Mike Holmgren is expected to be in Dallas on Sunday hoping the Cleveland Browns can post their first road win in more than a year – and nothing more.
While the Super Bowl-winning coach and former Browns president insists he is not looking to take over the Cowboys, Jason Garrett and his Dallas team try to move back to .500 by handing Cleveland a franchise-record 12th straight road defeat.
Holmgren was ousted as team president by new owner Jimmy Haslam III last month but remains with the Browns in an advisory role until the end of the season. On Monday in front of the Cleveland media, he dismissed a report that he was interested in coaching the Cowboys (4-5) if Garrett is fired. The 64-year-old Holmgren is unsure if he even wants to coach again.
“I haven’t booked my tickets to Dallas,” joked Holmgren. “I haven’t talked to a single soul. That’s the first thing. The second thing is I honestly don’t know what the future holds or what I want to do. Believe me on that. Thirdly, I’ve always been, quite honestly, bothered by the speculation during the season when coaches are trying to work and they’re fighting like crazy for their jobs, and I would never do that.
“I would never do that to anybody. I have tremendous respect for Jason Garrett.”
Holmgren expects to run into Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on Sunday. The two served on the NFL’s competition committee and are good friends, but Holmgren said he has not expressed any interest to work with Jones. He also does not believe the latest rumor will be a distraction to the Browns, (2-7), who are coming off their bye week.
With Cleveland mired in another losing season and trying to win on the road for the first time since a 27-19 victory at Indianapolis on Sept. 18, 2011, coaching rumors involving another team are the least of the Browns’ concerns.
“There’s nothing that can distract us,” cornerback Joe Haden said. “We’ve been through it all.”
Dallas, meanwhile, is trying to win consecutive games for the first time this season after a 38-23 victory at Philadelphia last weekend. Holmgren’s statement and the Cowboys’ win might take some heat off Garrett, at least for the moment.
“Hey, look, it gets back to football, but you lose another game and there’s going to be more talk,” tight end Jason Witten said. “We know what’s at stake, and I thought it was big of our team to go find a way to win, and hopefully we’ll build on that.”
Tony Romo threw for two touchdowns, Felix Jones totaled 93 yards with a TD and the Cowboys scored two fourth-quarter TDs on defense and another on special teams. The victory left Dallas one behind the NFC East-leading New York Giants in the loss column.
“We know we have a shot. But we’re not looking around to see what everyone else is doing,” said cornerback Brandon Carr, who had a 47-yard interception return for a TD.
Though Dallas is trying to avoid losing three straight at home for the first time since a four-game slide in 2010, it plays three in a row and five of the final seven at Cowboys Stadium.
Romo enters Week 11 with a league-leading 13 interceptions but has none over the past two games, a span in which he’s completed 72.1 percent of his passes for 530 yards with three TDs. He was 24 of 32 for 320 yards with a touchdown during Dallas’ 28-10 win at Cleveland in 2008 when these teams last met.
Jones ran for 62 yards and a TD in that game and could make a fifth straight start Sunday in place of DeMarco Murray (foot). Jones has a combined 202 yards in the last two games and is facing a Cleveland run defense which ranks 27th, allowing 132.2 yards per contest.
Dallas hopes for another big defensive effort Sunday against a Cleveland team that has scored one touchdown over the last two games. Phil Dawson kicked five field goals in a 25-15 loss to Baltimore on Nov. 4.
Brandon Weeden has completed 48.4 percent of his passes with no TDs in the last two games after throwing for six touchdowns in the previous three.
Despite a rib injury, fellow rookie Trent Richardson has been one of few offensive bright spots of late with 227 rushing yards and Cleveland’s lone TD in the last two contests.