If the Cowboys are to win and reach the postseason, their three primary wide receivers must be more of a factor, Calvin Watkins wrote in today's Dallas Morning News.

"If we do the necessary things," former Eagle Terrell Owens said. "If Tony [Romo] has the time and we get holes for guys who run the ball effectively and Tony can pass effectively, we can't be stopped."

Poor route running, bad throws, inadequate protection and the weather can slow an offense.

In last week's loss to Baltimore, Romo overthrew a wide-open Miles Austin on a route that could have led to a touchdown. In the Pittsburgh game, Romo missed several open receivers, including Patrick Crayton on fourth down of the Cowboys' last possession, Watkins wrote.

Owens cut short a route in the Ravens loss, and Roy Williams virtually has disappeared in the last three games. A foot injury that limits how much he can practice could explain his problems, according to the Dallas article.

Romo said Pittsburgh and Baltimore showed coverages he's never seen before, causing him to hold the ball too long or hurry throws while he tried to read the defense.

"I think every year that goes on, [defenses] come up with new little things that just attack," Romo said. "That's why you try to run the football. . . .

"If you can run the ball, usually it can get you out of that junk a little bit, so we'll try to run the ball this week and get after Philadelphia a little bit."

After the loss in Pittsburgh, Crayton, Williams and Owens met separately with offensive coordinator Jason Garrett to express concern about the offense.

Since then, Crayton and Owens said they have seen some positive results.

Williams is not so happy.

"For me, I'm still doing the same stuff," he said. "I'm not saying I want the ball every play, but just to be involved in the game, that's what I'm used to. As long as we win, I don't care; when we lose, that's when I get frustrated."

In a Dec. 14 win over the New York Giants, Romo completed passes to a season-high nine players. The Cowboys had 321 yards of offense against the league's sixth-ranked defense, Watkins noted.

"When the ball is distributed like that, we get Ws," Crayton said. "Against Philly, we all have to be contributors. It has to be spread out. It they are doubling somebody, it's got to go somewhere else. If they want to play some zone, hit the hole in the zone - don't matter who it is - and keep it going from there."

"We're going into this game where we have to win - there is no more excuses, no more about pointing fingers and this and that," Owens said. "We just have to go out and play football."

Santa's elf

The Detroit Red Wings figure they have a direct line to Santa Claus, thanks to teammate Tomas Holmstrom.

Holmstrom is a native of northern Sweden, not far from the North Pole.

"Usually this time of year, all the guys come to me and they say, 'Homer, can you take this Christmas list and give it to Santa?' " Holmstrom said in the Christmas edition of the Detroit Free Press. "And I do that."

Holmstrom is from Pitea, a city less than 200 miles from the Arctic Circle. After years of watching Holmstrom endure crosschecks and slashes, teammate Kris Draper thinks he has an explanation for his toughness: "Seal skin. Homer's got seal skin."

The veteran forward is known around the NHL for battling in front of the net, drawing penalties, and scoring timely goals. Holmstrom has 10 this season and is on track for at least 20 for a fourth consecutive season.

"Absolutely, this is a very exciting time of year for him," Draper said. "We all get excited, but I'm sure Homer gets a little bit more excited about it, living so close to the North Pole and knowing Santa Claus."

No word on whether the Red Wings' wishes were granted.

This article contains information from Inquirer wire services.