From Ballin' to Bawlin'

Remember back when the New York Giants were all cocky and all celebratin' like rappers-turned-hoopsters-turned-footballers? Remember even further back, when we were just so sure that if the Dallas Cowboys were gonna be worth a crap they'd have to get great seasons from Drew Bledsoe, Greg Ellis and Mike Vanderjagt? Yesterday's win at The Meadowlands confirms this may indeed be a magical season after all.

Why would Tony Romo be interested in Jessica Simpson when he's got Martin Gramatica? Seriously.

Tony Romo's still pulling rabbits out of his Division I-AA, undrafted hat, and even Bill Parcells is looking smart. The Testy Tuna benched Bledsoe, and I think it's safe to say that move is working out OK. Now he cuts Vanderjagt and replaces him with Martin Gramatica, who, after about 17 sign-of-the-cross prayers, drills a game-winning field goal with a second left on the game clock. Said Parcells of his new acquisition: "I told him he was making me look good."

The Cowboys are 8-4, with a two-game lead in the NFC East and the inside track to a first-round bye in the playoffs. For the first time in a long time, all seems right. Terrell Owens' birthday bash is tonight in Hollywood, the coffee tasted better this morning, and owner Jerry Jones is amped again. "This one substantiates all the things we've done over the past four or five weeks," Jones says.

You'd rather be lucky than good, and one wonders where this season would be if not for two crucial, crappy plays. Bledsoe threw an interception at the goal line against the Giants on October 23, prompting one of the unlikeliest quarterback fairy tales in NFL history. And on November 5 Vanderjagt booted what would have been a game-winning 35-yard field goal at Washington, only to have it blocked and returned in what at the time felt like a permanently deflating loss. If Vanderjagt makes that kick, the Cowboys win that game, and the words "Martin" and "Gramatica" never appear on this blog. OK, maybe just not "Gramatica."

None of that even remotely leads us to Fox sideline reporter-waste of time Pam Oliver, but, alas, here we are.

As the Cowboys mounted their winning drive in the final minute, analyst Troy Aikman deftly warned about Giants Stadium's swirling winds. "I don't know what it's doing now," Aikman said, begging for an update, "but it was really blowing before the game." Where was Pam? Likely trying on yet another scarf and matching hip hat, as if starring in her own personal Gap commercial, and not providing viewers anything remotely close to useful information. After the game, on Fox's OT post-game show, Oliver concluded an empty interview with Romo with this enlightening salutation: "Thanks for making me wait 10 minutes," Oliver said to Romo. "I'm freezin', dude." Come back, Tony Siragusa, all is forgiven. --Richie Whitt

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky