Cowboys already matched wins of last three years with Parcells

Updated: October 20, 2003, 9:45 PM ET

IRVING, Texas -- Bill Parcells may not be convinced the Dallas Cowboys are a good team, but they've already matched their win total from each of the last three seasons.

They've shot back to the top of the NFC East.

And they've done it in just six games under Parcells.

"We've got a long way to go. You guys are so far ahead. We've got so much to do," Parcells said Monday. "A lot of people don't, but I have a realistic perception."

Forget perception. The reality is the Cowboys (5-1) have a five-game winning streak, their first in the same season since 1994, and a two-game division lead over second-place Philadelphia, a team they've already beaten.

Still, Parcells seems to get more negative even as the wins pile up. Take his response a day after what seemed a dominating 38-7 win over the Lions after losing games in Detroit the last two seasons.

Parcells lamented about 10 runs for minus yards; a 5.9-yard average on punt returns; an offside penalty; a fumble that Detroit returned for the first touchdown; and a timeout because of miscommunication on offense.

"When you guys evaluate the game and are writing about the game and we lost, I tell you it wasn't quite as bad as it seems," Parcells said. "Well, this one wasn't quite as good as it seems."

Winning breeds confidence, but not contentment. Especially when Parcells is the coach.

"He reminds us of what it takes and not to get too complacent," said offensive tackle Ryan Young, who played for Parcells with the New York Jets. "Some things have gone our way, a little luck, a little perseverance."

Even Parcells admits luck is probably part of the 5-1 start.

Dallas trailed the Giants at New York 32-29 after a field goal with 11 seconds left in Week 2. But New York's kickoff went out of bounds, giving the Cowboys the ball at their 40.

A 26-yard pass and Billy Cundiff's 52-yard field goal sent the game into overtime, when the Cowboys won on Cundiff's seventh field goal.

After the Lions returned a fumble for a 7-0 lead Sunday, Cowboys running back Aveion Cason fumbled on the next drive. But Dallas recovered to keep alive a game-tying TD drive.

"If they had recovered the fumble and been up 14-0, we would have found out all about ourselves," Parcells said. "It would have all been answered."

Instead, the Cowboys turned the game into a rare rout. Their other four wins are by a combined 33 points.

The Cowboys play Sunday at defending champion Tampa Bay (3-3), and face division leaders New England and Carolina in the next month.

So far, none of the teams they've beaten have a winning record and their combined record is 8-21. Atlanta (1-6), which like Philadelphia and both New York teams made the playoffs last season, hasn't won since beating Dallas in the opener.

"Now that we've won some games, that doesn't mean they weren't hard," Parcells said. "We are going to be in a lot of hard games."

For now, Parcells seems to be in the perfect position. He's winning and still has plenty of things he's not happy about with his team.

"I know what takes you down in this game. We've got a lot of things to work on here," Parcells said. "But it's better to be working on them with a positive environment. I know we're going to have some crisis here during the season. We could lose four or five in a row. That could happen, and we still wouldn't be out of the race.

"We'll see where we go. It's interesting." ^Notes:@ Kickoff for Dallas' Nov. 2 home game against Washington has been moved from noon to 3:15 p.m. The switch was made to accommodate the Fox network's broadcast of the game. ... Parcells said the 14-play, 81-yard TD drive the Cowboys had to start the second half Sunday was the best of the season. It was time-consuming, taking 7{ minutes and stretching the lead to 35-7. ... But the best thing about the game, according to Parcells, was allowing Detroit just three offensive plays in the third quarter. ... Billy Cundiff made a 53-yard field goal in the first quarter, but after a personal foul penalty against the Lions, the Cowboys took the points off the board. "They say you're not supposed to do that. I've done it about 10 times," he said. Dallas went on to score a tying touchdown.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index