- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 14, 2008

STORY OF THE WEEK

COWBOYS LOSE GAME, QB

The situation looked all too familiar entering overtime Sunday. The Dallas Cowboys rallied from 10 points down in the final two minutes of regulation and then got the ball first in overtime. Another typical Arizona Cardinals loss was developing.

But Sean Morey’s blocked punt was recovered for the winning touchdown — the first time that has happened in overtime — and the Cardinals won 30-24.

And then things really got bad for reeling Dallas.



Quarterback Tony Romo sustained a fractured pinkie on his throwing hand and could miss up to four weeks. The Cowboys play three games before their bye week. Romo could return for the rematch with the Redskins on Nov. 16.

Since starting 3-0, the Cowboys have lost to Washington, struggled against Cincinnati and lost to Arizona.

The Cowboys can’t stop the pass (17th), are banged up in the secondary, can’t return punts (31st), aren’t getting Marion Barber enough rushes (110 in six games), aren’t using Felix Jones enough (32 touches this year) and are dealing with a peeved Terrell Owens and a feisty Adam Jones.

Despite the drama, maybe the preseason NFC East favorites just aren’t as good as anyone thought.

TEAM OF THE WEEK

ATLANTA FALCONS

The Falcons — with a rookie quarterback (Matt Ryan) and coach (Mike Smith) — matched their 2007 win total in thrilling fashion Sunday.

Down 20-19 with six seconds remaining after Chicago stupidly squib-kicked, Atlanta was at its own 44 and Ryan knew he needed at least 25 yards to get into Jason Elam’s field goal range. Ryan threw 26 yards to Michael Jenkins.

On the next play, Jason Elam kicked a 48-yard field goal as time elapsed for a 22-20 win. Atlanta is 4-2, and Ryan, who started from Day 1, has proved to be a reliable quarterback, posting an 82.3 passer rating and only three interceptions in 161 pass attempts.

FIVE THINGS LEARNED IN WEEK 6

1. The Patriots are in trouble. New England (3-2) looked lifeless and noncompetitive in a 30-10 loss at San Diego Sunday night. The league is seeing first hand just how valuable Tom Brady is to the Patriots. Although the schedule is favorable, it’s questionable the Patriots can do enough to make the playoffs.

2. The NFC North is beyond awful. Chicago, Minnesota and Green Bay are 3-3 … and tied for first place. No team since the divisional format started in 1933 has won a division title with a .500 record or worse. Thankfully for the three teams, they each play Detroit (0-5) one more time.

3. Clinton Portis is playing his best football since he arrived in the District. He has carried at least 21 times for at least 121 yards in the last three games. He’s also bursting through holes quicker than in 2004-07 for big gains. For the year, he leads the NFL in carries (136), yards (643) and is tied in touchdowns (six).

4. Arizona is the NFC West favorite. Home wins over previously undefeated Buffalo and previously one-loss Dallas have put the Cardinals at 4-2 and in the division lead for the first time this late in the season since 1988. The Seahawks, 49ers and Rams can’t match the Cardinals’ talent.

5. Don’t sleep on the Colts. Peyton Manning, a day before it was revealed he underwent two left knee surgeries (not one) during the offseason, was 19-for-28 for 271 yards and three touchdowns in a rout of Baltimore. The Colts (3-2) are two games behind Tennessee (5-0) but have both meetings left.

NEXT MAN UP

List of big injuries from Week 6:

QB Tony Romo, Dallas (broken finger): The Cowboys lost at Arizona on Sunday and lost Romo for four weeks on Monday. Brad Johnson, 40, takes over.

RB Joseph Addai, Indianapolis (hamstring): He and backup Mike Hart were injured against Baltimore. Dominic Rhodes was the replacement.

WR Eddie Royal, Denver (ankle): The rookie sensation was inactive against Jacksonville.

QB Carson Palmer, Cincinnati (elbow): He missed Sunday’s loss against the Jets and will be out another week with a sore elbow. Ryan Fitzpatrick will start against the Steelers.

P Mat McBriar, Dallas (leg): Injured on the final play against Arizona, the Cowboys may be joining the Redskins in the market for a punter.

CB Charles Tillman, Chicago (shoulder): Injured in first half at Atlanta, he joined fellow starter Nathan Vasher on the sideline.

NUMBERS GAME

1998 Was the last year New England lost two games in a season by at least 20 points. In their first five games, the Patriots have lost by 25 to Miami and 20 to San Diego.

HOT SEAT

Whose performance Sunday puts them in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons next week:

WADE PHILLIPS

The Cowboys coach, whose team was expected to dominate the NFC, is instead 4-2 after an overtime loss to Arizona. Now Phillips gets a chance to rally his team around backup quarterback Brad Johnson.

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