December 2009 - Dallas Cowboys Wiretap
Romo Says He's Confident In Williams
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo says that he's still confident in Roy Williams despite the wide receiver's drops this season. Williams leads the NFL with 10 drops in 2009. "No one has lost any confidence in Roy," Romo said Thursday, adding that he appreciated that Williams wanted to improve. "Roy is going to be a huge part of this going forward. He knows that. Hopefully, we're all going to have some good football ahead of us."
Williams Leads NFL In Drops
Cowboys wide receiver Roy Williams leads the NFL in dropped passes with 10, according to Elias Sports Bureau. According to STATS, Inc., Williams has caught only 44.7 percent of targeted passes, the sixth-worst percentage for receivers who have been targeted at least 50 times. Williams said earlier this week that he's to blame for his struggles and that Dallas quarterback Tony Romo has lost confidence in him.
Eagles Say Romo Is Better Without 'Distractions'
Eagles coach Andy Reid and quarterback Donovan McNabb hinted on Wednesday that Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is better without Terrell Owens. "It's obvious (Romo) is the leader of the offense," Reid said. "Not that he wasn't before, but there were a couple of distractions there and he doesn't have any of that. He's just playing great football." McNabb was asked about the differences in the Cowboys this year and last year. "It's Tony's team," McNabb said. "The good thing about playing the quarterback position, when you have the reins and you have command of the guys, and the guys are following along with everything they tell them and show them, good things can happen. You've seen in recent weeks, the team has really played well and Tony's played well as well. That's part of the difference you see on that whole ball team."
Williams: Romo Has Lost Confidence In Me
Cowboys wide receiver Roy Williams says that he's to blame for his struggles and that Tony Romo no longer has confidence in him. "You know I have to get the confidence of my quarterback, because I didn't get a look after the first half," Williams said. "I didn't get a look in the second half. That's telling me that my quarterback has lost confidence in me, and so has the coordinator as far as calling plays for me. "That's not on them. I don't blame them. I blame myself. I've got to get my crap together and try to help this team win some games in the playoffs." Romo threw only seven passes to Williams in wins over the Saints and Redskins in recent weeks.
Saints Get Home Field, Eagles Could Get Bye
We know what six teams will represent the NFC in the playoffs, but positioning is to be determined. With Minnesota's loss to Chicago on Monday night, New Orleans clinched the first overall seed and home-field throughout. Philadelphia can clinch the second bye, with the Saints getting the first, if they beat Dallas on Sunday and win the NFC East in the process. The Vikings can grab the bye if the Eagles lose and they win this Sunday. Arizona can take the bye if both Philadelphia and Minnesota lose and they win. The Packers will be either a No. 5 or No. 6 seed, but the Cowboys can jump all the way to No. 2 with a win over the Eagles and a loss by both the Vikings and Cardinals.
RealGM's Week 16 Rundown
The Jets defeated the Colts on Sunday afternoon to ensure that we'll have no undefeated teams in the NFL this season. We will calculate each team's Trench Counter*. San Diego 42, Tennessee 17 Team Trench Counter: Chargers +19.6, Titans -19.6 The San Diego Chargers (12-3) soundly defeated the Tennessee Titans (7-8) on Christmas Night to clinch a bye in the first round of the playoffs and knock the Titans out of the playoff picture. Philip Rivers went 21-for-27 with 264 yards and two touchdowns, LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for 59 yards and two scores and Darren Sproles added 38 rushing yards and another two trips to the end zone. Titans running back Chris Johnson had 142 yards and a touchdown, leaving him 128 yards shy of 2,000 for the season with one game left. Pittsburgh 23, Baltimore 20 Team Trench Counter: Steelers +7.9, Ravens -7.9 The Pittsburgh Steelers (8-7) kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a dramatic win over the rival Baltimore Ravens (8-7). Jeff Reed hit a 38-yard field goal with 5:25 remaining in regulation to give the Steelers a much-needed victory. Pittsburgh led 20-10 at halftime, but Baltimore scored 10 points in the third quarter, including a seven-yard pass from Joe Flacco to tight end Todd Heap, who had two catches for 37 yards and a pair of scores. Santonio Holmes was Pittsburgh?s offensive star. He caught five passes for 86 yards and a touchdown. Carolina 41, N.Y. Giants 9 Team Trench Counter: Panthers +21.8, Giants -21.8 In the most important game of their season, the New York Giants (8-7) collapsed against the Carolina Panthers (7-8). Matt Moore led the Panthers with 171 yards and three touchdowns and Jonathan Stewart exploded for 206 rushing yards and a score of his won as Carolina helped keep New York out of the postseason. Eli Manning went 29-for-43 with 296 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in the team?s final game at Giants Stadium. Manning also fumbled the ball in the damaging loss. Tampa Bay 20, New Orleans 17 (OT) Team Trench Counter: Buccaneers -1.6, Saints +1.6 Connor Barth kicked a 47-yard field goal in overtime to give the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-12) an upset win over the New Orleans Saints (13-2). Cadillac Williams starred with 129 rushing yards and a touchdown as the Saints lost for the second time in as many weeks. New Orleans jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, but Tampa Bay scored 20 of the game?s final 23 points, including 14 straight in the fourth quarter. Drew Brees went 32-for-37 for 258 yards and a touchdown in the loss. New England 35, Jacksonville 7 Team Trench Counter: Patriots +16.6, Jaguars -16.6 The New England Patriots (10-5) clinched the AFC East title with a dominant victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars (7-8) at Gillette Stadium. Tom Brady went 23-for-26 with 267 yards and four touchdowns, three of which went to Randy Moss, who had four catches for 45 yards. New England?s defense held Jacksonville scoreless until the 12:41 mark in the fourth quarter, when Jaguars quarterback David Garrard scampered two yards for a touchdown. Houston 27, Miami 20 Team Trench Counter: Texans +7.7, Dolphins -7.7 In a game with huge playoff implications the Houston Texans (8-7) outlasted the Miami Dolphins (7-8) on Sunday afternoon. Matt Schaub threw for 286 yards, two touchdowns and an interception and Arian Foster rushed for 97 yards and a score at Dolphins Stadium. The Texans jumped out to a 27-3 lead in the first half and hung on for a narrow victory as Miami charged back in the third and four quarters. Even with the win, Houston will need some help to make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. Green Bay 48, Seattle 10 Team Trench Counter: Packers +25.3, Seahawks -25.3 The Green Bay Packers (10-5) clinched a playoff berth with a win over the Seattle Seahawks (5-10) at Lambeau Field. Ryan Grant starred with 97 yards and two touchdowns, while Aaron Rodgers went 12-for-23 with 237 yards and a touchdown as Green Bay built a big lead early on. Ahman Green (29 yards and a score) and Brandon Jackson (39 total yards and three scores) got in on the fun as well. The Packers intercepted Matt Hasselbeck four times and kept the Seahawks out of the end zone until late in the fourth quarter when Hasselbeck connected with tight end John Carlson on a 16-yard touchdown. Cleveland 23, Oakland 9 Team Trench Counter: Browns +8.1, Raiders -8.1 Jerome Harrison didn?t break another single-game rushing record, but he did lead the Cleveland Browns (4-11) over the Oakland Raiders (5-10) on Sunday. Harrison rushed 39 times for 149 yards and a touchdown. His 17-yard run in the first quarter gave the Browns a lead that they would never lose at home. Charlie Frye, who started at quarterback for the Raiders, went 26-for-45 with 333 yards and three interceptions in the loss. Cincinnati 17, Kansas City 10 Team Trench Counter: Bengals +3.3, Chiefs -3.3 The Cincinnati Bengals (10-5) had just enough to beat the Kansas City Chiefs (3-12) to clinch the AFC North title. Carson Palmer connected with Chad Ochocinco on a six-yard touchdown pass with 2:03 left in regulation to push the Bengals to victory. Cedric Benson tallied 133 yards for Cincinnati, while Jamaal Charles rushed for 102 yards for the Chiefs. Larry Johnson, playing against his former team, had just 11 yards on four carries in the victory. Atlanta 31, Buffalo 3 Team Trench Counter: Falcons +20.8, Bills -20.8 The Atlanta Falcons (8-7) defeated the Buffalo Bills (5-10) in a game that had no playoff implications. Matt Ryan had 250 yards and three touchdowns, two of which went to Roddy White, who grabbed eight passes for 139 yards at the Georgia Dome. Atlanta?s defense held Buffalo to just 178 total yards and forced three turnovers (two interceptions by Brian Brohm and a fumble by Fred Jackson). San Francisco 20, Detroit 6 Team Trench Counter: 49ers +10.9, Lions -10.9 In yet another meaningless game, the San Francisco 49ers (7-8) dropped the Detroit Lions (2-13) on Sunday afternoon. Alex Smith posted 230 passing yards and a touchdown, while Frank Gore tallied 71 yards and a rushing touchdown at Candlestick Park. The Lions settled for two field goal as Drew Stanton tossed three interceptions and Detroit lost three fumbles (Stanton had one and Calvin Johnson the two others). Arizona 31, St. Louis 10 Team Trench Counter: Cardinals +18.6, Rams -18.6 The Arizona Cardinals (10-5) dominated the St. Louis Rams (1-14) in a lopsided game at University of Phoenix Stadium. Kurt Warner had 313 yards and two touchdowns and Beanie Wells (68 yards and a score) and Tim Hightower (32 yards and a score) ruled on the ground. Anquan Boldin was Arizona?s leading receiver with eight catches for 116 yards, while Larry Fitzgerald and Early Doucet found the end zone. Keith Null, making his second start, went 20-for-31 with 171 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions. N.Y. Jets 29, Indianapolis 15 Team Trench Counter: Jets +0.8, Colts -0.8 The New York Jets (8-7) handed the Indianapolis Colts (14-1) their first loss of the season as they stood just two weeks from perfection. The Colts pulled some of their starters in the third quarter and the Jets dominated the game?s final 20 minutes. With the win, the Jets can control their playoff destiny by beating the Bengals next week. New York scored the final 19 points of the game. Philadelphia 30, Denver 27 Team Trench Counter: Eagles +11.1, Broncos -11.1 David Akers drilled a 28-yard field goal to give the Philadelphia Eagles (11-4) a win over the Denver Broncos (8-7). The Broncos stormed back in the second half, but the Eagles were able to hold on for their sixth straight win and to remain in the driver?s seat in the NFC East. Philadelphia will travel to Dallas in Week 17 to play for the division title. Donovan McNabb threw for 322 yards, three touchdowns and an interception, while Kyle Orton posted 189 yards, three touchdowns and a pick of his own. Dallas 17, Washington 0 Team Trench Counter: Cowboys +13.1, Redskins -13.1 The Dallas Cowboys (10-5) clinched a playoff berth as they blanked the Washington Redskins (4-11) at FedEx Field. Tony Romo went 25-for-38 with 286 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Jason Witten was Romo?s top target, catching six passes for 117 yards. Jason Campbell had 199 yards and a touchdown as the Dallas defense made numerous timely plays. Shaun Suisham debuted with a 23-yard field goal in the second half for the only points of the second half. *Explaining The Trench Counter
Cowboys Clinch Berth, Eliminate Giants
The Cowboys clinched a playoff berth on Sunday night by beating the Redskins 17-0 at FedEx Field. The victory, which also kept Dallas alive for the NFC East title, eliminated the Giants from playoff contention. The Cowboys will host the Eagles next Sunday with the NFC East title on the line.
Risdon's Picks For Week 16
Last Week: 9-7, pushing the season forecast to 154-70. Game of the Week: Denver at Philadelphia: Both these teams need this game, even though the Eagles have already clinched a playoff berth. Philly is playing for a shot at the #2 seed, not to mention a coveted NFC East title. They're at home, they're getting Brian Westbrook (tangent: if Rich Gannon calls him "Michael" one more time he deserves to be fired) back, and their pass defense has reached its apex. Even though much of the cast has changed, the Broncos have to feel like they've seen this movie before. Last year they were three games up with three to play and blew it, which led to radical changes. Negative momentum is a real demon, and this franchise certainly has it in December. I do think this particular group won't fold up like a cheap card table, but in order to beat a hot Philly team they have to make few mistakes and take advantage of every opportunity. I'm just not sold they can do that on the road against a very strong Eagles team. Philly 26, Denver 21. San Diego at Tennessee: Two hot teams, both with a lot to play for, and that makes this a fantastic game. San Diego can wrap up the #2 seed in the AFC with a win, while the Titans still have some Wild Card aspirations. From a matchup standpoint, I really like how this shapes up for San Diego; their tall receivers and Philip Rivers' great downfield accuracy are quite problematic for a Titans defense that still struggles to stop the pass. I also like the quickness of the Chargers defensive front to keep Chris Johnson in check (as in check as he can be kept) and to keep Vince Young from running wild. But something tells me these Titans will find a way. They are playing with a tightness and confidence that is hard to stop, particularly at home. They have a clutch kicker and an innovative, smart coaching staff that can attack chinks in the Charger armor. Most importantly, they genuinely believe they are a team of destiny, that they can overcome the 0-6 start and still make the playoffs. The way they've been playing, it's hard to argue with that. Tennessee finds a way, 28-26. Jacksonville at New England: The passing attack Jacksonville threw at the Colts gives them a much better chance at winning this one, but it won't be easily replicated. The key will be Maurice Jones-Drew and if he can break off big runs against a Patriots defense that has some vulnerability. That sets up play action, and the Pats will bite at times. The problem for Jacksonville is their lack of pass rush. You beat the Patriots by pressuring Tom Brady, throwing off their timing, and getting Randy Moss wrapped up in his own mind games. The Jaguars have trouble getting pressure even when they blitz. Jacksonville doesn't have the firepower to keep up in a shootout. Much like last week, Jacksonville is game but the opponent is just a little better. New England 33, Jacksonville 27. Baltimore at Pittsburgh: I'll be in Cleveland over the weekend, and my family is pretty much all die-hard Browns fans. That means I'll be watching this game with a group of people hoping for a scoreless tie and a lot of injuries. But more pragmatically, they'll be rooting for Pittsburgh because a Steelers win really damages the Ravens' playoff chances while still not vaulting Pittsburgh into the final spot. It will be cold, it will likely be windy, and it will be an all-out war. I like the matchup of Baltimore's defensive front against Pittsburgh's offensive line as the best advantage in the "tales of the tape," and I think Ed Reed is the kind of safety that can read Big Ben and ruin some of those improvisational masterpieces that are the staple of the Steelers' offense. Pittsburgh should have the ability to pressure Joe Flacco, but sans Polamalu they don't have the same ability to shut down the scramble plays. I also like Ray Rice's inside-out versatility to keep the Steelers D off-balance. With both teams having issues at kicker, that sort of negates the Heinz Field advantage. I like the Ravens to squeak one out, perhaps with a defensive score. Baltimore 21, Pittsburgh 17. NY Jets at Indianapolis: It is critical for the Colts to jump out early, because the Jets defense leads the league in efficiency and thrives on strong starts. A quick start will also keep the Colts focused and enthusiastic about a pointless game...or at least that's the company line. But I think these Colts want a perfect season a lot more than they're letting on, and ripping apart a (ridiculously overhyped) vaunted defense along the way makes it all the better. Indy has a solid defense of their own, and the Jets have trouble scoring against bad ones (see: Atlanta). No way does Peyton Manning let the perfect season go down against a rookie quarterback. No freaking way. Colts 34, Jets 17. Houston at Miami: The way the Texans played last weekend against the hopeless Rams really discouraged me. Yes, they moved the ball well and kept points off the board, but they struggled to score and just didn't look comfortable or confident in what they were doing in clutch situations. That dog don't hunt against a skilled team like the Dolphins. Miami has the combination of pass rush and solid (mostly) coverage that can also keep Houston from scoring. I trust Tony Sparano to find ways to attack the Texans defense in unexpected ways. Sparano has proven to be an innovative and creative play caller and a master of minor tweaks, which often are the difference between an opponent sniffing out what you're doing and having them chasing their own tail. Miami 30, Houston 20. Buffalo at Atlanta: The Bills will start Brian Brohm at quaterback, as both Ryan Fitzpatrick and Trent Edwards are injured. As much as Edwards is ineffective and Fitzpatrick mistake-prone, my spies tell me there will be a major drop-off to Brohm. I hold out some hope; I was higher on Brohm than most when he was drafted in the second round in 2008, but he quickly washed out of Green Bay. I strongly admire what Atlanta has done in spite of all their injuries, and the fact they're still playing every snap like it's the last play of the Super Bowl doesn't bode well for the visitors. Nor does the loss of rookie interception machine Jairus Byrd. Atlanta 30, Buffalo 9. Dallas at Washington: If the two teams that showed up last week meet in this one, Dallas could hang 60 on the hapless Redskins. I don't see that happening, but I do think the Giants beat the stuffing and the pride out of Washington. It won't be easy for them to get that back against a Cowboys team brimming with confidence and playing with purposeful attitude. Dallas finally found the "on" switch for the intensity and swagger, and I believe that because it worked so darn well against the Saints, they're apt to leave it on. They do have serious issues at kicker, where Redskins reject Sean Suisham takes over, but the odds this one comes down to a kick are about the same as Jon & Kate reconciling happily. Cowboys 27, Redskins 10. Oakland at Cleveland: Brady Quinn is out, which makes the return of Charlie Frye as the starting quarterback of the Raiders all the more interesting. As you may recall, Frye beat out Derek Anderson for the starting gig in 2007, only to piss it away before halftime of the opener. Now he returns and faces off against Anderson again. Of course that's probably all for naught, as both teams are run-heavy offensively and run-challenged defensively. Jerome Harrison won't break 200 again, but he could threaten it if the Raiders don't bring their "A" effort. You can never really know which Raiders team you're getting until kickoff, but at least with Frye you know the offense will try. The Browns won last week despite having no ability to throw the ball, no real ability to stop the Chiefs from doing what they wanted, and needed two Josh Cribbs returns for touchdowns to go with Harrison's 280+ yards to win. To boil that down, every single thing they needed to have happen to win happened. That just doesn't happen two weeks in a row to most any team, let alone a 3-11 one in Cleveland with a backup quarterback and a lame-duck coach. Raiders 27, Browns 23. Kansas City at Cincinnati: I worry a little about an emotional letdown after the wrenching loss in San Diego, but I think this is the week where the Bengals honor their fallen comrade, Chris Henry. The home fans will keep the emotional intensity high. Plus the Chiefs can't do anything defensively to slow down Cedric Benson or the brutish Cincy offensive line. This one could get ugly quickly. Cincinnati 40, Kansas City 17. Carolina at New York Giants: This has all the trappings of a low-scoring, hard-hitting, defensive and field position battle with a lot of running. That is certainly Carolina Panthers football, but I get the sense they proved their point last weekend with their pounding of Minnesota. I don't think Matt Moore can do it again, even against the inferior New York secondary. Nor do I think Julius Peppers will dominate like he did in embarrassing Bryant McKinnie. The Giants appear to have their act together after the rout of the Redskins, and as much as I like to criticize Eli Manning, he generally plays quite well in these sorts of games. New York is a low-confidence pick. Giants 24, Panthers 20. Seattle at Green Bay: When these teams met two years ago in the NFC playoffs in the snow, Seattle jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead. The Packers stormed back and put Seattle on ice, and they've never really thawed out. It's going to be cold in Green Bay, both in temperature and in reception for the Seahawks. They cannot run against this Packers defense or keep Matt Hasselbeck upright long enough to let him throw some more interceptions to Charles Woodson, who is acutely aware he needs a couple more signature plays to win a Defensive Player of the Year award, which he wants badly. Packers 31, Seahawks 10. Minnesota at Chicago: There are several intriguing subtexts to this game. How does Favre respond to the growing negativity and challenges to his character? How do his teammates, not to mention Coach Childress, handle his response? How do the Bears handle playing out the string? Do they show heart or do they tank it in an attempt to a.) jump off the sinking Chicago ship, or b.) get their coaches fired? To answer them in order: Favre is impervious to pretty much anything outside his own head, so he'll be fine. His teammates value winning more than they give a crap about in-house politics, so they'll be fine. The Bears come out with heart but quickly revert to plan B. Vikings cruise 33-16. St. Louis at Arizona: The Cardinals got their clunker out of the way last week. Sure, they held on to beat the Lions, but they did everything they could to choke it away. The refs sure helped save their bacon too. I think they got the message that Coach Whisenhunt wanted -- don't overlook anyone, and play 60 minutes hard. Bad news for the Rams, who at least have found some defensive building blocks and just may have found a quarterback in Keith Null. Please don't hold his 18-for-35 with 3 interceptions this weekend against him. Cardinals 33, Rams 14. Detroit at San Francisco: Drew Stanton gets the start for Detroit. While I applaud Coach Jim Schwartz for realizing that Daunte Culpepper clearly isn't the answer and I love Stanton's pluck and fire, I'm not sure he's going to have a good game. Patrick Willis is the best inside linebacker in the game, and the Niners bring just enough heat to give a struggling Detroit offensive line some problems. No secondary receiving threat has stepped forward to take pressure off Calvin Johnson, and even a middling secondary can shut down a one-dimensional attack. Venerable Lions kicker Jason Hanson has been uncharacteristically shaky, which also hurts the upset chances. Lions play hard but fall (a common refrain) 26-20. Tampa Bay at New Orleans: Uhh, pass. Saints 39, Bucs 12.
Cowboys Trying To Find Niche For Felix Jones
Cowboys running back Felix Jones has recorded consecutive games of 10-plus carries for the first time in his career. Dallas coach Wade Phillips says that the team is trying to find a niche role for the second-year rusher. "We're finding a niche, finding where he fits in the best," said Phillips, who added that they are "learning more and more" about when and how often to use Jones. He has 91 carries for 536 yards and two touchdowns this season. In addition, Jones has 12 receptions for 89 yards in 2009.
Dallas Cuts Folk, Signs Suisham
The Cowboys have cut kicker Nick Folk and replaced him with Shaun Suisham. Suisham previously kicked for Dallas in 2005 and 2006. He was released by Washington on Dec. 8 after missing a key kick. "I can't thank the Cowboys enough for giving me an opportunity with them," Suisham told ESPN.com's Matt Mosley. "I'm so happy and excited about it and I feel like I have a lot to offer the organization." Folk leads the NFL with 10 misses, going 18-of-28 and missing seven of his past 11.
NFL Power Rankings For Week 16
The Steelers are one of 12 teams in the AFC to have a .500 or better record, but they will need help to reach the playoffs.
Risdon's $.10 For Week 15
The Cowboys end their December skid and reveal some New Orleans vulnerabilities, the Broncos continue theirs, while Jim Brown's Cleveland records fall and much more.
Cowboys Will Bring In Shaun Suisham To Kick
Free agent kicker Shaun Suisham is scheduled to work out for the Cowboys.
RealGM's Week 15 Rundown
The Colts are two wins from perfection, but the Saints fell to the Cowboys on Saturday night for their first loss of the 2009 season.
Cowboys Beat Saints
The Saints lost their first game of the season on Saturday night.
Man Arrested For Fake Cowboys-Saints Tickets
Authorities have arrested a New York man wanted for selling counterfeit tickets.
DeMarcus Ware Active Against Saints
DeMarcus Ware was active six days after being taken off the field on the stretcher.
Jones Hints That Phillips Must Win To Keep Job
Jerry Jones wants to see victories in the winter.
Risdon's Football Meteorology For Week 15
Drew Brees put their undefeated season on the line against Dallas.
Williams: I'm Not Guaranteeing Victory
Roy Williams says he was trying to hype this Saturday's game between the Cowboys and Saints.
Williams: Cowboys Can Beat Saints
Roy Williams is excited to face the Saints on Saturday night.
Ware Released From Dallas Hospital
DeMarcus Ware was released from the hospital on Sunday evening.
Ware Taken Off Field On Stretcher
DeMarcus Ware gave a thumbs up to the crowd as he was carted off.