NFC East: rapid reaction 12
The Cowboys welcomed Terrell Owens back to the offense in a big way Sunday. In the past couple of days, the wide receiver had sought the services of noted Cowboys apologist Deion Sanders to express how he wasn't being used properly in the offense.
On Sunday, T.O. had the breakout game everyone had been waiting on with 213 yards and a touchdown. San Francisco cornerback Nate Clements has quietly put together a Pro Bowl-type season, but he was burned repeatedly by quarterback Tony Romo and T.O. For reasons we've yet to track down, the 49ers abandoned the defensive blueprint that has worked for other teams over the past two months.
Clements rarely jammed T.O. at the line of scrimmage, allowing him to get the separation he needed downfield. The 49ers dominated the first quarter, but ended up having to settle for fields goals after twice having the ball inside the Cowboys' 5-yard line.
After that, the Cowboys' defense clamped down and made life miserable for 49ers quarterback Shaun Hill. Dallas finished with four sacks, but Hill was under constant duress. The 49ers tacked on a couple of touchdowns late, but the game effectively ended when Cowboys reserve linebacker Carlos Polk broke through and blocked a punt to give the Cowboys a 9-6 lead early in the second quarter. The 49ers never recovered.
After the Cowboys made it 12-6, the 49ers immediately fumbled with 2:52 left in the half. Romo connected with rookie tight end Martellus Bennett on a 1-yard touchdown to put the Cowboys up, 22-6.
T.O. was seen mocking Bennett's ensuing dance moves, and for one afternoon, he seemed completely satisfied with Jason Garrett's offense. The Cowboys (7-4) now prepare for a Thanksgiving Day matchup with the Seahawks. Much, much more to come in my postgame column.