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Parcells: 'We were just awful'

IRVING, Texas -- Bill Parcells isn't having trouble
expressing his emotions about his team this time.

The Dallas Cowboys coach went from pure elation to bitter
disappointment -- in just five days.

With the traditional Thanksgiving Day game providing an
opportunity to showcase all they have accomplished in their first
season under Parcells, the Cowboys struggled in every aspect of the
game and lost 40-21 to Miami. The Dolphins led throughout.

"I'm a little embarrassed by this ... go out here on
Thanksgiving in a national game and play like this," Parcells
said. "We were just awful, we really were."

The Cowboys were coming off an impressive 24-20 win over
Carolina that put them in a four-way tie for the NFC's best record. The
coach was so proud after Sunday's game that he choked up and
couldn't express to his players just how much the win meant.

After the debacle against the Dolphins, he's not so sure about
his team anymore.

"We've still got a lot on the line and I don't know whether we
can do it or not," Parcells said. "I thought after last week we
might be able to, but after this, I'm not sure. It's typical of
being a young team, you get on a seesaw and sometimes you can't get
off."

The Cowboys (8-4) have lost three of six following a five-game
winning streak. They were shut out for the other two losses in the
stretch.

"We can't let this beat us into the ground," tight end Dan Campbell said. "This is the push now. This is it, this is what it
is all about, to get to the month of December with a chance to get
in the playoffs. Even after as bad as we played, that's what we
have."

Dallas plays three of its last four games on the road -- its next is Dec. 7 at Philadelphia.

Philadelphia has a half-game lead over the Cowboys in the NFC
East. The Eagles, who are at Carolina on Sunday, have won six
straight since losing Oct. 12 at Dallas.

Parcells still won't say the "P-word," but he knows what the
Cowboys have to do to make the playoffs for the first time since 1999.

"We've got to probably win two out of four to get into the
tournament," he said, adding they will have to win three or maybe
all four remaining games for their first division title in five
seasons.

"We still have a good opportunity," he said, "but frankly if
we don't play a lot better than we played, it won't make any
difference about the opportunity."

The Cowboys are assured of at least finishing .500 after three
straight 5-11 seasons before Parcells. The loss to Miami prevented
nine pre-December wins for the first time since 1995, the season of
their last Super Bowl championship.

From the game's first play, Miami took advantage -- of a 30-yard pass interference penalty. Jay Fielder's 1-yard plunge made the
Dolphins the first opponent in 22 games with a touchdown on an opening drive against Dallas. After the Cowboys got to 17-14, the
Dolphins answered when Fiedler threw the second of his three TD passes to Chris Chambers with 10 seconds left in the first half.
Then on the third play of the second half, Quincy Carter fumbled, and Jason Taylor returned it 34 yards for a touchdown.

"Just like you can't let a big win dictate how the rest of your season is going to go, you can't let an embarrassing loss do the
same," defensive tackle La'Roi Glover said. "We've still got a shot."

Notes: OT Flozell Adams blocked his third extra point of the season ... Carter's 42 yards rushing were a career high. ... The five sacks allowed by Dallas was a season high. ... Rookie TE Jason Witten had team-high eight catches, matching the most by a Dallas tight end since Eric Bjornson caught eight at San Francisco on Nov. 10, 1996. ... The Cowboys aren't scheduled to practice again until Tuesday.