After the jump, Richie reviews -- minute by painful minute -- yesterday's Dallas Cowboys-New England Patriots game at Texas Stadium, the highlight of which was an alleged Tom Cruise sighting, no sign of his hostage. Ah, well -- to quote another visiting celebrity, "The rain on my car is a baptism, the new me, Ice Man, Power Lloyd, my assault on the world begins now." We're sticking with that.
12:45 p.m. Welcome to Texas Stadium, better known as Lame Duck Theater. Cowboys safety Roy Williams is already stretching, running and, wait, fraternizing! He’s hugging and jiving with Patriots receiver Donté Stallworth. Nothing wrong with being friendly, I guess, but wasn’t it a better world -- or at least a better NFL -- when you just knew this guy hated this guy and vice-versa?
12:58 Tony Romo’s throwing passes to Patrick Crayton. And -- what’s this? -- Crayton is rolling out and throwing long passes back to Romo. Hmm. Remember, Crayton was an All-American quarterback at NW Oklahoma State. Watch for a reverse pass from Crayton today. You heard it here first.
1:00 Now Romo’s bouncing and juking in between throws. Not surprisingly, Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” is blaring from the stadium’s speakers.
1:17 Holy crap, is that …? It is! It is! Kate Friggin’ Hudson! Wearing a cumbersome brown shawl, giant shades that look like 27” plasma TV screens, and -- not that I noticed -- really, really tight, shapely blue jeans. Last time we saw her she was rooting for the Golden State Warriors against our Mavericks. Not surprisingly, Owen Wilson isn’t in the house today.
1:45 Look, on the Cowboys’ bench, right there behind Bill Bates, it’s another pretty face: Eva Longoria! She’s with San Antonio Spurs forward Bruce Bowen and, of course, husband Tony Parker, who’s -- swear -- dressed in a white hoody with gold lamé accents. But for the record, it’s Kate 7, Eva 0. Bates, by the way, is preparing for two of his triplets -- seems like just yesterday they were born -- to attend college at Northwestern University. Bates still owns his ranch in McKinney, is part-owner in a construction company building houses in Waxahachie and is a partner in Temperature Management Systems, those cold-water shoulder pad contraptions that keeps players from wilting in the heat.
2:22 There’s a rumor of a Tom Cruise sighting, but let’s not greedy. Kate and Eva will keep us satisfied for weeks. Dr. Phil is also here. Does he count?
2:46 Cowboys cornerback Anthony Henry is in street clothes. Can Nate Jones possibly keep up with Randy Moss, or even Wes Welker?
2:52 Ladies and gentlemen, singing your National Anthem: Billy Ray Cyrus. God is now rooting for the Patriots.
3:07: The Cowboys are pretty popular. We can assume they are also profitable. Why is it then that the players run onto the field from under a cheesy, cheap inflatable helmet that looks like it was purchased this morning off the clearance rack at Sears?
3:13: This moron just led the team out of the inflatable helmet on a four-wheeler. Scooch a bit, Lord. Even Satan hates the Cowboys now.
3:18 Remember way back when Tyson Thompson was a threat on kickoff returns? After missing most of last year with a knee injury, he’s harmless this year. In 2005 he averaged 24.5; this year, only 22.1.
3:39 Randy Moss’ first touchdown catch. After a 14-play drive, Pats 7-0.
3:47 Terrell Owens’ first drop.
3:55 To answer my previous question, no, Nate Jones can’t blanket Welker. In fact, I don’t like Dallas’ chances of tackling him in a game of flag football. Welker, all 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds, toyed with Dallas to the tune of 11 catches for 124 yards and two scores. If you can’t beat them, draft them. Texas Tech’s current version of Welker -- Danny Amendola -- is bigger and, maybe some day, better. Pats 14-0. Yards: Pats 150, Cowboys -4.
4:00 For all he’s done for the Cowboys offense, coordinator Jason Garrett has propelled Dallas to a whopping six first-quarter points this season. Weird.
4:15 Welcome back, Greg Ellis. He actually got to Tom Brady (only the fourth sack allowed by New England all season) and forced a fumble. Jason Hatcher’s scoop ‘n' score makes it Pats 14-10. Game-changer or minor hiccup?
4:30 See, the Patriots are just an advanced evolution of intelligence. Brady is waiting for the play clock to wind down toward :00 before calling a timeout. Of course, the game clock isn’t running after the previous incompletion, so it doesn’t really make sense. But in their last 89 games they are 70-19, so I’m certain there is a reason.
4:38 Allow me to elaborate. None of the Cowboys can check Welker. Pats 21-10.
4:58 There’s Jason Witten, finally. And there’s Owens, slicing between two Pats’ defenders. Pats 21-17.
5:00 Despite two timeouts and :41, the Patriots are taking a knee and taking it to halftime. You know what they say: You can’t spell chicken without Belichick. Or something like that.
5:05 During Michael Irvin’s Hall of Fame ring ceremony at halftime, he’s appearing alongside wife Sandi. Wake me up when she writes a tell-all book, because I’m buyin’. He thanked God and family and -- what? -- he also thanked Tom Landry and Tex Schramm for drafting him. Cool. Then he punctuated his speech by yelling “THE GLORY DAYS ARE BACK IN DALLAS!” To be determined.
5:15 College football’s first BCS rankings just got released. Ohio State No. 1. South Florida No. 2. That’s South Florida. In preparation of the fall’s first frost, they’re donning sweaters in Hades.
5:21 Sixth game of the season. Third quarter of the game. 67th carry of his year. Julius Jones just broke his first tackle of the season.
5:22 And his second. Wow.
5:25 No, Tony, no! He’s double-covered! Don’t force it! … Touchdown, Cowboys. Romo through four arms and right between Crayton’s 8 and 4. Cowboys 24-21. Game. On.
5:32 For the first time today the sellout crowd is actually a factor. Barely, but a factor.
5:40 That same crowd is now meekly booing, but admit it, that was totally interference on Patrick Watkins in the end zone. One play later, Pats 28-24.
5:45 Marion Barber just produced the most dangerous, most exciting two-yard run of the season. Back-tracking to as much as seven yards deep into the end zone, Barber fought, clawed and scrambled to within one tackle of a 90-yard touchdown run. Instead, punt. Welker 18-yard return. Trouble.
5:48 Moss with almost a spectacular touchdown catch. Whew. He almost got both feet down. He almost held onto the ball. Whew. What?! No way. Refs call a touchdown, but absolutely no way. God bless replay. Right?
5:54 Bottom line: Replay saves Dallas four points and a temporary stay of execution. Pats 31-24.
6:00 Pats by seven. Start of the fourth quarter. Cowboys facing 4th and 1 at their own 47. Delicious.
6:03 Barber, first down! Or, holding on Kyle Kosier. Ouch. Early nominee for play of the game.
6:10 In retrospect, yeah, Kosier’s penalty is big. Brady’s fifth touchdown of the day is a 69-yard catch-and-run by Stallworth. Assist to Jaques Reeves, courtesy of a missed tackle around the 30. Pats 38-24.
6:15 Thompson 72 yards on the ensuing kickoff return! Toldja earlier he was due for a breakout. Or did I?
6:17 Desperately needing a touchdown on third-and-goal from the 5, Romo goes to -- huh? -- Sam Hurd? Field goal makes it Pats 38-27, but the crowd is right. Boooo. Bad decision.
6:25 As unstoppable as blinking, the Pats’ offense methodically grinds down field, squeezing blood from the Cowboys and time from the clock. Dallas would be lucky to stop them once. Phillips’ decision makes them get two stops. Again, horrible.
6:29: It’s hip and happenin’, but even the playing of Soulja Boy can’t dig Dallas out of this hole.
6:31 Texas Stadium’s notoriously slow elevator to the field turns slower than refrigerated honey when we have to miss two trips for Patriots owner Robert Kraft. And his entourage, which includes Hudson.
6:36 Twelve long plays later, Pats 41-27. Ball game. Actually, another rub-it-in touchdown. Final, Pats 48-27. It wasn’t really that ugly. Dallas was, however, outscored 27-3 over the final 25 minutes.
6:42 Always smiling and usually happy, Romo is relatively storming off the field. Stern, emotionless face. Hat on forward. Glaring over at New England’s tunnel. It’s actually a great sign. The guy hates to lose.
6:43 Cowboys without quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson: 5-0. Cowboys with Wilson: 0-1.
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6:50 “Well, they are that good,” says Phillips in Dallas’ locker room. “We have a lot of work to do. We thought we were one of the elite, but obviously we’re not. We’ve got a long way to go. Maybe this will be a wake-up call for us.”
7:00 “They’re a great football team,” says Romo, “and we’re a pretty darn good one.”
7:15 “Next question,” says Owens when asked to compare his game to Moss'. “We lost. Next question. It wasn’t me against him. Next question.”
7:30 The Game of the Millennium is done. Feeling ... empty. But there is hope. Still in a Cowboys mood? For only $500 you can attend Irvin’s latest Hall of Fame party tonight at 6 at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House. Or, if you’re in the mood to be distracted by an entirely different sport and, um, lotsa skin, the Dallas Mavericks Dancers reveal some cleavage, flat abs and their 2007-08 calendar tonight at House of Blues at 6:30. --Richie Whitt