- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 25, 2008

They have battled wearing five uniforms between them. They shared the spotlight in an infamous “Monday Night Football” incident. They have trained together during offseasons.

And on Sunday, Dallas receiver Terrell Owens and Washington cornerback Shawn Springs will go at it for a 10th time when the Cowboys host the Redskins for the final time at Texas Stadium.

“I have a track meet Sunday,” Springs said. “I can’t wait to see it. Me and Terrell ‘Usain Bolt’ Owens. I’m excited for it. He better be ready.”

Owens was ready in November at Dallas when he torched the Redskins’ secondary for a team-record four receiving touchdowns and 173 yards on eight catches in a 28-23 Cowboys win.

“This is one of the greatest games that I feel like I’ve played in, just me coming through in the clutch,” Owens said afterward. “When my number’s called and opportunities are there for us to make plays, I know that’s my job.”

Springs has gotten the job done against Owens as well as anyone. Owens, who rested in the 2007 rematch because Dallas had home-field advantage clinched, had seven catches for 76 yards and a touchdown in their 2006 matchup (Springs was sidelined for the first game) and eight catches for 70 yards and a score in their two meetings when he played for Philadelphia in 2004.

Although he yields three inches and 11 pounds to the six-time All-Pro, Springs prefers covering big, strong receivers rather than smaller, quicker wideouts.

“I like going against guys like [Arizona’s Anquan] Boldin and Owens versus a guy like [teammate] Santana [Moss] because you know what you’re getting,” Springs said. “Those little quick guys, they stop on a dime. I’m like, ‘I don’t have time for all this. C’mon here and try to push me around and let’s get at it.’ When you play T.O., you know where you stand.”

Owens feels the same way about matchups with elite corners.

“Challenge is what he likes,” Dallas coach Wade Phillips said. “He likes the competition. That’s why he’s been a great player. He competes.”

They dueled four times when Owens played for San Francisco and Springs for Seattle. Owens had 11 catches for 118 yards and no touchdowns in three of those games combined, but he caught six passes for 84 yards and two scores on “Monday Night Football” in 2002. After the second touchdown, which decided the 49ers’ 28-21 victory, Owens took a Sharpie from his sock and signed the football before tossing it to financial adviser Greg Eastman in the stands.

“That didn’t bother me,” Springs said. “I was talking so much trash to him [before the touchdown].”

That’s still going on even though Springs is 33 and Owens turns 35 in December.

“I’m going to call him and tell him I’m going to be coming down there smokin’,” Springs said.

After Owens orchestrated his trade from San Francisco to Philadelphia in 2004 in order to play with quarterback Donovan McNabb, the two of them spent the offseason working out with Springs in Arizona. In addition to the Sharpie incident, Owens has courted controversy by posing on Texas Stadium’s midfield star when he played for San Franscisco in 2000, questioning quarterback Jeff Garcia’s sexuality and forcing the 49ers to trade him and the Eagles to release him.

“A lot of times, we judge people based on what we may see or hear,” Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo said. “If we like somebody and they’re not very good, we’ll still give them a little bit of leeway. If we don’t like somebody, they better be darn good because we’re waiting for anything to nitpick and take them off their pedestal.”

Owens has averaged a touchdown a game since Romo became the starter midway through 2006 and now ranks second all time in touchdown catches, eighth in receiving yards and eighth in catches.

“T.O. doesn’t get enough credit for his football knowledge,” Springs said. “Like last year when I jumped the slant on [Terry] Glenn. T.O. would know I knew it was going to be slant, so he’d take it straight and then try to break it in. People see him as T.O. the arrogant guy, but he’s a pretty smart guy. He knows football, and he works really hard.”

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