Terrell Owens' love affair with Tony Romo and the rest of his Dallas teammates may be turning down the rocky path that his relationships with Donovan McNabb and Jeff Garcia followed. At least it seemed that way after the Cowboys lost Sunday for the first time this season.
``I'm a competitor and I want the ball,'' T.O. said after the 26-24 loss to the Redskins, ending the speculation that Dallas might emulate New England and go 16-0 this season, finishing the deal in the Super Bowl, which the Patriots didn't.
That was a silly dream. What the Patriots did was a once-in-35 years kind of thing. Moreover, as Washington demonstrated, this season's NFC East is not last year's AFC East, through which New England breezed.
coordinator who has been effectively designated by said owner as the current coach's successor.
Plus a locker room with at least three players who were run off other teams for reasons unrelated to their talent.
So here was the most prominent and skilled of those three after Sunday's game, whining that he should have been involved in more than 20 of the 58 offensive plays the Cowboys ran against the Redskins.
Yes, he was implicating the coaching staff for not recognizing that he must be the focal point of the offense. He also was implicating Romo, the same ``friend'' he defended with tears after the unexpected playoff loss to the Giants last January, saying from behind dark glasses: ``You can point the finger at him .... and if you do that, it's really unfair. That's my teammate. My quarterback. We lost as a team.''
Funny he didn't utter the ``T as in team'' word on Sunday. The only ``T'' involved was the first initial of his first name.
First of all, give some credit to the Redskins.
Then blame Jerry Jones (``Coach Jones'' for long periods during his 20 years of ownership); coach Wade Phillips; and Jason Garrett, the offensive coordinator and head coach in waiting.
For the most obvious stat to come out of the loss was not Owens' seven catches for 71 yards; 11 yards rushing on two reverses; and 11 other plays designed for him.
r 26 yards and that Felix Jones did not touch the ball from scrimmage.
Barber came in with 285 yards rushing for a 4.6 average and four touchdowns in three games. Jones, the explosive rookie, had scored in all three games and had 148 yards on 18 carries, an 8.2 average. One of the touchdowns was a 60-yard run, another a 98-yard kickoff return.
Were Jones, Phillips, Garrett and Romo catering to T.O at the expense of the running game? Were they scared of the Redskins' run defense? Washington ranked 16th in a 32-team league against the run, allowing 108 yards per game. Although to be fair, almost half those yards, 154, came in their opener against the Giants, their only loss. They improved markedly against the Saints (55 yards) and Cardinals (116).
But does that mean the Cowboys had to stop trying to run? Barber is a punishing runner who can wear down opponents in the second half and it wasn't as if they got way behind and had to throw on every play. They trailed 17-10 at the half and it was 17-17 in the third quarter.
None of this might matter in the long run. The Cowboys might finish 15-1. Or, more likely, 13-3 or 12-4 because they play in the NFL's best division.
at playing a team game can be liberating and good for your stats. His stats - a record 23 TD catches - speak to that.
T.O. seemed to have gotten that message during his first two seasons in Dallas. But Sunday's outburst is more suggestive of the kind he had weekly in San Francisco and in his second year in Philadelphia.
``Everybody recognized that I wasn't really getting the ball in the first half,'' Owens said. ``I'm pretty sure everybody watching the game recognized it, people in the stands recognized it. I think my team recognized it.''
That's the ``I'' word three times in three sentences.
Bill Belichick or Tom Coughlin or Andy Reid or Bill Parcells would end that immediately. Reid, in fact, suspended Owens in Philadelphia in 2005, and Coughlin suspended the Giants' star receiver, Plaxico Burress, when he declined to show up for practice last Monday.
Phillips doesn't have that power.
Jones brought Owens to Dallas and he also gave Phillips a third head coaching job when Parcells left after the 2006 season. By several accounts, the Tuna was tired of dealing with the distractions.
The biggest distraction is T.O.
In a season when the Cowboys remain a solid favorite to win the Super Bowl, Owens may be the reason they won't. If one loss sets him off this way, imagine what happens when Dallas inevitably loses another game or two.
In other words, the Cowboys may be the team that has the best shot of depriving the Cowboys of an NFL title.

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