Payton Place

We saw these yesterday while Christmas shopping. And not at a deep discount, either. To be honest, you couldn't pay us to take these. Well, Julius Jones, maybe. But the Roy Williams figurine? We'd just lose it 30 yards downfield anyway.

Mike Karney 18, Dallas Cowboys 17. Where to start? Let's go right to the top, where Bill Parcells had his stubborn, old-school shit handed to him in a bag by former assistant Sean Payton last night. The New Orleans Saints' coach opened a refreshing can of whupass on his mentor, employing a game plan aimed at scoring the most points instead of merely trying to win the time of possession. Payton called a reverse on 4th-and-1, tried an onside kick when already up 18 points and diagrammed three touchdowns for fullback Karney, who had touched the ball only 14 times all year and never scored in 43 previous games.

What did Bill do? Other than draw a 15-yard penalty for not knowing he couldn't throw the challenge flag in the last two minutes -- how can a man so immersed for so long in football not know the rules?! -- he basically folded his arms and winced helplessly. And now you know: For three years on Parcells' staff here in Dallas, Payton wasn't groomed. He was handcuffed. Regardless, a Gatorade dousing in improving to 9-4 seems a little odd, right? Which brings us, sort of, to Tony Romo. Yuck.

He had a horrible game, leading receivers five yards of bounds, throwing well behind open targets and tossing two picks that should've been three had one not been dropped/deflected to Terrell Owens for the flukiest of touchdowns. In the last two weeks Romo has thrown four interceptions and seen his quarterback rating fall from first to fourth in the league. On the bright side, don't all fairy tales feature at least one dark chapter of adversity?

Which brings us, sort of, to Owens. Anybody see his sitdown with ESPN's Michael Irvin? T.O. actually said he wasn't all that happy as a Cowboy and that he was "kind of faking it." And, of course, on the field he made his weekly blatant drop, prompting boos from the Texas Stadium crowd.

Which brings us, sort of -- no, actually directly -- to the crowd. As embarrassing as the team was on the field, the fans in the stands were equally punchless. Not a lot to get excited about when your squad coughs up 42 points in two quarters, mind you, but allowing Saints fans to serenade their players with chants of "Reg-gie" for Bush, "Dooooooce" for McAllister and "Who Dat?" is downright humiliating. It reminded us what we've know for years: Passive-reactionary Cowboys fans will always cheer after a good play, but never make any noise in an attempt to help create a good play. Which begs the question: Why are fans generally more boisterous on the road than in their own damn stadium?

Which brings us, finally, to the kicking. You knew we'd get there eventually dincha? As predicted, Martin Gramatica botched a field goal and is not the answer. But after last night's thrashing, the Cowboys suddenly have multiple questions. --Richie Whitt

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky

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