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T.O. 28, Redskins 23

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Anybody else out of popcorn?

As instructed, I had mine ready. But after yet another amazing, dominating, downright delicious performance by the Cowboys receiver, looks like we’re gonna need another bucket. This is getting good.

Shocking us all by continuing his high-production, low-drama season, T.O. scored all four of the Cowboys’ touchdowns in yesterday’s 28-23 escape from the Washington Redskins. Owens was simply unstoppable in Dallas’ three-game sweep of its NFC East foes, totaling six touchdowns as Dallas climbed to 9-1 for only the third time in franchise history. After beating the lowly New York Jets on Thanksgiving, we’ll all get a week to hype the November 29 showdown against the Green Bay Packers for what likely will be a showdown for home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

Owens’ day -- eight catches for 173 yards and touchdowns of four, 31, 46 and 52 yards -- salvaged a horrendous defensive performance during which the Cowboys surrendered an unfathomable 361 passing yards to Jason Friggin’ Campbell. Dallas didn’t avoid the upset until Campbell’s last-second, desperation heave into the end zone was knocked down by -- yup-- T.O.

Give offensive coordinator Jason Garrett credit for designing new plays for Owens to zip up the seam of Washington’s depleted secondary. Give credit to the offensive line for giving time to Tony Romo, and give the quarterback credit for getting the ball to Owens. But, mostly, this was the T.O. show we’ve all been waiting for. Patiently or not.

“Astounding,” head coach Wade Phillips said. “You don’t see many games like that. Some receivers just can’t get to the spots he got to.”

Owens’ four scores tied Bob Hayes’ team record set in 1970. It also allowed him more precious time soaking up the fans chanting his name, while forcing him to conjure up fake motivation.

“I’m playing with a chip on my shoulder,” he said after the game. “People still don’t want to give me credit.”

Enough already, credit given.

I was right about the impact of the kindler, gentler head coach. But let’s be happy the Cowboys didn’t exactly follow this free advice. --Richie Whitt

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