Emptying the Post-Cincy Notebook

Emptying the notebook while wondering how a 33-21 victory can possibly "stink.''

ITEM: So a local media person uses the word "stink'' in the middle of a question to Wade, and as the coach is ambling off the podium, he mumbles, "I think you stink.''

The bar is high here. We've discussed this before. Somehow, nine-point wins over the Bengals aren't enough (especially if you are a reporter with maybe an acute awareness of how the line bloated to -17).

Did the Cowboys "stink''? Not when they got ahead 17-0.

Not when they closed the game out with a drive capped by a fortuitous carom from Romo to the hands of Miles Austin to the end-zone-occupying hands of Patrick Crayton.

But maybe just a little in between.

Still, here's what the Cowboys fan/reporter needs to remind himself of: There was nothing – NOTHING – that transpired in the win over the Bengals that precludes Dallas from making its February run at the Super Bowl. NOTHING.

From across the Trinity, JJT declares: "I keep writing that wins and losses for this team aren't as important as how the Cowboys play.''

That is simply and frankly wrong. Completely and absolutely wrong. Style points are for gymnastics. Football is about scoreboard. Period.

I know every little missed assignment in October seems magnified because … well, because it's October. But it will likely be forgotten in February.

Hell, it'll likely be forgotten by next weekend.

ITEM: You want overreaction? I loved Phil Simms describing the dejected "body language'' on the Dallas sideline when they were "only'' ahead in the game. I loved ol' Randy saying the win is "dog-butted.'' I loved JJT's in-print assertion that the Cowboys, having lost that 17-point edge, have "taken on the personality of their coach. This is not a good thing.''

Here's what so bogus about this: Why is it they only take on the image of their cuddly coach when they give up points or don't score? Why is the 17-0 lead not also a reflection of the coach? How is a 12-of-13-win pace "dog-butted''?


ITEM: The only highlight for Chad Johnson (three catches, 43 yards) was the opportunity to pose for a pregame photo with the man he likely hopes is his future employer, Jerry Jones.

There was no "kiss the star'' moment. All Ocho Cinco offered up was some "kiss the Cowboys' butt'' moments. He wants a job. Clip-and-save.

ITEM: T.O. did his thing, with a 57-yard catch-and-run for a huge TD and some reported sideline tears of frustration during the team's occasional struggles. Is that enough touches? Does Terrell Owens really want touches more than he wants wins? I know I'm in the media minority here, but I simply don't believe he thinks that way. While Bob Costas is saying Owens has a "personality disorder'' – viable, I suppose, just as Bob might have a disorder that manifests itself in his psychoanalyzing strangers he sees on TV -- I simply don't believe humans operate that way.

ITEM: Going in, I talked about Dallas' yards-per-carry numbers (4.9) and how that good stat should inflate against Cincy. Prediction come true, as MB3 was given eight touches before the Bengals could blink. As Felix was given a perimeter carry and took it 33 for the score – on his very first touch. As 4.9 became 5.2.

Felix, by the way, has in just one short month become an NFL rarity: And on each and every one of his sweep opportunities, we were on the verge of a leap-to-your-feet moment.

ITEM: Are there enough balls to go around?

Owens will have to be satisfied with his two catches, his one carry, his one score and his one win. Witten caught eight. Barber got 25 touches. Felix had 10 touches.

Despite all the hand-wringing – and with continued efforts to pacify Owens -- that seems about right to me.

ITEM: The broadcasting network, NBC, certainly embraced the circus, highlighting the week-long comments of Chad and Terrell. All the media did the same. And the players were quite aware of it. Now, admit it: While you sweated this thing out, you kind of enjoyed it, too, didn't you?

The Cowboys inaugurated this game against the winless visitors by finally getting that first interception – and Greg Ellis did the honors on the very first Bengals pass of the game. Let the record show that the pick is credited to a defensive back, kinda; pass-rusher/linebacker/former end Ellis was, by virtue of Dallas coverage against that particular Cincy package, backpedaling into "cornerback'' position.

ITEM: Cincinnati entered the game on pace to yield 48 sacks. They gave up two here, one to Jay Ratliff (a nose tackle who already has three on the season) and one from DeMarcus Ware (who now has sacks in eight straight games.)

ITEM: I'd written that Dallas should "Make an early statement that you know to avoid the trap. Make an early statement that deflates the visitors' slim hopes – essentially putting the Bengals out of their misery.'' Dallas made that early statement. … but in truth, both teams went through some misery here.

As a result of that, I know the pre-game hand-wringing will increase in some circles, to the point where some OCD media types might rub the skin clean off their hands. My only concern: I am starting to wonder if something at least minor is bothering Tony Romo physically; he threw for three TDs, but the two turnovers just somehow looked wrong.

ITEM: Nevertheless, wins are difficult to come by. Aikman used to preach that. And now Romo finds himself obliged to do the same.

"I'm pretty sure we won the game,'' Romo said sarcastically.

""We are all happy we won,'' added Wade. "It's hard to do in this league, and we did it today.''

Well, we're not all happy. But me? I feel pretty good about it – and while preparing for a season of trap games and quicksand and circus freakiness, you should feel pretty good about the 4-1 Cowboys, too.

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