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Weekly Game Balls: Week 9

Riding high on a four game winning streak feels pretty good, doesn’t it! What a great game last Sunday night, it was a perfect example of a team coming together for a victory against an intense rivalry. The teamwork executed by the Cowboys made it even harder to choose game balls this week. Of course, that’s a great problem to have. In the words of Coach Phillips, “Everybody made plays when the game was on the line.”

This week’s offensive game ball goes to Marion Barber.

Marion Barber only rushed 12 times for 50 yards, but the true reason he is receiving this week’s game ball is for what he did in the last offensive drive of the game.

According to a story told by Keith Brooking, Barber came up to the defensive players on the sidelines and said:

‘I got this, the last offensive series. Don’t you worry guys.’

He was telling his teammates that he was going to seal the deal. He knew they had worked hard and he was guaranteeing them their work was done and the win was secure.

Barber did as promised and ran three consecutive plays accumulating 23 yards.

Now that may not do anything for his fantasy ratings but in my book that makes him clutch.

Thanks for your hard work Barber!

Star50

This week’s defensive/special teams game ball goes to Jay Ratliff.

Can you say BEAST?

Jay Ratliff finished the day with 5 tackles and 2 sacks for losses of 17 yards.

I also enjoyed the story about him getting into it with Wade Phillips.

Wade Phillips told reporters a story from halftime…

“At halftime, we came in and he says, ‘My fault on the running game,’” Phillips recalled about Ratliff. “And I said, ‘No it isn’t your fault.’ He jumps back at me and said ‘ITS MY FAULT’ I said, ‘Ok it’s your fault.’ But he said he would get it corrected. And sure enough they had 16 yards rushing in the second half, so it wasn’t all his fault, he played some things different second half than he did in first half.”

Keep howling J-Rat!

Star50

Way to go to Barber and Ratliff!

Honorable Mention: Roy Williams with 5 catches and 75 yards, Gerald Sensabaugh with 6 tackles and an interception, and Mike Jenkins for just being awesome and making me shout ‘JENKS’ several times each game after he makes an amazing play.

It Was More Than A Win, It Was A Defining Moment

I felt every emotion that you could possibly feel during Sunday’s win over the Chiefs. I went from being embarrassed by all the penalties and disappointed by the bad plays, to being thrilled by Choice setting the pace for the offense that culminated in the exhilarating feeling of seeing Miles Austin make the game ending catch and sprint into the end zone.

Austin made me so proud and I’m so happy that we have such an emerging presence in the receiving corps. It looks like the Cowboys will be rewarded for sticking with him.

I saw some raw emotion from every player that played in the game. The team seemed to come together and believe in each other.

There was no finger pointing afterward, just a feeling of relief and accomplishment. At least for that day, they were a team in every sense of the word. A team that wanted the win and where determined to get it.

Players stepped up on special teams and on defense as well. Many of our players stepped up for the players that were struggling. One example being how Tashard Choice upped his performance while his teammate Marion Barber struggled. It seemed to set the tone for the rest of the game as many silent heroes followed his lead and shone brightly and stole the spotlight from the stars. Keith Brooking was a dominating presence on defense.

It’s wasn’t a well played game by any stretch of the imagination. We were expected to romp over a poor Chiefs team and instead it turned into a street brawl. We did everything you can do to give the game away. There were missed extra points, dropped touchdown passes, penalties on both sides of the ball, fumbles, etc. But somehow, the Cowboys dug down deep inside and they kept battling and struggling until finally being rewarded for their intense perseverance and boundless determination. It was something to behold and it’s been a while since we saw that kind of grit and heart on the gridiron.

The sheer exuberance of the moment came at the end when the team rushed to the end zone to celebrate and relish the moment with an exalted Miles Austin whose touchdown lifted the team’s spirit to an ultimate high. It really choked me up. It was the moment I had long been waiting for this season from this team.

In the last few years, the Cowboys have always started off strong only to fizzle away as the season drew to an end.

Maybe this year it will be different.

Maybe this year the Cowboys will only get stronger as the season wears on.

Maybe this year… the Cowboys will have saved their best for last.

No Frequent Flyer Miles For Jones and Williams

When the plane took off for Kansas City this afternoon, the Cowboys left running back Felix Jones and wide receiver Roy Williams behind in Dallas.

That means that the Cowboys will be shorthanded for its game at Kansas City on Sunday. The information was leaked by Kansas City Chiefs’ PR man Josh Looney.

Williams’ loss won’t help a receiving game that has sputtered and been ineffective at times this season.

This should mean more playing time for Miles Austin who will replace Williams in the Dallas starting lineup.

Tashard Choice and Marion Barber will continue to share the load at running back.

Barber Decision: All or Nothing

Despite the recent build-up that Marion Barber may sit out this week after injuring his quad, the team still has not made a decision if he will play or not. However, Wade Phillips announced if Barber is active he will take his full workload. The decision will come 90 minutes before kickoff tomorrow. He is listed officially as questionable.

“His game is power,” Phillips said. “If he’s not as powerful, that could be a factor. It’s so subjective.”

The Cowboys starting running back pulled up lame while speeding toward the goal line in last week’s loss to the Giants. Barber returned to practice Wednesday and told reporters,

“If I’m good today, I’m going to be good tomorrow and then I’m going to be good up until Monday.”

The Cowboys would not want Barber to injure himself further, therefore they are prepared to give the load to Tashard Choice and Felix Jones if they decide to rest MB3.

Adams Fined, Barber Fine

For the second week in a row a Cowboy has been fined by the league for a penalty. Turns out that Cowboy is Flozell Adams. Surely you remember the tripping penalty, well Adams was fined $12,500 for sticking his foot out and tripping Justin Tuck in the second quarter, and also Osi Umenyiora in the fourth quarter. Tuck criticized Adams for the move that placed him on the sidelines.

Last week Adams was fined $5,000 for a hands to the face penalty. He plans to appeal the fine.

Hey, we wanted him to stop the false start penalties but not if it means he is going to get even bigger infractions.

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Marion BarberMarion Barber practiced on Wednesday after an apparent injury to his quad during last Sunday’s game. Several media outlets believed Barber could miss the game Monday night but according to Barber,

“I’m good . . . I’m good today. If I’m good today, I’ll be good tomorrow and I’ll be good for Monday.”

“Just like a bad cramp. I’ve felt it before. It’s happened to me before. It’s sore. It felt real similar. But I’m treating it like I should. I’m feeling good.”

The Cowboys have an extra day since they are playing Monday and are not required to put out an injury update today. Luckily the Cowboys are deep at the running back position and Barber can share the load with Felix Jones and Tashard Choice.

The Cowboys posted this on their website,

RB Marion Barber – quad (9/20) – After his 35-yard run in the fourth quarter, Barber came up holding his left quad. He never returned to action Sunday night, and MRI results on Monday revealed a strained quad. Barber was dressed out Wednesday and took part in light individual drills during the brief media portion of practice. But because they don’t play until Monday, the Cowboys aren’t required to release an official injury report until Thursday, and head coach Wade Phillips was tight-lipped about Barber’s status. The starting back said he plans to play against Carolina, however. If not, or if he’s limited, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice will fill in.

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Weekly Game Balls: Week 2

With the nickname of Earth, Wind, and Fire comes 2 players on this week’s game balls.

This week’s offensive game ball goes to Marion Barber.

With the nickname of Earth, Wind, and Fire comes 2 players on this weeks game balls. The weeks offensive game ball goes out to Marion Barber. He is the “Earth” in the three headed monster of running backs by committee. MB3 ran for 124 yards on 18 carries with 1 touchdown. He definitely earned his name as Barbarian. Marion showed quickness and toughness in him we haven’t seen in a while. He would of had another score if it wasn’t for his quad tightening up. He looked just as good as any running back that played on Sunday. Barber also had 31 yards on 2 catches when Tony was not at his best
This weeks defensive/special teams game ball goes to Felix Jones.The wind of the group. Even though Felix had a fumble that the Giants capitalized on. He had 134 yards on 6 run backs. His longest run was of 38 yards. Felix showed the speed the cowboys need out of the backfield, and also had 96 yards on 7 carries. If it wasn’t for 4 yards, the Cowboys could have 2 running backs with 100 yards each.Despite the fumble Felix helped the Cowboys almost pull off the win. He scored the go ahead touchdown to put the Cowboys up 31 to30.

He is the “Earth” in the three-headed monster of running backs by committee. MB3 ran for 124 yards on 18 carries with 1 touchdown. He definitely earned his nickname as Barbarian.

Marion showed quickness and toughness in him we haven’t seen in a while. He would of had another score if it wasn’t for his quad tightening up.

He looked just as good as any running back that played on Sunday. Barber also had 31 yards on 2 catches.

Star50

This week’s defensive/special teams game ball goes to Felix Jones.

Felix is the “Wind” of the group. Even though Felix had a fumble that the Giants capitalized on, he also had 134 yards on 6 kick returns for a 22 yard average. His longest return being 38 yards.

Felix showed the speed the Cowboys need out of the backfield.

In addition, on offense Jones had and impressive 96 yards on just 7 carries. Wow!

The Cowboys nearly had 2 running backs with 100 yards each. Despite the fumble, Felix helped the Cowboys almost pull off the win. He scored the go ahead touchdown to put the Cowboys up 31 to 30.

Star50

Congratulations to Marion and Felix for their outstanding play.

Runners-up: Jay Ratliff, Jason Witten

Bucs Walk The Plank As Cowboys Sail To 34-21 Win

Cowboys Buccaneers FootballQuarterback Tony Romo threw three touchdown passes to lead the Dallas Cowboys to a 34-21 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday to open the season with a convincing win.

The offense was clicking on all cylinders as Romo did a fantastic job of spreading the ball around and taking advantage of some huge blown coverages by the Buc’s secondary. And for those of you who were worried about the loss of Terrell Owens, you can all breathe easy as Roy Williams, Patrick Crayton and Austin Miles each hauled in a touchdown in the game.

Romo completed 16-of-27 passes for 353 yards, a career high, and tossed three touchdown passes. It was the most yards he has ever thrown in his career. His first strike was to Miles Austin, a 42-yard touchdown catch in the final minute of the first half to put Dallas up 13-7 at halftime. It was a picture perfect catch and run for Miles. 

Romo threw his second touchdown pass, a 66-yard strike to Roy Williams, to give the Cowboys a 20-7 in the third quarter, and then found wide receiver Patrick Crayton with an 80-yard strike. Crayton had a huge day ringing up four catches for 135 yards. Tight end Jason Witten also had a fine day with five catches for 71 yards vs. the Bucs.

The Cowboys also were solid on the ground and racked up 118 yards led by Marion Barber who had 79 yards and a six-yard touchdown run.

Nick Folk had a busy day and got us on the board with two field goals in the first quarter, giving the Cowboys a 6-0 lead to get things started. Folk nailed a booming 51-yard field goal, and then followed it up with a 22-yard chip shot.

Defensively, they played cohesively and got the job done in the last three quarters after allowing the Bucs’ Cadillac Williams to run wild in the first quarter. There were a couple injury scares when both DeMarcus Ware and Gerald Sensabaugh got the worst of two tackles, but Ware came back in the game in the next series and Sensabaugh said he’s fine and suffered a sore rib. Sensabaugh had a key moment in the game when he blocked a Buccaneers field goal.

Matt McBriar was looking good, and the Cowboys had no turnovers in the game. They even held the penalties to just 4 for 41 yards.

All in all, it was a great victory so let’s enjoy it!

Go Cowboys!

Breaking Camp And Ready For Some Football

The Boys have left the Alamodome and are now preparing for some football in their new home. The consensus among the players is that this years camp was much tougher, and more focused than years passed, especially after last years circus.

Gone are the likes of Terrell Owens, and Adam “Pacman” Jones who always brought their own distractions wherever they went. And lets not forget about Jessica Simpson … or actually maybe we should. With her around it was clear to every fan that Romo’s head was never truly in the game. Hopefully this year he has his priorities straight, and his focus on the Lombardi Trophy. Oh yea and I almost forgot that other distraction that followed the entire team around last year, the HBO show “Hard Knocks”. It was fun to watch as a fan but if you think what it must of been like for the players being followed around all the time and every detail filmed. “It was a drama-free three weeks in San Antonio” reports KTBB.com, which is what we like to hear.

“This camp has been like two of the other camps put together. I haven’t heard anyone call this one cupcake,” linebacker Bradie James said.

Coach Wade Phillips wanted to push the team a bit more this camp, making sure they stay focused and to help them get stronger as a team.

“I am trying to do what helps this team. It’s a long season and the mental toughness is part of it,” Phillips said. “I say the mental part of it. When you get tired, that’s when the mental process comes in. I thought it was good for our guys. I think they have come through it well.

Phillips will have even more on his plate this season as he is also the teams defensive coordinator.

With camp ended the Cowboys stayed fairly healthy. They will be without Fullback Deon Anderson for some time after he had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee last week. But both corners Mike Jenkins and Terence Newman who have been a little banged up returned to practice and are set to go. Roy Williams wrist is improving and barring any set backs he should be fine as well.

Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett will have a three headed monster in Marion Barber, Felix Jones, and Tashard Choice to get the ball to. The idea is that Barber with use his brute strength to soften and beat down the defense, then have Felix use his speed to fly by and around them. Choice will get a few carries a game as well to give Barber and Jones a break. Garrett is looking to get the ball to Felix 12-15 times a game and doesn’t care if its by air in the passing attack or handing it to the speedster.

With so many weapons, and as long as everyone can stay healthy, the tougher camp and the time spent together could push the Cowboys back into the elusive playoffs, then watch out!!

FORWARD PROGRESS: Street Fights and Sensabaugh

Forward Progress

One more week…..one more week until we get a small taste of Cowboys football. A week from tonight I will be retreating to a quiet, fortified place, setting the phone to silent and cranking the volume up to 11 and watching the Cowboys and the Raiders. I am not expecting to see too much or many plays from any of the regulars, but I don’t care. It’s still the blue stars on the silver helmet and I want a win! More on that next week……

I was listening to some training camp coverage on the radio this morning as I was driving into work and they were discussing the small training camp fight that broke out between Marc Columbo and Jay Ratliff. It’s not a big deal at all, these things happen all the time, but what had my interest is the question that was posed: Who would be the one Cowboy you would want with you if you got jumped by 5 guys in a dark alley? I mean, many of them could do plenty of damage, but here is my top 5:

1. Marc Columbo – Just big and mean and has the fighter’s mentality.
2. Leonard Davis – Just BIG and BIG.
3. Jay Ratliff – He has the quickness and the toughness.
4. Marion Barber – He will fight to the death.
5. Gerald Sensabaugh – He will probably be packing an AK-47, so that helps!

Okay, sorry Gerald. That was a low-blow. Speaking of Mr. Sensabaugh, I wanted to do a little research on the new projected starter at safety and I was surprised to find many good to above average stats, combine performances and on-field accomplishments, even dating back to his college days at East Tennessee St and North Carolina. He transferred to UNC his senior year only because East Tennessee disbanded it’s football program.

In his only season playing Division 1-A football, he had 4 interceptions and returned three of them for touchdowns and also tied an NCAA single-game record by blocking 3 punts in a game. After his senior year, he was invited to the NFL combine where he recorded a 46 inch vertical jump, the highest for any NFL player on record. He was a 5th round pick and then started every game his rookie year and over the last 2 seasons he started around 70 percent of the Jaguars’ games, recording 4 interceptions just last year and also played a large role on special teams.

However, he was allowed to walk and become a free agent and was also signed to a one year deal for very little money. With his performance and youth, It really makes me wonder what the behind the scenes chatter on this guy is and why he wasn’t more sought after. He is not a celebrity bad boy NFL player like Vick or Plaxico, but he has had his share of run-in’s with the law. I read in the Fort-Worth Star Telegram that he has been participating in the one-on-one secondary drills normally reserved for the corners and nickelbacks and has been holding his own against the receivers. It was also noted that former safety Roy Williams would never participate in these drills. I know that Roy played strong safety his last few years, but still. I really think Sensabaugh can improve this defense and I hope that he can keep his head straight and earn a nice, long term deal that a dominant season will earn him.

We are starting to see big contract extensions around the league for established players, as this is the time when teams can sit down and negotiate and arrange all of the salary cap issues and the pro-rating of money as it is a new contract year. Eli Manning just became the highest paid quarterback in the NFL yesterday. I don’t understand that move, but that is another story all together. The main thing I am concerned about is DeMarcus Ware sitting back and watching these extensions to Manning and James Harrison and wondering when his is coming. Ware is too much of a stand up person to go to the media and whine, but isn’t that just one more reason to give him his deal? I can’t make this clear enough: Jerry, show D-WARE the money!

Anyways, things are still sort of slow as we creep towards the season, and that is a good thing really. Big news out of training camp is usually only bad news, so we should just sit back and relax and look forward to our first pre-season game, a week from tonight. Oh, and just a reminder, don’t call me during the game, I won’t answer.

Cowboys Fan For Life – TD

Barber Says, Hit Me Baby One More Time

Earlier in the week I blogged about Wade Phillips’ approach to this years training camp, which has been dubbed “Camp Marshmallow”.

After starting training camp with his “no contact” edict, the Cowboys finally were allowed to suit up and wear pads, but were cautioned about putting a hit on another teammate.

Marion Barber has seen enough of this toned down version of touch football, and he gave Phillips an earful.

“Don’t tell those guys not to hit me,” Barber told his head coach, “because I’m going to hit them.”

And that’s exactly what he did.

By all accounts, Barber is looking great and some say he is in the best shape of his life. He was asked to show up to camp at 222 pounds this year, and came in at 218 which is eight pounds less than last year.

“He looks strong,” Phillips said of Barber. “He looks quick. And his attitude is like it’s always been.”

Barber may be a little bit more motivated than he was last season, and I think I know the reason why. Two words… Felix Jones.

Surely, Barber has read all the stories this off season that have suggested a reduced role for Marion, sort of like the one he had when Julius Jones was a Cowboy.

Marion BarberMany believe that Barber looked slower last year and had lost some of the explosiveness that he had exhibited when he was the teams closer and goal line back. 

Barber had just three 100 yard rushing games all of last season. After averaging 4.7 yards per carry in 2006 and 2007, Barber dropped to 3.7 YPC last season. After fumbling the football just once in the previous two years combined, Barber lost three fumbles last season. After double digits in touchdowns for two straight seasons, he finished last season with just seven rushing TD’s.

2008 was supposed to be his breakthrough season as the Cowboys featured starter at running back, but instead it turned out to be a breakdown season for him.

Felix Jones on the other hand, showed an explosiveness and agility that hadn’t been seen in a long time. An injury cut short his season, but that glimpse he showed us was enough to start making many wonder if Jones should be the starting running back instead of Barber.

Don’t think for one second, that Marion Barber wasn’t watching and wondering too.

It’s going to be interesting to see how training camp unfolds this season. One this is certain though, expect to see Marion Barber look a thousand times better than last year’s version. Will it be enough to keep the hard charging Felix Jones at bay?

Only time will tell.

And It’s Deep Too

As training camp begins, Jason Garrett has something to prove as the OC. T.O. is no longer there so, there are no excuses. Now the plays should be more focused on winning then feeding someone’s ego. But this isn’t about that old news. This is about what he has in the backfield. They may not be the famed Smash and Dash in Carolina or Tennessee, but it should be feared.

The Dallas backfield is the strongest it has been in years. Marion Barber as we all know is a wrecking ball. The great thing about him is that he isn’t that big and he has that ability to break tackle and the power to run over defenders. This year should be interesting  to see how he was injured and wasn’t 100% when he came back. It goes unsaid, he has something to prove.

Felix Jones, God I love this dude. My friend thinks he’s Emmitt 2.0. The speed of Felix is something to reckon with. Like Marion, he has something to prove after being injured for the season last year. It will be interest to see if he’s used in the passing game as well.

Tashard Choice was an unexpected surprise for us last year. He ran over and around the Steelers and Giants defense with no problem, the boy is awesome. But let’s be honest, if it wasn’t for Barber and Jones getting hurt, what were the chances of us seeing him on the field like we did last year? With that said, are we going see him in action this year? In a few plays I’m sure, but will he be used in the offense or special teams? This has to be on Garrett’s mind. He has three running backs that can be used in almost anyway.

The other two backs are Keon Lattimore and Alonzo Coleman. Going off what we seen last year in the pre-season, it’s a shame these won’t get a lot of snaps, if any snaps. The backfield is deep, very deep and it should be a nightmare for any defense to deal with.

Let’s Go Cowboys!

MB3 Makes A Dream Come True

Michael Norris/Amarillo Globe-News

Michael Norris/Amarillo Globe-News

ESPN’s Sportcenter will feature it’s “My Wish” series July 5-9. Five children have been granted a wish to spend time with their favorite athlete. First up will be our very own Marion Barber. You can watch the segment Sunday, July 5th at 9 a.m. central time.

Ian Gregory from Canyon, Texas was just ecstatic to get the chance to meet his favorite player, Marion Barber. The six-year old Cowboys fan was diagnosed with T-Cell lymphoma on January 6th after passing out at daycare a day before.

ESPN took Ian by surprise when employees took him to play mini golf and gave him a DVD. The DVD featured Jason Witten asking Ian to come to Dallas for football practice.

Ian and his father and sister traveled to Dallas for the honor to watch the Cowboys practice. Ian got to watch practice and even participate in drills with Marion Barber. He also got to tour Jerry Jones’ office, touch a Super Bowl trophy and have lunch with the cheerleaders.

The experience really was a dream come true for little Ian. His favorite part was spending time with his favorite player Marion Barber but he will never forget June 17th, the day he got to spend with the Dallas Cowboys.

Watch part of Ian’s experience on Sunday on ESPN’s Sportscenter at 9am CST.

About My Wish

For the fourth straight year, ESPN will present its critically acclaimed SportsCenter’s “My Wish” series, which chronicles sports-themed wishes granted to children with life-threatening medical conditions. Stephanie Druley, senior coordinating producer, ESPN, and David Williams, Make-A-Wish Foundation of America president and chief executive officer, announced today that the series will air Sunday, July 5, through Thursday, July 9.

The series, presented by ESPN, is sponsored by The Walt Disney Company. As part of the series, ESPN will help grant sports-related wishes with leading sports figures to five children referred through the world’s largest wish-granting charity, Make-A-Wish Foundation. Each wish will be the subject of one SportsCenter feature segment.