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Monday, December 26, 2005
Cowboys release Cundiff, re-sign Suisham for finale

By Len Pasquarelli
ESPN.com

With a playoff spot potentially on the line, the Dallas Cowboys have changed kickers again, releasing Billy Cundiff on Monday and re-signing Shaun Suisham for the season finale against the St. Louis Rams on New Year's Day.

Billy Cundiff
Cundiff

It marks the second time since training camp that Cundiff has been released and also the second time the Cowboys have signed Suisham in an attempt to rectify lingering woes in their kicking game. Dallas also used journeyman veteran kicker Jose Cortez in eight games this year.

In two games with the Cowboys earlier in the year, Suisham converted both of his field-goal attempts and all seven extra-point tries for 13 points. He was cut on Nov. 19 when the Cowboys brought back Cundiff, who had kicked for Dallas the past three seasons but was released in camp after suffering a quadriceps injury.

Dallas officials felt the signing of Cundiff, who converted 55-of-74 field-goal attempts from 2002 to 2004 and scored more than 90 points in each of the last two years of that stretch, would overcome the lack of consistency in the kicking game. But Cundiff missed 3-of-8 attempts in the six games since his return.

All three misses were on kicks of less than 40 yards. In Saturday's victory at Carolina, he missed a 32-yard attempt before halftime and then a 33-yarder late in the fourth quarter. The second miss was negated when officials, on a controversial call that gave the Cowboys new life, flagged Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers for running into Cundiff.

The three kickers used by the Cowboys this season have converted 19-of-26 field goals. All of them have been inconsistent on kickoffs. In the two previous games, Suisham averaged 62.1 yards on kickoffs.

The Cowboys also re-signed veteran safety Tony Dixon as a precautionary measure in the event starter Roy Williams is sidelined by the sprained left ankle he suffered against the Panthers.

Dallas needs a victory over the Rams and either a Washington or Carolina loss Sunday to gain a wild-card playoff berth.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.