IRVING, Texas -- Over the next three Sundays, the
Dallas Cowboys can go a long way toward reclaiming supremacy in the NFC
So it's only fitting their path begins in Philadelphia, home to
the division champion five of the past six seasons.
Dallas goes in 6-1 and leading the division. The Eagles are 3-4
and in last place, but quarterback Donovan McNabb still believes
Philadelphia is the team to beat.
"In order for you to be a champion, you have to beat the
champion," he said. "In the division, if you're the defending
champion and have been for a numerous amount of years specifically,
in order for you to become the champion of that division, you have
to beat the champion."
Cowboys safety Roy Williams took exception to McNabb's point of view.
"Right now, they are in no position to talk about 'Everything
goes through Philly.' Some teams went to Philly and they beat
them," Williams said. "No one is worried about, 'You have to go
through Philly.' You have to go through Dallas, you have to go
through Washington and you have to go through New York, too.
Everybody feels they are the best. Right now, it's just about how
you play on the field that proves you are the best."
Reminded about the Eagles' recent dominance over Dallas -- two
straight wins, five of seven and 11 of 14 -- Williams dismissed that, too.
"They are another team that's in our way of reaching our
goals," he said.
The others are the New York Giants (6-2) and the Washington
Redskins (4-3). Dallas plays at New York a week from Sunday, then
the Redskins visit Texas Stadium the following Sunday.
Cowboys coach Wade Phillips brought up McNabb's
road-goes-through-Philadelphia speech on Monday. He claimed he
doesn't consider it bulletin-board material -- "I mean, I think
he's stating the fact," Phillips said -- but ... how can it not be?
Phillips certainly didn't bring it up to try intimidating his
players. If anything, it's a dangling carrot: You want us to come get? OK.
"We know we've got to go up there and win," tight end Jason
Witten said Thursday. "This team is up for that challenge."
Witten added, "Hopefully we can make that transition.''
Linebacker Greg Ellis still considers Philadelphia the beast of
the East. That should be expected from the longest-tenured Cowboys
player; he's lost more games against the Eagles than any other team.
Ellis said one of the most painful losses of his career was the 2000 opener, when Philadelphia came to Texas Stadium and used a
game-opening onside kick to set the tone for a 41-14 victory. That
game also is often remembered for the Eagles beating the heat with
pickle juice -- some of which they spit at Dallas players, Ellis
So beating Philadelphia, as rare as it is, always means a lot to Ellis.
"If you look at it, you're going to say, this is the year," he
said. "You've got to remember, Philadelphia is not going to lay
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.