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Cowboys, Skins differ over root of wayward snaps

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IRVING, Texas (AP)

Those wayward snaps from Phil Costa to Tony Romo have become a political football.

The Cowboys have accused the Redskins of causing Costa's itchy trigger finger by mimicking Romo's cadence, essentially tricking the new center into thinking the quarterback was calling for the ball before he actually was. The culprit was thought to be Washington defensive end Stephen Bowen, who spent the last five seasons in Dallas.

''I think certainly the NFL understands what was going on and they're trying to address it and handle it the right way,'' Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Monday.

League spokesman Greg Aiello said via email, ''Our communication on that will be with the team.''

The Redskins, meanwhile, accuse the Cowboys of making up the whole thing. Washington coach Mike Shanahan says there's proof.

''The center is miked, and when the center is miked, you go back in audio and you'll find out if one of our players did say a snap count,'' Shanahan said. ''And they did not.''

Bowen was especially peeved about being dragged into this.

''You ask the guys in Dallas. They know my character,'' he said. ''I've never been that type of guy. I just line up and play ball.''

Bowen said he knew during the game that the Cowboys were making the allegations because, ''the ref came to us and said, `Are (you) giving fake snap counts?'''

''I looked at (nose tackle) Barry (Cofield), like: 'Did you make a noise?''' Bowen said. ''He was like, 'I didn't make a noise. I didn't even hear anything.'''

Bowen suggested that Costa is ''trying to make excuses for him messing up.''

''I lost a lot of respect for Costa,'' Bowen said. ''Just be a man and tell the truth. If that was the case, if we were making snap counts, how come no other offensive linemen jumped offsides? It makes no sense because he's lying. He just needs to be a man and stand by his word. Everybody respects a man who could tell the truth.''

Costa misfired on four snaps, two that sailed past Romo and two that were tough for him to catch.

Undrafted out of college, Costa made the Cowboys last season and started one game at guard as an injury fill-in. He played so well at center during training camp that Dallas booted Pro Bowl regular Andre Gurode to hand him the job, even though he was dealing with a knee injury. The knee has sidelined him some this season, one of many injuries along the line and throughout the Cowboys' offense.

Romo has the most severe injury, a broken rib. That makes it even more important for the lineman to keep him from getting hit - or for him to be chasing and falling on bad snaps, much less having to reach awkwardly for them.

Asked Wednesday if there were other issues behind Costa's misfires, Garrett said, ''I think it was the noise.''

Costa declined to speak with reporters Wednesday. On Tuesday, in an interview with the local ESPN Radio affiliate, he said absolved Bowen, but said that the Redskins' defensive linemen were ''barking a little bit.''

''Either way, it is on me,'' Costa said.

Snapgate accusations aside, the Cowboys also have been consistent in saying they need to make sure such a problem never happens again. They had speakers at practice cranking out noise to help them work on hand signals for times when the crowd - or opponents - drown out verbal signals.

''We need to be able to handle that situation, and we'll do a better job of that going forward,'' Garrett said. ''A lot of times there's noise at the line of scrimmage and we need to be able to decipher what's our noise and what's their noise.''

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AP Sports Writer Joseph G. White in Ashburn, Va., contributed to this report.

Tagged: Cowboys, Redskins, Tony Romo, Stephen Bowen, Phil Costa

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