A 'Fantasy' Win For Cowboys

IRVING, Texas -- Gauging the mood of Sunday foes Dallas and St. Louis was as simple as checking out two of the faces of the respective franchises: Issac "I Guarantee It'' Bruce sat deep in the shadows of the Rams' bench alongside a mist machine (as if the 0-4 Rams needed any cooling off).

Meanwhile, Cowboys coach Wade Phillips celebrated every single big play made by his 4-0 team as if each member of the Dallas roster is also on Wade's Fantasy team.

And you know what? At this point, the Dallas Cowboys ARE a fantasy football team.

We didn't guarantee anything,'' said first-year boss Phillips, the goofy genius who wasn't wearing a headset, appears rumpled enough to have maybe spent last night sleeping in his car, and only occasionally checks a handful of notes that seem to have been scribbled on a rolled-up paper bag from Dunkin' Donuts. "But we got the win. … 4-0 is nice.''

Time and time again during Dallas' 35-7 victory, Wade jubilantly jumped up and down, threw his fists in the air, and laughed. Giggled, even. Especially when a member of the NFL's top-scoring team accomplished something, the coach jumped and pumped and giggled.

Some of Sunday's featured performers from a team seemingly bent on smashing the NFL record for points in a season?

Let's see. There was Jason Witten, again staking his claim as one of the NFL's best tight ends with six catches for 71 yards and a touchdown. The Rams were so befuddled by Witten's skillset that they tried checking him with cornerbacks – and even that desperate move failed.

There was whatever guy Dallas decides to line up opposite Terrell Owens. T.O. was good for three catches and 33 yards and the focus of St. Louis' coverage. That helped free Patrick Crayton to experience the day of his life, with seven catches and 184 yards, including TD receptions of 59 and 37 yards.

And in the middle of it all there was the magical Tony Romo. On a day when Romo's idol from Green Bay was setting the all-time NFL record for TD passes, the Cowboys' farve-a-like quarterback was doing a brilliant impersonation, completing 21 of 33 passes for 339 yards, three passing TDs and one rushing score. His touchdown on the ground came just before halftime – and on the same drive salvaged by him when he retreated 30 yards to track down an errant shotgun snap and then snaked 30-plus yards back north to provide Dallas with an important first down.

Said Phillips:"When that happened, it reminded me of Staubach because it was a miracle play. It jump-started us and the crowd.''

Jump. Pump. Giggle.

Almost lost in all of this record-setting-pace offense is the "Phillips 3-4,'' which against the Rams featured budding star Demarcus Ware being joined for the first time by recovering-from-injury Greg Ellis. With those two guys coming off the edges (Ware was nasty all day and had a sack, Ellis was credited with 1.5 sacks and received a gameball) the Cowboys' defense pitched a shutout against the Rams. Granted, St. Louis is a crummy club, a winless 13-point underdog featuring a busted-up QB in Marc Bulger, an absent star runner in the injured Stephen Jackson, a gone-for-the-year injured All-Pro left tackle in Orlando Pace and Bruce, who backed up his guarantee by contributing. … one catch.

Still, in the NFL, surrendering nothing but Dante Hall's 85-yard punt return counts as a very special effort. All of it is enough to cause one to wonder why Bruce would climb out on such an unreliable limb.

As T.O. said in a mock message to the NFL commissioner, "Roger Goodell, you might want to get (Bruce) drug-tested. Because I don't know what he was thinking about.''

What Issac Bruce had on his mind was a fantasy. The guys Wade Phillips has on his mind are a Fantasy TEAM.

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