Question on the 49ers: Can they get Terrell Owens enough receptions in the playoffs to ride him to the Super Bowl?
That question will be answered by his counterpart. Either Tai Streets or J.J. Stokes must step up to keep defenses from consistently double-teaming Owens. If they can excel in the playoffs, and thus take some of the defense's attention from Owens, the Niners could go far.
Question on the Cowboys: What's your assessment of Chad Hutchinson in the past month?
He's played up-and-down. His lack of mobility prevents him from making some plays and makes it easier for opponents to game-plan for him. Defenses can rush four and not be concerned with him straying far from the pocket. But he has shown some potential. Still, it's probably a toss-up between Hutchinson and Quincy Carter. The Cowboys just need to decide what type of QB they want.
Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.
The San Francisco 49ers' star not only caught two touchdown
passes in the fourth quarter -- including the game-winner with 12
seconds left -- he rubbed it in with his words and his wardrobe
after a 31-27 victory Sunday that clinched the NFC West title.
Although Jeff Garcia led San Francisco (9-4) back from a
10-point fourth-quarter deficit and guided the final scoring drive
without having any timeouts, Owens stole the scene by getting wide
open in the back of the end zone and catching an 8-yard pass with
12 seconds left.
"The play worked to perfection,'' said Garcia, who went
36-of-55 for 276 yards with no interceptions and three TDs, all in
the fourth quarter. Garcia also led his team in rushing with 50
yards, including a 21-yard TD run.
Cowboys defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer wasn't surprised the
49ers went to Owens with the game on the line. But he was upset his
players weren't as aware.
"My 10-year-old daughter knew it was going to 81,'' Zimmer
Two years after punctuating a pair of touchdowns with
celebrations at the Cowboys' midfield logo, Owens showed up at
Texas Stadium wearing a leather jacket, leather pants and shoes all
colored Cowboys blue.
Why? "Because I knew all eyes were going to be on me,'' he
Owens relished living up to his expectations.
"It's kind of like Michael Jordan taking the last shot at the end of the game," he said.
The outcome left Cowboys owner Jerry Jones fuming. According to the Dallas Morning News, a visibly angry Jones stormed out of the locker room without answering reporters' questions.
"That was a stupid (expletive) ballgame," the newspaper quoted Jones as saying. "The players played well enough to win. We (expletive) it up." Then he turned and stalked off.
While the 49ers went from a possible third loss in four games to
winning their first division title in five years, the Cowboys (5-8)
lost their shot at their first three-game winning streak since they
started the 1999 season 3-0.
It was Dallas' seventh loss when tied or leading in the fourth
"We'll deal with it the same way we have all year: We'll go
back to the drawing board,'' said Emmitt Smith, who had 66 yards on
19 carries, including the 4,000th of his career. He also scored two
TDs, his first multiple touchdown game since November 1999.
San Francisco lost running back Garrison Hearst to a
hyperextended left knee in the second quarter. Hearst watched the
rest of the game from the bench, but coach Steve Mariucci said
he'll be listed as probable for next week's home game against Green
The 49ers came in knowing they could win the division if St.
Louis lost; the Rams were beaten 49-10 loss in Kansas City.
Yet San Francisco couldn't pull away, missing two field goals,
fumbling a kickoff and getting a punt blocked. Those gaffes led to
Dallas' first 13 points.
Things got interesting when Owens made a juggling catch for a
3-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth, putting the 49ers up
Woodrow Dantzler put Dallas back ahead when he returned the
ensuing kickoff 84 yards for a touchdown, making an amazing
sideline dance to stay in bounds. Smith then scored to make it
27-17 with 6:56 to go.
Garcia answered with a four-play, four-completion drive that
ended with a 23-yard strike to Tai Streets. After Smith was stuffed
on third-and-1 at the 28, Dallas' Billy Cundiff missed a 47-yard
Garcia took over again at his 37 with 2:16 left, and the
2-minute warning his only sure way of stopping the clock. He went
6-of-10, including a spike, and twice ran for first downs.
"It was not a perfect offensive game,'' Garcia said. "But
everyone stepped up and made plays.''
That includes Owens, who needed time to get rolling.
He was shut out in the first quarter, and in the second he was
so upset about a third-down incompletion not going to him that he
looked at the bench with his arms out and palms up; Cowboys safety
Roy Williams stood a few yards behind him and mimicked the gesture.
In the third, Owens gave up on a deep pass that was headed way
out of bounds. He walked by the 49ers' sideline on his way back to
the huddle and appeared to exchange words with Mariucci.
But when the game got tight, Owens kept getting loose. He had
six of his 12 catches and 61 of his 123 yards in the fourth
quarter. And neither of his TD celebrations were highlight-worthy.
On the first, he struck a statue-like pose, then pounded the
ball on a wooden box against the stands. He followed the second
with nothing more dramatic than bumping chests mid-air with Garcia.
"I wasn't going to do anything -- unless you were going to pay
my fine,'' he said. "It's nice to have the last laugh.''
Owens had two TD catches for the fifth time this season, two
shy of the NFL record. His 12 TD catches lead the NFC. ... This was
the sixth straight non-playoff meeting between the teams, the
longest in their 30-game series history. It also was their third
straight at Texas Stadium. ... Dallas' Roy Williams made nine
tackles, two more on special teams and forced a fumble.
Drew Brees says he isn't bothered much by the fact he and the Saints haven't engaged in talks on a contract extension in about two months.
Drew Brees smacks a couple of softball home runs during his teammate Tim Lelito's charity softball game.
The NFL says it is close but still has yet to interview the four players named along with Peyton Manning in a report five months ago that linked them to PEDs.
ESPNDallas columnist Jean-Jacques Taylor and NFL Nation reporter Todd Archer discuss what Randy Gregory needs to do to have a long future with the Cowboys, plus a Dez Bryant-Russell Westbrook comparison.
ESPN Bears reporter Jeff Dickerson discusses how Kevin White looked in Chicago's OTA on Wednesday.
ESPN Redskins reporter John Keim says Preston Smith and the defense, including safety DeAngelo Hall, had a big day against the offense Wednesday.