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Published:April 16th, 2009 17:53 EST
Cowboys Have a Breakdown on the Gridiron

Cowboys Have a Breakdown on the Gridiron

By Christopher HIllenbrand

The Dallas Cowboys will play their NFC East rivals, the New York Giants, in their first home game in their new $1.1 billion stadium before millions of Sunday Night football fans.

Known by many as "America`s favorite football team", the Dallas Cowboys have six nationally televised games: the most for any NFL team.

With the team`s release of 13-year veteran and perennial Pro-Bowler Terrell Owens, many debated whether the Cowboys would draw as much attention as when the showboating star was a weekly figure of controversy as Dallas` premier wide out.

The Cowboys faced the New York Giants twice last season, going 1 for 2 with the victories awarded to the team with home field advantage.

Brad Johnson started for the injured Tony Romo in the Cowboys` loss to the Giants, at home, in Week 9. Dallas` defensive line faltered against the Giants` passing game as New York QB Eli Manning completed three touchdown passes in the first half of the game. The Giants` offense then trounced the Cowboys by the end of the fourth quarter 35-14, on the strength of a versatile running game that scored three touchdowns in the second half.

A fully recuperated Tony Romo made the difference in Dallas` win against New York on Week 15 of the 2008 NFL season. After obtaining great field position, Romo engineered a drive resulting in a touchdown connection right out the gate. The Cowboys reconfigured their defense following their embarrassing loss to the Giants, and got to Manning early and often. Dallas sacked Eli Manning a total of eight times, tempering their passing threat and causing the Giants to resort to an ineffective ground game. The Giants caught a lucky break when they scored a safety on an error committed by Dallas` offensive line, but eventually fell 20-8. That victory would be Dallas` last ever registered at Texas Stadium preceding a dismal finish to a season in which they lost their last regular season game against the Philadelphia Eagles: dashing any hopes for a playoff berth.

Without the mercurial Owens who generated more discomfort between the teams` players than production, the Dallas Cowboys are hoping to bounce back with a healthy Tony Romo at the helm of the offense and are anticipating a strong standing in the NFC East.

The NFL revealed the 2009 regular-season schedule on Tuesday, with many of the league`s favorite rivalies factoring prominently into the schedule.

The reigning Super Bowl winning Pittsburgh Steelers faces their interdivision adversaries, the Baltimore Ravens, twice towards the end of the season on November 29th and December 27th. The Steelers, that had the second best record in the AFC at 12-4, start off their 2009 campaign against the Tennessee Titans, the team that compiled the best record in the AFC with 13-3. In Week 15 of the 2008 season, the Tennessee Titans prevailed over their AFC North rival Steelers 31-14.

The NFC Champion Arizona Cardinals, that bowed to Pittsburgh`s miraculous comeback in the Super Bowl, will be featured three times on network television when they meet Indianapolis at home on September 27th, the Giants on October 25th, and the 49ers on December 14th.

In Week 1 of the upcoming season, the New England Patriots hope to see Tom Brady starting at QB when they court the Buffalo Bills and Terrell Owens debuting for his new team. New England plans to continue that long-standing feud with the Indianapolis Colts on November 15th. The Patriots are slated to face the Denver Broncos under their new head coach Josh McDaniels, on December 6th and January 3rd. McDaniels, who is coming off a stint as the Patriots` former offensive coordinator and quarterbacks` coach, received some criticism for his questionable decision involving Broncos` QB Jay Cutler in a three-team trade talk that would`ve brought Matt Cassel to Denver. Cutler claimed he was unaware of the trade discussions until after they had already begun, and since his falling out with McDaniels, he got his wish in being traded to the Chicago Bears.

The Bears are scheduled to play five nationally televised games with their pickup of the Pro-Bowl QB Jay Cutler.

It took more than 1.3 million different schedule variations before the NFL decided on 3,500 that were complete. The front office deliberated on the results, which was brought down to 60 originally, before they agreed on a schedule that was the most beneficial to all teams in both conferences.

As a part of their new computer-based scheduling system, the NFL succeeded in only scheduling two teams to each play three consecutive games on the road, which became problematic in the past when eight teams had that same rigorous "away" streak. This year, only the Seattle Seahawks and the Giants are set to be away from home for three straight games.

Teams that play a Thursday night game which doesn`t follow a bye week, are scheduled to play at home the weekend prior to their Thursday contest.