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A SURE THING: COWBOYS KICK PACKERS, AGAIN

A SURE THING: COWBOYS KICK PACKERS, AGAIN

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Death, taxes, the Green Bay Packers.

Clearly, the Cowboys know a sure thing when they're visited by one. How many in a row is that now?As far as the Cowboys are concerned, the Packers are the next best thing to having a convention come to town. Easy pickings. A cheese convention?

Offering minimal resistance, the Packers succumbed yet again Monday night, 21-6. The Cowboys' defense was so stifling, so dominating, it sucked the life and the expected din out of what was supposed to be the season's premier ``Monday Night Football' matchup.

Field goal, anyone?

The Cowboys' seemingly annual scrum with Mike Holmgren's team amounted to last year's reruns. And the reruns before that, and the reruns before that.

It goes like this: You game-plan the Packers into submission. You throw enough defensive backs into the underbrush to paint the Green Bay receivers into a thicket. You practically dare the Packers to run. And, in so doing, you fluster quarterback Brett Favre.

On offense, the Cowboys followed suit by stepping off enough yards to let Chris Boniol kick an NFL record-tying seven field goals. The Packers didn't appreciate being added as a footnote.

With 20 seconds to play, coach Barry Switzer sent Boniol onto the field to attempt the record kick. The points prompted angry finger pointing from the Packers and a goodwill party of Reggie White, LeRoy Butler, George Koonce and Wayne Simmons stalking toward the Cowboys bench.

Benches emptied. Arms tangled and chests were pushed. It made for great theater, this notion of Coach Boomer cast in the role of Sugar Ray Switzer.

``I wouldn't deny my own son, your son, anybody's son a chance at an NFL record,' Switzer said in his own team's defense.

With his voice steadily rising, Switzer boomered, ``Someone has to make the decision. I made the decision! And he darn sure deserved it tonight, because he won the game with his darn foot!'

The Packers were not likely to be so understanding. Switzer, no doubt, will be skewered by the national media. The Packers will vow revenge.

But, what? The Cowboys worry?

If the Packers showed as much spunk in the first 59 minutes as they did during the field-goal shovefest, they wouldn't have been spanked by 15 points.

``You can't have sympathy for anyone in this league,' Switzer said, correctly. ``You have to be ready to play. And we'll be ready to play next time we play them.'

Next time? Sure. It's a habit.

With Emmitt Smith prancing to 76 of his liveliest yards of the season and with quarterback Troy Aikman stitching together a foolproof first half, the Cowboys, indeed, made it look like an old habit.

Once again, Packers. This is your brain. (Crack egg on skillet here). And this is your brain when you play the Cowboys.

All due credit should and likely will go to defensive coordinator Dave Campo and his staff. Campo's defense, shuffled by free agency in the off-season, has been this surging team's strength, its rock of dependability.

Scratch injured starters Charles Haley and Brock Marion, and Campo did it again Monday night. For the first 39 minutes of the game, Favre and the Packers ventured into Dallas territory only once.

Green Bay, granted, is hurting. Its jackrabbit start this season has been knocked off its rails by injuries to both starting wide-outs, Robert Brooks and Antonio Freeman.

But to offer excuses would be to betray the job the Cowboys defense performed. Favre was unable to exploit his old teammate, George Teague, who filled in for Marion. The Cowboys made Favre struggle for every one of his 194 passing yards.

The ensuing rubble suggests that the Packers are yesterday's news. The hottest team in the NFC is the Cowboys. Toss out Aikman's ill-advised pass against the Eagles, and Switzer's bunch would be on a seven-game winning streak.

They may still trail the Packers in the dash for NFC home-field playoff advantage, but neither Switzer nor his team is likely to worry about a January date in frigid Wisconsin.

Death, taxes, the Green Bay Packers.

Field goal, anyone?

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