice.

I guess this isn't really a negative. It's a positive that was a long time comin'.

ITEM: Terrell Owens remains among football's most dangerous offensive weapons, and anybody who says his game (or his speed) is slipping is a hater. But T.O. is demonstrating another constant from years gone by: Those hands!

I actually believe it's not a "hands'' thing; Owens' hands are huge, he's a skilled handler of the ball in basketball, he's one of those guys who can nonchalantly catch warmup balls with one hand, either hand.

No, it's a concentration thing. (Maybe throwing in-season Hollywood birthdays for oneself qualifies as evidence of T.O.'s ADD?) But that doesn't excuse it; even though T.O. goes and gets you eight catches (more than all the rest of the wideouts combined), this was a game when he should have had 10.

Yes, the bar is high. T.O. put it up there himself -- with his own two faulty hands.

ITEM: Is Tony Romo for real? Is this some sort of a dream? Fox voice Jimmy Johnson wrapped up the national telecast Sunday by gushing about Romo in a way Jimmy used to gush only for Heineken, Blue Bell Ice Cream and a certain not-interested ex-Cowboys cheerleader.

From Romo's conduct with the media to Romo's dealings with his teammates to the way he's reinvigorated his coach to the actual plays he makes -- was the deep toss to roomie Jason Witten on the final drive a piece of artwork, or what? -- the whole thing seems surreal.

Did Romo really go all cocky on the sidelines against New York and tell the coaching staff to "let 'em score. ... give me one minute with two timeouts and we'll win''? Is that The Legend of Romo? Or the real deal?

A negative? I dunno. Are we going to get to the playoffs and sadly discover this guy is Tony Romortal?

ITEM: The pass rush is being slowed down. Maybe Ware is being asked to do too much. Maybe Greg Ellis is missed more than any of us thought. Maybe Bill Parcells is right to attempt to light a fire under the butts of people like Chris Canty and Marcus Spears.

"They better (improve) or they're going to be watching,'' Parcells said.

ITEM: Did we waste a pick on Julius Jones?

Don't get me wrong. He's a good guy and a good player. And I will make the argument that except if you are a Fantasy owner, an NFL team employing two good running backs is difficult to spin into a negative. But as Marion Barber III matures into something more than a goalline guy -- as he matures into a kid that is now playing pretty much half the time in JuJo's place -- don't you start to wonder what Barber would do if he was the every-down guy?

JuJo is at 3.9 yards per carry. Barber, despite the number of short-yardage carries he gets, is at 5.2.

ITEM: Let's be a little careful with all the slings and arrows we are now throwing at the New York Giants. Plaxico's stupidity. Eli's wimpiness. Shockey's theatrics. Bad clock management. Dopey comments from the locker room. Retirees and quitters and about-to-get-fired's.

Be careful, I say, because but for the grace of God go the Cowboys -- who, actually, already went there as recently as a few weeks ago.

So say some more prayers. And for goodness sakes, wear some underpants for the stretch run, will ya?

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