Cowboys release K Folk, sign Suisham

BY foxsports • December 21, 2009

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."