ARLINGTON, Texas - Tony Romo has one playoff win, a lot of money, and a limitless amount of chutzpah.
The quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys decided it was time to address the multi-colored elephant within AT&T Stadium these days, otherwise known as the abundance of visiting fans. For the third time in as many home games, the visiting crew was well represented, and uncomfortably loud.
In select parts of AT&T Stadium, and in the "party pass" section of both end zones, it looked like Houston, and it sounded like a Texans' home game. The ratio of Cowboys/opposing fans was not as bad as it was in Week 1 against the San Francisco 49ers, but once again the visiting team traveled well.
Mr. Romo noticed them, heard them, and didn't like it. Romo said of the many home games he has played where the visitor has been well represented, Sunday was the loudest. He said he had to use a silent snap count for nearly the entire game.
"Today was the hardest. No question today we played on the road throughout a lot of it," Romo said in his post-game press conference. "It was probably half and half our fans to their fans. I don’t know what it was. More than you can just tell with the crowd noise. That was every bit as loud as going to St. Louis or Tennessee. We need to understand that."
Romo has enjoyed the reverse of this for years. The Cowboys games played this season both in Nashville and St. Louis, they were the de facto home team there. It's always that way in Arizona, Miami and other cities.
"We lose a lot of our ability to do some things at the line of scrimmage, presnap and lot of stuff that gives us a big advantages," he said. "We have to make sure going forward we have a lot more percentage all Cowboys (fans)."
OK, Senior Director of Ticket Sales, how do you do that? As Jerry Jones has correctly noted, the secondary ticket market for events now is so sophisticated there is no way to prevent a Texans fan from buying a ticket to a game at AT&T Stadium. StubHub and other sites are loaded with possibilities.
Near the end of this little piece of constructive criticism, Romo tried to make a save: “I think the fans have been awesome this year,” he said. “We just need to tighten up maybe on selling our tickets."
Fans, and the media – me included – have been rough on Romo in his tenure as the starting quarterback of the Cowboys. It is certainly understandable if he would want to go after those who have ripped him for having the audacity to lose, be human, and not be Troy or Roger.
Romo didn’t criticize Cowboys fans, but he was critical at the ratio. He has to know fighting fans is a losing proposition. The better move is to shut it, and deal with it.
OTHER WEEK 5 OBSERVATIONS
The Cowboys should never be criticized for not selecting Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt in the 2011 NFL draft. Watt, arguably the best defensive player in the NFL right now, will not have a longer career than the man the Cowboys did select, left tackle Tyron Smith. Smith was selected two picks ahead of Watt in that draft.
On Sunday, Smith faced Watt several times, but this was not a 1-on-1 matchup. The Texans moved Watt around, and although he was credited with just four tackles he made a difference. He had one sack that could have potentially changed the game, but …
On Tony Romo’s 43-yard touchdown pass to Terrance Williams in the third quarter, Watt should have had a sack. Romo, however, spun out of it and was able to complete the pass in the endzone. Watt actually beat Smith on the play. “He got a good jump on our count,” Smith told me. “I was supposed to be a little more tightened up in there. Things lot a little crazy; some miscommunication. We did the best we could and Romo made a heck of a play.”
Both of these players are two of the best in the NFL, and selecting either player would have been the right pick. The safer pick is Smith, who because of the position he plays should have a longer career than Watt.
In case you lost count, DeMarco Murray ran the ball 31 times and caught six passes on Sunday. He accounted for 192 total yards. The last, and other, players to rush for more than 100 yards in each of the first five games were Jim Brown and O.J. Simpson. Kinda hoping Murray's post-playing career goes a better than Simpson's.
The Texans need one player – a quarterback. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a nice backup, but he is not a threat.
Cowboys linebacker Rolando McClain has been hurting in each of the last two weeks with a groin injury, and he re-aggravated it in the fourth quarter when he was trying to cover and chase Texans running back Arian Foster on a pass and catch. McClain did not return to the game after that play, and was visibly limping in the locker room.
“I felt it well before then,” McClain said after the game. “Just fighting through it. It is what it is.”
Never in the history of the world has someone said “It is what it is” and it’s been a good thing. After McClain left the game the defense looked visibly different without him. They need him, and he knows it.
“It’s a great win. How can you down after that?” he said. “I am sure I will feel it later.”
He’s not perfect, but Cowboys second-year safety J.J. Wilcox was noticeable and active in the first half. For the game, he was credited with five tackles and one pass defended. “He is tackling a lot better,” Cowboys safety Barry Church told me. “He is becoming the player we knew he could become. He does it in practice it’s not a surprise to us. He’s now showing it in games, and he just needs to do it more consistently.”
This was a matter of if not when. Kicker Dan Bailey’s string of 30 consecutive successful field goal attempts ended at the end of regulation that could have won the game with a 53-yarder.
“I think it got tipped and it flickered a little bit to the left,” Cowboys defensive end Jeremy Mincey said. Bailey now has 10 misses in his career – three that would have won the game in regulation.
Unlike his potential game-winners against Arizona and Baltimore, no one is going to remember Sunday’s miss because he made the game-winner in OT.
He stood at his locker and answered questions from the media for more than 20 minutes after the game.
"Has to be a record," he said.
NEXT UP: Tony Romo, get ready for "Do You Remember The Time You Bobbled The Snap in Seattle?" questions. The Cowboys travel to Seattle to play the Seahawks on Sunday. The defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks are pretty decent, and feature Texas Rangers "prospect" Russell Wilson at quarterback, and Richard Sherman at cornerback. Romo figures to have a much harder time with the snap count in that game.
FORT WORTH, Texas - Of the many upsets TCU has enjoyed since Gary Patterson became its head coach, its 37-33 win on Saturday over Oklahoma warranted a good field-rush by the fans, but it should not come as a major surprise.
From the sidelines, it was apparent quickly TCU was a big underdog in name only. TCU entered its game ranked 25th, but it was apparent quickly they were/are much closer to the then No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners than previously thought.
TCU could run with, stand up to, and push Oklahoma. These are not your Rose Bowl TCU Horned Frogs. The Rose Bowl-team was an intelligent group, but this team has players who can compete with the biggest and best of the Big 12. TCU was ready to win and close out this kind of game against that caliber of opponent.
TCU's win over OU was not an accident, or much of an upset. The Horned Frogs were the better team, with the better quarterback, and they deserved to win. Watching this game you had the feeling they would beat OU again. Not 10 out of 10 times, but five out of 10.
In the AP's latest Who the Hell Knows What The Top 25 Really Is Poll, TCU is No. 9. TCU's next opponent, Baylor, is fifth. The USA Today poll has TCU 12th, and Baylor No. 3. The Bears received one first-place vote in the USA Today poll.
(BTW - I love this photo of No. 24 celebrating the win with his teammates, and a TCU bro' who squeezed in 9 on Saturday morning before he hit the tailgate. Ryan DeNucci is the backup place kicker, does not look like he dropped a single bead of sweat during this game, and will have this memory forever. This is why college football is better than the NFL.)
TCU's front seven, specifically the linebackers, are able to do the things Gary Patterson needs in order to work. They are active, athletic and make plays near the line of scrimmage. He will not like the fact they gave up 33 points, or that OU receiver Sterling Shephard had 215 receiving yards. Gary should be thrilled that TCU held OU running back Samaje Perine to an average of 3.5 yards per rush, and QB Trevor Knight threw two interceptions and completed 40 percent of his passes.
TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin looks like a player who has two years of experience, and knows what to do. He also competes like his life depends on every play. The line in front of him is improved, and his ability to move alleviates any pressure they feel to hold blocks for a more coventional passer. In college football, a decent line with a mobile quarterback can buy yards, points and wins.
TCU should not be expected to win the Big 12, but it should no longer be a big surprise when they beat Oklahoma, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, and Baylor.
I began this season with $50 of Monopoly money. I will mock bet, against the line, five games from college/NFL every week. Over the last two years, I am plus $110 which confirms what we already know - I am a winner.
Took a hit last week ... 2-3. Still plenty of time to get rich, which I will. I just need more games! Overall record: 10-16
LAST WEEK: 2-3 1. Missouri at South Carolina (-5). GAMECOCKS. LOSS 2. Arkansas v. Texas A&M (-9.5). AGGIES. LOSS 3. Texas (-13) at Kansas. HORNS. UT WIN 4. Bucs at Steelers (-7.5) BUCS. WIN 5. Falcons (-3) at Vikings. FALCONS. LOSS
THIS WEEK: 5-0 1. South Carolina (-4) at Kentucky. WILDCATS. SC should be fired up but UK is OK & at home. 2. Oklahoma (-5.5) at TCU. FROGS. TCU lost last 2 games v. OU by a combined 10 points. 3. Alabama (-5.5) at Ole Miss. TIDE. Can't trust Bo Wallace. 4. Houston Texans at Dallas Cowboys (-6). COWBOYS. Confident. 5. Cincy Bengals (-1.5) at NE Patriots. GISELE. This is the type of game the Bengals usually lose.
DALLAS, Texas - Gal Mekel has never seen the movie "Airplane!" so I had to tell him of one of this film's many memorable lines:
Elaine Dickinson: Would you like something to read? Hanging Lady: Do you have anything light? Elaine Dickinson: How about this leaflet, "Famous Jewish Sports Legends?"
Mekel, a second-year guard with the Dallas Mavericks who is from Israel, actually had a good laugh at this. There are just not a lot of famous celebrity type pro athletes in the history of North American sports who are Jewish, and very few who are from Israel.
I asked Mekel if he knew Sandy Koufax - "Oh yeah," he said. But Mekel was not familiar with baseball players such as Hank Greenberg and Shawn Green. Greenberg was a two-time American League MVP with the Detroit Tigers, and is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Green had a nice 15-year career from 1993 to 2007.
Five years ago, Omri Casspi became the first Israeli to play in the NBA. He and Mekel are the only ones to make it. There have been several prominent American-Jewish players to achieve celebrity status in pro sports - Koufax, Greenberg, swimmer Mark Spitz, etc.
On Saturday, Mekel will not be practicing with the Mavericks, who are in the beginning of training camp. At sundown on Friday to sundown Saturday, Mekel will take a day off to observe the holiest of Jewish holidays, Yom Kippur.
"For me, there is only one day where I don't do anything and that is Yom Kippur," he said. "I won't practice on the fourth. I will fast. Everybody here understands. I think a lot of people in the states respect religions because there are so many cultures in this country. I didn't have any problem with it."
Mekel, 26, averaged 2.4 points in 31 games as a rookie last season with the Mavs. Before coming to the Mavs, he had been one of the best players on the Maccabi Haifa pro team in Israel. The fact that he is here in the NBA, even on the bench, is a major accomplishment.
"There are a lot of good basketball players in Israel. It's a small country. Only eight million," he said. "Isreali basketball is growing and it's good. We have had players who got drafted but didn't make it to the league. Some played in college here, but never made it to the NBA."
Given how few prominent Jewish players there are in any of the four American professional sports leagues, that Mekel is on the Mavs makes him a Famous Jewish Sports Legend.
MELISSA RYCROFT is one of the rare members of the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders to "make it big" after her time in those painfully tight outfits is over. She was with the squad for two years, and then turned her shot on The Bachelor into a career.
She is married, has two young children, lives in the Dallas area, and recently was a host of an event in Dallas partnered with Smirnoff Ice. Rycroft was nice enough to answer some Uncomfortable Questions, some of which came from my readers on my Facebook page, that you need to immediately join. Critics say, "It will change your life," Mac Engel said.
Hosting the Making the Team show, did see the squad dramatically differently? Absolutely. The biggest wakeup to all of it is how young the girls are. If I did this show now, when I'm in my 30s with my own confidence, I wouldn't let the process shake me. They are 18 or 19 and trying to figure it out and it's stressful.
Are squad director Kelli McGonagill and choreographer Judy Trammell has hard as they seem? Now that I have gotten to know them outside of the process, they are not nearly as scary. I know they have to have that intimidating Type A personality in front of the girls to get the most out of them. Those two have it set up where the girls are intimidated by them.
The Cowboys cheerleader outfits are notoriously unforgiving; could you pull it off today? Sure, if I wanted people to laugh at me. A 31-year-old, that's not the business for me after two kids.
Would you want your daughter to do this? That's a hard question because what happened to me was so accidental. Would I tell them to go on The Bachelor? Absolutely not. I am not pushing them into any industry. My goal is to let her be she wants to be. I would be honest with her and say it's the hardest thing you've ever done, it will break you down physically and mentally, but it can be one of the greatest times of your life.
You said no to The Bachelor? The Bachelor is for a lot of people not successful. I went on it during a damaged part of my life. You have to do it knowing everybody is watching, your father, grandfather, everyone.
Was it awkward shooting it? It was in one sense. The contestants on the show have never done anything like that. There is no down time. With the Cowboys cheerleader show, the cameras are turned off. On The Bachelor, they are on morning, noon and night. After a few days, it becomes normal.
How much of it is real, and how much of it is the producer's touch? It's both. I don't think people are naive to Reality TV anymore. You have to have a story line, a plot and drama. At the end of the day production can't make you say something you didn’t say. But it does have to be manipulated to be dramatic.
Did you think the concept - meet a guy and then get married so quickly - could really work? My parents had the same view as you. I'm the only person in that show's history whose parents were not involved. They didn't believe in it. At the time, I did. I believed we would get married and sail into the sunset. Once the cameras are off, it doesn't work. We had gone out three dates, I don't know him. I've been married for five years and now I know that.
Do you now see how rare it is to pull off what you have pulled off? Yes. It doesn't make sense. It doesn't add up or believable. A lot of it is timing. I've been lucky.
Reader questions ...
Are there 'mean girls' on the squad? There is always that in any organization, especially one as prestigious as this where there is so much competition to make the squad, the calendar. There is no hazing, but these are beautiful girls vying for head spots.
Your ab workout? I'm a traditional crunch girl. I do them watching TV with my feet under the sofa.
Jerry Jones ever give the squad a pep talk? I never met him. I only saw him once during my run as a cheerleader. He walked down the tunnel in front of us and we were starstruck.
Funniest line a man ever dropped on you? Oh, jeez. I don't remember them. I have been in a relationship for so long ... I am sure I heard some stupid ones.
How do you keep your teeth so white? I have to have Crest White Strips.
Favorite places to eat in DFW? Mi Cocina; I love the Mambo Taxi. Fuzzy's Tacos.
IRVING, Texas - By their very nature kickers are weirdos. They also have the memory of an elephant, or a golfer. They remember every kick, and more specifically every miss.
Dan Bailey has been the Cowboys kicker since 2011, and "I'm not sure how many I have missed," Bailey told me in an exclusive interview with The Big Mac Blog. Not every reporter can just an interview a kicker.
Bailey has made 97 of 106 field goals in his career. That’s a 91.5 percent accuracy. Fairly decent, and not many misses to remember. If my math is correct, he has missed nine field goals in his career. He is 8 for 8 this season on field goals, and I wanted to see if he remembers the last time he missed.
“Uhh … San Diego,” he said.
Bingo – give the man a cigar.
On Sept. 9, 2013 in San Diego, Bailey missed a 56-yard attempt in the second quarter. Should have cut him on the spot.
“I remember it was a pretty long one,” he said. “I hit it pretty well; it just went a little left.”
"It is one of those things that you do remember the misses," he said. "I try to remember all of them, especially the long kicks, or end of game situations."
I tried to stump him.
"Oh ... yeah. Hard one to forget," he said.
On Oct. 14, 2012, Bailey missed a 51-yard field goal with a few seconds remaining that would have won the game. It was one of two misses he had that year.
ME: The Giants?
"Yep - my rookie year. (Jason Pierre Paul) got it," he said.
With six seconds remaining, the Cowboys ran Bailey on the field for a potential game-tying kick from 47 yards.
ARLINGTON, Texas - One of the "big benefits" to a trash season is the chance for a young kid to play games and get at bats he otherwise should not have seen at the major league level.
In the case of the 2014 Texas Rangers, there was opportunity and at bats for ... pretty much everybody.
When Jurickson Profar went down with his shoulder injury, it forced the Rangers to promote Rougned Odor from his third-grade little league team to the majors. Odor is actually 20, but the 114 games he played in '14 didn't break him. These games and this experience will give the Rangers the everyday second baseman they thought they had in Profar.
He struggled with plate discipline in the 417 at bats he had, but he showed enough to think he can do this. Odor batted .259 with 14 doubles, seven triples, nine home runs, 48 RB. He also whiffed 71 times and walked 17.
This is not too dissimilar to the beginnings of one Michael Young. In 2001, the Rangers were awful despite a lineup that featured Ivan Rodriguez, Alex "That's Not My Syringe" Rodriguez, Rafael "That's Not My Syringe" Palmeiro, etc.
Young was pushed into the lineup as a 24-year-old rookie. In 106 games and 429 at bats, he batted .249 with 18 doubles, four triples, 11 home runs and 49 RBI. He struckout 91 times.
Eventually, Young figured it out and became one of the top five most important players in this franchise's history.
"The opportunities they got are very similar because of circumstances," Rangers interim manager Tim Bogar told me. "I don't know if Odor is in Michael Young's category yet - you know what I am saying? Back then, I don't think anybody expected Michael Young to do what he did."
No one did. In 2002, new Rangers GM John Hart wanted to deal Young, and reluctantly agreed to keep him there. He liked Young, but he wasn't his guy.
"Odor has a huge upside," Bogar said.
Odor is rated as a far better prospect than Young ever was. Now, like Young, despite less than ideal circumstances behind his promotion he showed he can do it.
DALLAS, Texas - Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle joked Tyson Chandler is the most popular one-year player in the history of any franchise.
Chandler has played for five different teams in 13 NBA seasons, yet that one year he played with the Mavericks - 2010-'11 - is the one that made him a Mav for life.
"I spent one year here and everybody equates my career to being here," he said at Mavs' media day this week. "Even guys around the league (will ask), 'How many years did you play in Dallas?' And I'll say one. And they say, 'What?' Everybody thinks I was here four, five or six years. It was one really long, incredible year. I am definitely tied here and it's a great thing that I am."
Chandler, whom the Mavs acquired in the offseason in a trade with the New York Knicks, is back for the final year of his contract.
The first time he came here little was expected of Chandler. He was coming off another injury plagued season, then with the Charlotte Bobcats.
"I don't think anybody knew what to expect the first time around," he said. "Clearly this time around, having success and winning a championship, expectations are a little bit different."
His length, energy, activity and ability to change shots should improve the Mavs' defense immediately. This team has not been strong defensively on the perimeter, or at the rim, since he left. Chandler changes that, when he plays.
If there is any drawback to Chandler, or concern, is that he remains a guy who simply can't stay healthy. He has never played a full 82-game season, in the past two years he has been limited to 66 and 55 games, respectively.
In his one year with the Mavs, he played 74 games but did not miss a playoff game. I asked him if the "injury prone" label was fair.
"Uhh ... you know, I don't know. I've had injuries in my career. I guess you could throw that out there," he said. "Whether it's fair or not, it's not for me to honestly care about. I go day by day trying to perform to the best of my capabilities. And from there you never know what happens."
Carlisle has said managing Chandler's minutes - somewhere under 30 a night - is a priority. The Mavs do not expect him to play 82 games - they hope in the 70s - but a full playoff run will makeup for any regular season game he misses.