Now we're at the Giants' goal line with 1:38 left in the first half. It's second-and-goal, Dallas holds all three timeouts, plenty of time to run the ball. Instead, the Cowboys' coaches call a short square-out. When you're at the goal line, the short square-out is the riskiest play you can call. Defenders are up at the line, so the cornerback is in position to break on the ball and intercept it; and in this situation the pass travels almost entirely sideways, giving the corner time to react. Dallas' coaches should know how risky the short square-out at the goal line is because three weeks ago when the Cowboys were at the Philadelphia goal line in the closing minute, game in the balance, Dallas' coaches called a short square-out that was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. Maybe, just maybe, the Giants watched film of that. So what do Dallas' coaches tell Bledsoe to throw? A short square-out, interception. Just to prove it was no fluke, when the Cowboys reached Jersey/A's 11 late in a game that was still contested, Dallas' coaches again called a short square-out, again intercepted, and this time it was returned for the icing touchdown. Afterward, did Bill "Mr. Personality" Parcells blame himself or his staff? Somehow he didn't get around to that.
Three Dallas notes: First, it's long been clear that Parcells is an egomaniac in both the casual and, perhaps, clinical senses of that word. Lately he's gone downhill to simply becoming a nasty person, spitting and snarling at everyone around him. What's Parcells going to do next, demand worship? When I look at Parcells, the phrase that comes to mind is "failed human being." Second, the deciding play of Monday night's game was a Terrell Owens blunder. Trailing 19-7 midway through the third quarter, Dallas had a fourth-and-2 on the Jersey/A 32. Romo put a perfect short pass into Owens' hands, and he dropped it like it was a live ferret. I wrote "game over" at that juncture. Third, Dallas did run one really sweet play -- a play we rarely see, and I don't understand why. Scoreboard reading 26-13 at the start of the fourth quarter, the Cowboys lined up for a deuce attempt. Everybody split wide, empty backfield; the Giants' defenders frantically spread wide to stop the wacky pass they expected; Romo simply went straight up the middle for two points. When you spread the field at the goal line, often the result is five offensive linemen blocking only five defenders in the box, and the odds for a successful quarterback sneak are excellent.
Not to toot my own horn, but while watching the game at the bar, I made that very comment about the square-out play; I didn't even know there were NFL offensive coordinators stupid enough to still call it within the 10. But I'm sure lots of people who know football did the same thing; anyone who plays Madden knows the square-out inside the 10 is retarded. But here's my question: Where the fuck is this kind of stuff from ESPN's "real" football guys, like Clayton or Pasquerelli? Easterbrook, in the span of two very long paragraphs, made a handful dead-on, incisive comments about the game and the people involved, but I can't remember the last time Clayton said anything incisive outside of, "Sean Salisbury, you are wrong."