Lions prepare for divided Cowboys team

While Marty Mornhinweg won't second guess himself regarding his critical fourth-and-one call in Sunday's 24-17 loss to Buffalo, many Dallas Cowboy players are second guessing Emmitt Smith's celebration in the face of a heartbreaking loss to Seattle. Lions insider Mike Fowler has learned that several Cowboy players are privately "steamed" that Smith celebrated on the field with fans while the rest of the team was left to deal with a difficult loss.

(ALLEN PARK, MI)--Monday press conferences after a loss are never any fun. Marty Mornhinweg went through that drill again this week citing the positives in the Lions "program." While he was disappointed with the 24-17 loss, Mornhinweg defended his decision to run a deep handoff behind backup offensive tackle Matt Joyce.

"I want to stay away from reasons and excuses and those types of things," he said. "Earlier in the game Cory (Schlesinger) was banged up so I wanted to stay away from giving it to him so James (Stewart) was going to be our short-yardage runner and all of our plays were for him. There were a lot of things, with our tackle spot, our tight end spot and those types of things. On that fourth-down it was between run or pass and I chose that run because it had worked before."

"We're not second-guessing ourselves at all; you just can't do that."

Fair enough.

Mornhinweg and Co. can't do anything about the outcome. Still one can't help but wonder what might have been if the Lions had gotten that first down. It might have been similar to the Chicago game where Detroit tied it at the end and then won it in overtime with a field goal.

Had Detroit been able to pull that game out, it would have given them sole possession of second place in the division (albeit with a 3-4 record), and with a home game approaching against a beatable team that could have gotten them to .500.

With that water under the bridge, Detroit turns their attention fully to the Dallas Cowboys. With Dallas coming off a loss to the Seattle Seahawks and its locker room fully divided after Emmitt Smith accomplished his career goal by breaking Walter Payton's all time rushing mark, Detroit has an opportunity to get untracked.

Coach Mornhinweg wants to take full advantage of this opportunity. "One of the first things is this football team is in the midst of establishing that home field advantage. Our fans are important and the new building is important for the outcome of the game. We need to get that thing rock-n-rolling. We'll discuss a little bit of that today just like we do every week we play at home."

Detroit couldn't be catching Dallas at a better time.

The whole Emmitt Smith rushing thing has distracted the entire Cowboys organization.

While no one wants to talk about it publicly, the Cowboys dressing room was divided after Sunday's contest. Several players were privately steamed that Emmitt Smith was celebrating out on the 50-yard line with fans after breaking the record while the rest of the team was frustrated by a last-second loss to Seattle.

While Smith was taking phone calls from President Bush and driving off in a new Lamborghini-- a present from his wife Patricia Southhall, yes, that Patricia Southhall (the ex-wife of comedian Martin Lawrence)--his teammate fumed over another loss.

Linebacker Kevin Hardy expressed it more than most. "It was almost like the game was overshadowed by the record," Hardy said. "But the thing is, we had the opportunity to win the football game and to make the whole day special, and it just didn't happen.

"I know that I was prepared to go out and watch the ceremony and celebrate in the locker room and stuff. But there was a bigger part of me that was just disappointed and said, 'I'm going home.'

"That's what happens, though, because winning games means so much to this team right now, with the situation we're in."

Safety Darren Woodson, who also broke the Cowboys all-time tackles mark with 1,237, eclipsing Lee Roy Jordan, unleashed a thinly veiled remark regarding the whole celebration going on outside the locker room on the field.

"I've never really looked at breaking records as any of my goals. My whole goal is about going to the Super Bowl and winning it. That's the only goal I have as far as football is concerned."

Detroit is in perfect position to add to the Cowboys dissension Sunday by sending Dallas home, with yet another loss.

Hey, you think Barry Sanders will show up to congratulate Emmitt?


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