Cowboys limp into playoffs


Published: Monday, January 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 1, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

IRVING, Texas — No, losing to the Detroit Lions does not revoke the playoff spot the Dallas Cowboys had already clinched.

It just means they're in a mess of trouble heading into what Bill Parcells likes to call "the tournament."

Done in by repeated mistakes from Tony Romo and a few more by Terence Newman, the Cowboys blew their chance to stay alive in the NFC East race and build some much-needed momentum for the playoffs with a 39-31 loss to the lowly Lions on Sunday.

"I can't tell you how disappointed I am. I really can't," Parcells said, his tone more deflated than irate. "This is the low point for me in a long time."

Detroit would've been better off losing this game and locking up the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.

But even the Lions (3-13) couldn't refuse all the gifts the Cowboys gave them, from a penalty on Newman wiping out an interception return for a touchdown on the game's first snap to Romo failing to scramble into the end zone from the 6-yard line on the final play that mattered.

In between, Romo threw an interception and lost two fumbles, Newman muffed a punt and there were plenty more mental errors by their teammates.

"Too many things that beat you, we did today," Parcells said.

It could get worse Saturday night when the Cowboys (9-7) play a first-round game at Seattle.

Dallas goes into the playoffs on its first two-game losing streak of the season and having dropped three of four. There are plenty of reasons for it, from Romo looking more like a career backup than a Pro Bowler, to the defense being at its worst.

The Cowboys have allowed 132 points the last four games, the exact amount they gave up the previous eight games. Realizing a change may be needed, Dallas tested out a lot of different formations and player combinations; they'll have to go back to the drawing board considering Detroit scored its most points in 63 games, since the 2003 opener.

"We are definitely going in backwards from the way we wanted to," said Romo, who was 23-of-32 for 321 yards with two touchdowns. "We may not scare anyone right now. We win a game or two and that will change."

Detroit's Jon Kitna was 28-of-42 for 306 yards and four touchdowns with one interception.

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