|Gap widening for undefeated Cowboys, who get better each week|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 02 October 2007 00:23|
Off to a 4-0 start for the first time since their last Super Bowl season a dozen years ago, the Cowboys have literally gotten better each game under Wade Phillips.
Tony Romo and Co. keep scoring at a record pace. And the defense, bolstered by the return of Terence Newman and Greg Ellis the past two weeks, has given up fewer touchdowns each game. They went from four in the season opener to none in their latest victory, improving the margin of victory in each game.
``We have a good team right now. We're playing well overall, and certainly have some talented players that have made plays for us,'' Phillips said Monday. ``Anytime your quarterback is playing like our quarterback's playing, that's a key factor. Our defense is solid. ... We've done what we can do, and probably a little better than that.''
The Cowboys and Green Bay are the NFC's only undefeated teams through the first month of the season. Dallas hasn't been in this position since 1995 with Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith.
``It's an advantage,'' owner Jerry Jones said. ``This is the way to buy some insurance. Or this is the way to anticipate not playing well every week. ... It's unrealistic to not think that that we might (lose some games). This gives us a better foundation.''
While the Triplets led the Cowboys to their fifth Super Bowl title that season, they didn't make it to 5-0 - that hasn't happened in Dallas since 1983, when Tom Landry was still coach.
The Romo-led Cowboys get their chance Monday night in Buffalo (1-3), where Phillips had his previous head coaching job. Phillips went 29-19 with two playoff appearances in Buffalo from 1998-2000 before stints as defensive coordinator in Atlanta and San Diego.
Newman's return at cornerback from a heel injury is timely. NFL interception leader Anthony Henry (four) is questionable because of a right high ankle sprain sustained Sunday. Newman might be a starter again after playing mostly in passing situations his first two games back.
``We're evaluating, but I think he'd be really iffy,'' Phillips said of Henry.
Ellis, whose contract was reworked last week, played Sunday for the first time since tearing his left Achilles' tendon in November. The outside linebacker played 15 snaps, getting 1 1/2 sacks and creating a lot of pressure.
``He came real close on a couple of other sacks,'' Phillips said. ``I'm real encouraged about where he is. That extra sack-and-a-half has given us more pressure.''
Phillips insists he doesn't have vindication on his mind going back to Buffalo with an undefeated team.
Instead, he's trying to keep the attention of his players, who got a rare Monday off after their 35-7 home victory over the St. Louis Rams, whose only score came on a punt return.
The Rams, Chicago and Miami - the last three opponents - are all among the NFL's four worst offenses. The Rams and Dolphins still haven't won a game.
``We still have to be realistic. The teams that we have played have only won three games,'' Phillips said. ``We have some tough games ahead of us and we know that. ... We can't get overconfident.''
Still, the Cowboys are the NFL's highest-scoring team, their 151 points being 22 more than the NFL record-holding 1998 Minnesota Vikings had at the same point. Dallas has scored 107 second-half points, more than the total scoring output of 26 NFL teams.
Romo has an NFL-best 11 TD passes. He already has three 300-yard games, matching the team season record and giving him six in 12 career games. Only Aikman (13), Danny White (10) and Don Meredith have more 300-yard games.
Plus, Romo has also been productive with his feet.
Before three TD passes in the third quarter Sunday, Romo scored the go-ahead TD on a 15-yard run 11 seconds before halftime. He kept that drive alive with his incredible escape after a third-down shotgun snap sailed over his head.
Romo was 33 yards behind the line of scrimmage, after initially knocking the ball farther back, when he finally controlled it. He then turned and started running, recovering all the yards he lost - plus the four needed for a first down.
Even knowing how the play ended, Phillips had a hard time watching again on tape.
``I don't want to watch it again,'' he said. ``When I watched it out there, I said, `Oh, no.' And when I put the tape on, I said `Oh, no' again.''