After lucky win, Cowboys tied for best record in NFC

Updated: November 3, 2003, 7:11 PM ET
ESPN

IRVING, Texas -- Bill Parcells still was puzzled about how his Cowboys won their sixth game of the season.

After watching the film Monday, Dallas' coach couldn't figure out how a team that had two touchdowns nullified by penalties and was minus-4 in turnovers beat Washington.

"I can't explain to you why things were the way they were. I really can't," Parcells said. "I can't ever recall seeing a game like that. You have to be fortunate."

Then again, as Parcells pointed out, there's no asterisk by the 21-14 win over the turnover-free Redskins. It counts the same as a perfectly played blowout victory would.

No matter how they did it, the Cowboys moved to 6-2 halfway through their first season under Parcells. They are tied for the NFC's best record and they've already beaten all three division foes.

Dallas returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, but Derek Ross' 101-yard run was negated by a holding penalty. The Cowboys then had three turnovers their first six plays, and a 35-yard TD catch wiped out by another flag.

"We got lucky," quarterback Quincy Carter said. "We could be talking about a whole different scenario."

Instead, the Cowboys are off to a winning start in November, a five-game stretch that Parcells has dubbed as "Showtime." They'll know after their remaining games this month against Buffalo, New England, Carolina and Miami if they're ready to compete for their first NFC East title since 1998.

While Parcells insists he's not amazed about being 6-2, he's still not ready to call the Cowboys legitimate playoff contenders. But he does know what it will take to get back to the postseason.

"I just know if you win your division, you get to go. That's the easiest way," he said. "I'll have to wait and see. Too much time left, too much to overcome, too much to prove. We could lose all eight of our remaining games.

"By the same token, having beaten all three teams in the division, I think you feel that if you play well you'll have a chance to do that."

By rebounding from a shutout loss at Tampa Bay, even with one more giveaway, the Cowboys surpassed their win total from each of the last three seasons.

"We can't play like we did in the last two weeks and expect to be 12-4," tight end Dan Campbell said. "But it speaks volumes of our character and heart."

And the impact of Parcells, who has said since he took the job in January that he was too old to lose.

"Guys are listening to him. Guys are paying attention," said defensive tackle La'Roi Glover. "However you get to 6-2, it doesn't matter. We ain't looking back. We're putting wins in the bag."

That's the Parcells philosophy. His concern is what is to come, not what has happened.

"This is a critical time of the season for us," Parcells said. "Hopefully, we can keep playing good enough to win, better maybe than we have."<

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