IRVING, Texas -- Terrell Owens' bottom lip was quivering,
his voice wavering.
While his teary eyes were hidden behind dark sunglasses, he
couldn't hide his disappointment -- or his loyalty to quarterback
Tony Romo -- after the Cowboys' 21-17 playoff loss to the New York
Giants on Sunday.
"This is not about Tony. You guys can point the finger at him,
you can talk about the vacation, and if you do that, it's really
unfair," Owens said, his voice choked with emotion. "It's really
unfair. That's my teammate. That's my quarterback. You guys do
that, it's not fair. We lost as a team. We lost as a team, man."
A week after Romo's well-documented bye weekend getaway to
Mexico with Jessica Simpson and a couple of teammates, the Cowboys'
season is over. After a 13-3 regular season that clinched the NFC's
top seed, Dallas instead made it 11 straight seasons without a
As promised, Owens was back on the field for the Cowboys after
missing the regular-season finale and 2½ weeks of practice because
of an ankle sprain.
Owens dropped the first pass thrown his way, but shuffled his
feet to stay in bounds for a 4-yard touchdown. He finished with
four catches for 49 yards, but didn't get a chance to catch a
"They kind of doubled T.O. on the outside and Terry had a guy
running with him up the middle," Romo said. "I tried to throw to
the one guy in one-on-one and hope for something lucky."
Owens pushed his helmet awkwardly on top of his head and walked
toward the sideline after the play.
Defeated and deflated, there were no more chances. Instead, T.O.
and the Cowboys were left trying to make sense of another
devastating postseason finish.
"It's hard, I can't," Owens said.
There was last year's wild-card loss in Seattle when Romo
botched the snap on what would have been a chip-shot field goal in
the closing minutes. Now, it's losing their first home playoff game
in nine years, against an NFC East rival they beat twice in the
"It's very disappointing, especially after the way last year
ended," Owens said. "This year, we felt we were destined to get
to the Super Bowl and we didn't make enough plays."
But they made plenty of mistakes.
Take Amani Toomer's 52-yard touchdown on the Giants' opening
drive, when he caught the ball in an open gap near the 40, slipped
away from two defenders while Pro Bowl safety Roy Williams fell
down, then outran another Cowboy to the end zone.
After the Cowboys took a 14-7 lead on Marion Barber's 1-yard
plunge with 53 seconds left in the first half, New York went 71
yards in seven plays to tie the game. The Giants got 15 of those
yards on a facemask penalty.
"We let them back in it, and that gave them some hope,"
Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said.
The Cowboys went three-and-out after regaining the lead in the
third quarter, when guard Leonard Davis' unnecessary roughness
penalty wiped out a first down. McQuarters' 25-yard return on the
ensuing punt set up New York's go-ahead touchdown.
Facing third-and-20 from midfield with 4 minutes left, Romo had
to call timeout because the play clock was running out. Once they
regrouped, Owens was streaking toward the end zone. By the time he
turned around, there was a defender between he and the ball that
fell several yards short of where he was.
"It's hard, especially right now because you need to take a
step back," Romo said, when asked if a 13-win season still means
anything. "I've grown up in the sense that I'm not naive to
believe that everything is going to work out perfect. So I
appreciate the moments sometimes, even though we didn't accomplish
There will be no rematch next week at Texas Stadium against
Green Bay and Brett Favre, the team and quarterback Romo grew up in
Wisconsin rooting for, with a Super Bowl berth on the line.
The Cowboys beat the Packers at the end of November, a victory
that ultimately gave Dallas the NFC's top seed.
"Obviously, the regular season don't matter. This is very
evident," Owens said. "When the playoffs start, it's any man's
game. We came up short."