Martin Fennelly Columns
Fennelly: Hard to believe the Bucs once had a 4-2 record
TAMPA - It being Christmas time, maybe Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, having given a vote of confidence to his own head coach, Jason Garrett, could have given Raheem Morris one, too. Hey, Jerry, it's the season of giving, isn't it? Nothing – not even a stinking gift card. Instead, this Bucs train to nowhere kept rolling Saturday night with a truly lifeless start before a rare home sellout and on national television, provided you get the NFL Network, your misfortune. The Cowboys won 31-15. It wasn't that close, not at all.To think, the last time the Bucs were under the lights, they improved to 3-1 in a sold-out Ray Jay with a Monday night win against the woeful and winless Colts. The butcher's bill stands at eight losses in a row, something this franchise hasn't done in a season since Ray Perkins' days. There exists a rock solid chance at 10 in a row to end it, 4-12 overall and a news conference shortly after the season's merciful end. Actually, today is an option. You're asking yourself: These guys were once 4-2? ""All we can do now in these two games," center Jeff Faine said," is end on a high note – well, I don't mean a high note, just a higher note." By halftime Saturday, down 28-0, Raheem's Bucs had given up 69 points in a row. By halftime, the Cowboys had 279 yards, the Bucs had 55. At one point in the third quarter, the Cowboys had 23 first downs and the Bucs had one. I'd never quite seen anything like that. "There were times when it was frustrating, to say the least," Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman said. Tony Romo looked like Tom Brady. When you make Tony Romo and the Cowboys look like late-season closers, you know you're bad. Dallas is trying like crazy to lose the NFC East and the playoffs, but the Bucs would have none of it. They might have laid the egg of eggs in giving up 41 points in a row last Sunday at Jacksonville, but they still had some stinko left in their tanks for the Cowpokes. In other news, Jones, the face of the Cowboys, the owner of America's most valuable sports franchise, was seen on the field before Saturday's game in deep conversation with the owners of the world's most valuable franchise: Manchester United. Jerry chopped it up with the Glazer troika of Bryan, Joel and Ed. Top Three Things Jerry Said: 1. "Let me just say this: The free-agent punter looks good." 2. "And after you boys get your dome built …" 3. "Wait – Ed's your brother ?" Freeman fumbled just after a long gain in the first quarter for the Bucs' 32nd turnover of the season. A little later, on third and goal from the Bucs 8-yard line, Romo eluded the potent Tampa Bay pass rush for approximately 32 seconds, even bumping into his own lineman, before threading a touchdown pass. On the next Dallas possession, Romo threw to a wide open Dez Bryant in the back of the end zone for a touchdown … on third and goal from the Bucs 8. Stop us if you see a pattern developing … By the way, after Freeman's fumble, the Bucs had four consecutive three-and-outs. In the second quarter, on third and 5 from the Tampa Bay 9, Romo threw to a wide-open Laurent Robinson in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. Yes, definitely a pattern. It should be noted that by this point much of the sellout crowd was quite happy in their Cowboys jerseys and all. This was a split house. Bucs fans were left to boo as their fellows trudged off at halftime. Don't you hate making the Cowboys look like world beaters? Let's put just how little the Cowboys have done the past 15 years in perspective: Richest American sports franchise, two playoffs wins since their 1995 Super Bowl season. Since Jerry and his boys were last in the Super Bowl, 17 other teams have made the big game. And since the Cowboys last played in a conference championship game, 23 other teams have made at least one conference title game. That's how much the Cowboys have done. Then there are the 2011 Bucs. Yes, the Bucs rallied … rallied, I say … a certified We-Still-Love-Raheem charge from his guys, futile as can be, after there was no real doubt as to who would win. "Fortunately, for us, the team didn't die on us like last week," Morris said. "They fought back, they came back in the second half, they didn't surrender, but they've got to come out faster." But this was a Dallas night. It's always the other guy's night right now. You can't help but be a juggernaut against Raheem's team. You bring the Jugger, the Bucs will supply the Naught.
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