IRVING, Texas (AP) -- The four-game winning streak is nice. So is
being first in the NFC East.
Still, the strongest proof yet that the Dallas Cowboys are a
completely new team under coach Bill Parcells lies in beating the
Philadelphia Eagles and how they did it: with big plays from the
opening kickoff to the closing minutes.
Dallas snapped a six-game losing streak against its division
rival Sunday with a 23-21 victory over Philadelphia on Billy
Cundiff's 28-yard field goal with 1:11 left.
The Cowboys started as well as possible, when Randal Williams
foiled an onside kick by returning it 37 yards for a touchdown.
Dallas was ahead after just three seconds, the fastest score to
begin a game since the NFL began using a scoreboard clock in 1970.
Dallas (4-1) hadn't just been losing often to the Eagles (2-3) --
it had been losing by a lot, an average of 25 points. The Cowboys
hadn't even scored an offensive touchdown in the team's last three
This time, when Dallas trailed for the first time with 4:14
left, the special teams and offense responded with the go-ahead
points, then the defense protected that edge.
"I thought we'd be well-prepared," Parcells said. "I could
tell. We did a lot of film work and our players were very
attentive. ... I'm real happy about my team."
This victory adds legitimacy to the Cowboys' start, their best
since 1995. Dallas next plays at Detroit with a chance to match its
win total from each of the last three seasons.
"This is a new era," Dallas quarterback Quincy Carter said.
"This is a new football team. Coach Parcells has brought a whole
new toughness to this team."
Question on the Eagles: Are the injuries the main problem or the lack of talent on offense?
The Eagles have made some changes over the past few seasons that are adversely affecting their current team. They've let quality players go and haven't replaced them with good players, while making bad draft picks. Right now, this is not a very good football team.
Question on the Cowboys: Are the Cowboys now the favorite to win the NFC East?
Yes. The Eagles and the Giants aren't playing good football, which is leaving the door wide open for the Cowboys to win the division. The Cowboys are playing excellent defense and doing a great job maximizing the strengths of their two great safeties. Offensively, Bill Parcells is accentuating the positives and minimizing the negatives of Quincy Carter.
Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.
Carter offset shaky numbers -- 14-of-25 for a season-low 146
yards -- with a blitz-beating, third-down pass to Joey Galloway that
kept alive the winning drive.
"It was the best feeling in the world," Glover said.
McNabb struggled all game, often overthrowing his targets. He
had only 53 yards passing midway through the third quarter, then
threw a 52-yard touchdown pass to Duce Staley.
"I hope we'll get better," said McNabb, who was 11-of-26 for
126 yards, his lowest total in a mediocre season. "We have to play
our season and see what happens."
Coming off two wins since an 0-2 start, the Eagles tried
generating early momentum with the surprise onside kick. It worked
three years ago, setting the tone for a 41-14 win in Dallas' first
game under then-coach Dave Campo.
"We thought we saw something during the week that we could take
advantage of," Philadelphia coach Andy Reid said. "It just didn't
Dallas special teams coach Bruce DeHaven told Williams to be
ready for it. DeHaven hadn't said that before any other game.
"I watched the kicker's approach. It was a little weird, so I
knew it was coming," Williams said.
The Eagles still could have taken control -- their first four
drives started near midfield. But they didn't even get a first down
the first three tries.
Philadelphia finally scored on the fourth, with Brian Westbrook
going in from the 5. He had only one more carry before leaving with
a bruised hip.
Cundiff hit a 51-yarder just before halftime to put Dallas ahead
10-7, then Troy Hambrick upped the lead with a 1-yard run late in
the third quarter. A 37-yard pass from halfback Aveion Cason to
Galloway set it up.
Philadelphia answered with Staley's TD pass to get within three.
Dallas came back, though, with Carter throwing a 49-yard pass to
Antonio Bryant on the next snap. But the drive stalled at the 4,
and instead of a potential putaway touchdown, Cundiff hit a 22-yard
field goal that made it 20-14.
The Eagles capitalized with a long, slow drive that ended with a
spinning, juking, 20-yard TD run by Correll Buckhalter.
Williams had the shortest kickoff return for a TD since
Buffalo's Henry Jones went the same distance in December 1999. ...
Philadelphia CB Troy Vincent, out since the opener with a hamstring
injury, returned and had an interception. ... Eagles WR Todd
Pinkston injured his knee and will have an MRI test.
Drew Brees smacks a couple of softball home runs during his teammate Tim Lelito's charity softball game.
The NFL says it is close but still has yet to interview the four players named along with Peyton Manning in a report five months ago that linked them to PEDs.
ESPNDallas columnist Jean-Jacques Taylor and NFL Nation reporter Todd Archer discuss what Randy Gregory needs to do to have a long future with the Cowboys, plus a Dez Bryant-Russell Westbrook comparison.
ESPN Bears reporter Jeff Dickerson discusses how Kevin White looked in Chicago's OTA on Wednesday.
ESPN Redskins reporter John Keim says Preston Smith and the defense, including safety DeAngelo Hall, had a big day against the offense Wednesday.
ESPN Browns reporter Pat McManamon explains that perennial Pro Bowl tackle knows the wear and tear on his body; if he needs a day off in OTAs and during the season, Cleveland Browns are wise to give it to him.