T.O.: Cowboys 'have to go back to the drawing table'

NEW YORK -- Terrell Owens hopes his coaches spent their bye week looking back at what made the Dallas Cowboys so successful last season.

In other words, how they got T.O. the ball.

The outspoken wide receiver with the well-worn reputation for wanting to be involved simply hasn't been during the Cowboys' midseason swoon. He's been held to a pair of catches three times this season, doesn't have a 100-yard receiving game and has caught more than one touchdown pass just once.

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And only once has he been the Cowboys' leading receiver -- when he caught five passes for a measly 33 yards in a 13-9 win over Tampa Bay, the team setting a dubious franchise record for fewest total yards in a victory in the process.

"We have to go back to the drawing table and look at the things that made us successful last year, moving me around a little bit, really just making an effort to get the ball in my hands on certain routes," Owens said Tuesday, during a signing for his new book in Manhattan.

A lot of the offensive woes have to do with the injury to quarterback Tony Romo, which certainly didn't help the Cowboys' downward spiral. A 4-1 start and aspirations of a first-round playoff bye have been replaced by a pedestrian 5-4 mark and the very real possibility of missing the postseason altogether.

"The reality is, you can have a lot of confidence but if you're going out there on the football field and not matching the play with the confidence, you're not doing so good," Owens said. "I think that's very indicative of our record. You can't be good on paper, you have to do it on the field."

Romo hasn't played since he broke the pinkie finger on his throwing hand during a loss to Arizona on Oct. 12, but he practiced during the Cowboys' bye week and is expected to start Sunday night at Washington.

The Cowboys expect to have other important pieces back, too. Injured cornerback Terence Newman, left guard Kyle Kosier and running back Felix Jones all hope to play, and recently acquired wide receiver Roy Williams should be on the field.

It's a critical game for Dallas, which finds itself looking up at the front-running New York Giants and second-place Washington in the brutal NFC East. The Cowboys are a game back of the Redskins and lost to them earlier this year.

It'd be an opportune time for Owens to have a breakout performance, especially if he's matched up against cornerback DeAngelo Hall. Remember, Owens was fined $35,000 by the league in December 2006 for spitting in Hall's face during a game against his former team, the Atlanta Falcons. The two reportedly settled their feud later with Deion Sanders serving as a mediator.

"At the rate he's playing, I'm looking forward to a big day," Owens said, smiling. "I'm no stranger to playing against him. I've had success against him just as much as everybody else has, so if he's out there, I'm looking forward to playing him."

Owens was in New York for a whirlwind publicity trip that included an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman and a trip to the Sports Museum of America, where he donated a signed replica of his college jersey from Tennessee-Chattanooga.

Hundreds of fans also lined up outside the museum on a chilly, blustery morning to have Owens sign his book, "T.O.'s Finding Fitness." The book includes several workout routines for different levels of fitness, diet suggestions and inspirational stories.

"For the success I've had, it didn't come easy," Owens said. "You got to be motivated, especially for the young kids who want to be the next Derek Jeter, the next LeBron James, the next Kobe Bryant. That's what these guys did to get to this level."

The book also includes an explanation of his accidental overdose of pain medicine, how he's dealt with his own injuries and passages on overcoming adversity.

Adversity? Perhaps those are the sections his teammates ought to read.

"Everyone says we are out of the picture," Owens said, shaking his head. "There's seven games left. We're not counting ourselves out by any means."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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