Cowboys release K Folk, sign Suisham

The Dallas Cowboys are two wins from bringing a playoff game to

their new $1.2 billion showplace. They’re also two losses from

possibly extending the longest playoff victory drought in franchise

history, which might spark a search for the sixth coach since that

last postseason win nearly 14 years ago.

It would be easy for the Cowboys to get blinded by the bright

side after handing New Orleans its first loss Saturday night. Coach

Wade Phillips was quick to recognize that Monday.

“You’ve still got to back it up and play the next one just as

well,” Phillips said. “We played well in a lot of areas. We still

have some work to do.”

First on the list before Sunday night’s visit to Washington

was cutting kicker Nick Folk after he missed a late 24-yarder that

forced the Dallas defense to secure the 24-17 win by making one

more stop against one of the league’s most dangerous offenses.

It was the sixth straight game with at least one miss by

Folk, which finally forced the team to hold auditions Monday for a

replacement. Late in the day, Dallas signed former Redskins kicker

Shaun Suisham and released Folk.

As well as linebacker DeMarcus Ware played just a week after

a frightening neck injury, the Cowboys still have to evaluate his

health daily and decide whether he can return to playing every

down.

Ware practiced sparingly last week and was limited mostly to

passing situations against the Saints. Phillips said he thinks the

playing rotations will return to normal against the Redskins.

“He went back in the game in regular situations,” Phillips

said. “He felt good enough to do that and did that.”

Before Folk’s miss put the outcome in question, receiver Roy

Williams ruined a chance for Dallas to answer the first Saints

touchdown when he dropped a third-down pass near midfield early in

the fourth quarter. Less than four minutes later, New Orleans

(13-1) scored to pull within 24-17.

Critical drops by Williams are magnified because he cost

Dallas three draft picks and a $45 million contract extension a

year ago. But Phillips flatly rejected a question Monday about

whether Williams might be headed to the bench.

“I think we still have hopes that the things we see in

practice more and more are going to happen,” Phillips said. “He’s

going to keep working at it, and we’re going to keep working at

it.”

The last time the Cowboys felt this good was the last time

they won a big game. Their 20-16 victory at Philadelphia in early

November gave them a four-game winning streak and sole possession

of first place in the NFC East.

That roll even prompted questions about Dallas playing a

“trap” game in Green Bay because the Packers were 4-4 and coming

off a loss to lowly Tampa Bay. The Cowboys promptly played their

worst offensive game of the season in a 17-7 loss.

This time, the last-place Redskins are on tap.

“We’re going to go over the film today, and we’re going to be

hard on them for the mistakes they made,” Phillips said. “They

realize there’s things we could have done better and there’s things

that cause you to play your best to win. And that’s every game,

whoever you’re playing.”

If the Cowboys (9-5) win in Washington, they will finish the

regular season at home against Philadelphia (10-4) with a chance to

win the NFC East and host a playoff game at Cowboys Stadium a week

later.

The stakes won’t be as high as the finale last year, when

Dallas was trounced by the Eagles in Philadelphia with the NFC’s

final playoff berth on the line. But for a team that risked losing

control of its playoff fate if it had lost in New Orleans, it will

be quite a turnaround.

“I told them before the game it’d be an upset if we got beat.

And that’s what we felt like,” Phillips said. “I think we can build

on that. That’s the kind of game that define you as far as

confidence.”