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Cowboys still lead NFC East

11/3/2003
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IRVING, Texas (AP) -- Bill Parcells challenged the Dallas Cowboys
by telling them, "It's showtime." They responded by having two
touchdowns erased by penalties, throwing two interceptions and
losing two fumbles -- all before halftime.

"It was a complete nightmare," Parcells said.

Question on the Redskins: Do you really see Steve Spurrier out of the picture after this season?
Because his owner is Daniel Snyder, Spurrier's departure is a possibility. There was a belief at the beginning of Spurrier's tenure that he could innovate the NFL with his offensive philosophy. Those ridiculously high expectations haven't come close to being met, and that may be the impetus for Spurrier's departure.

Question on the Cowboys: Is this the best defense in the NFC East?
Yes, and Roy Williams is the reason. Williams bring an amazing amount of intensity and playmaking skill to the secondary and the rest of the defense. He blitzes well and plays his position as well as anyone in the league. Right now, he's been such an impact player that I feel he's the defensive MVP of the league. He's probably the most intimidating safety in the league for a receiver to come across the middle on, and he makes people around him better.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

But these are not the Cowboys who went 5-11 each of the past
three seasons. With Troy Hambrick and Terry Glenn atoning for early
mistakes, and the Washington Redskins failing to take advantage of
them, Dallas won 21-14 Sunday for its sixth victory in seven games.

The Cowboys (6-2) improved to 3-0 against division foes to
tighten their grip on the NFC East. Dallas also rebounded from a
shutout loss to Tampa Bay by opening its crucial November stretch
with a victory -- albeit an ugly one.

"I'm just happy to be where we are now," Parcells said. "Hey,
we're going to have to play a lot better than we did today if we're
going to do something."

The rest of this month, the Cowboys play Buffalo, New England,
Carolina and Miami -- teams that are a combined 21-11. The run will
show whether Dallas can win the division for the first time since
1998 or miss the playoffs -- which Denver, San Diego and New Orleans
did after starting 6-2 last season.

"Parcells has changed things around," said safety Darren
Woodson, the lone holdover from Dallas' three Super Bowl
championship teams of the 1990s. "Guys are believing."

Hambrick, who had the two early fumbles, finished with 100 yards
and two short touchdown runs. Glenn made up for some awful drops,
including one that led to Washington's first touchdown, with a nice
catch-and-run for a 19-yard TD that gave Dallas breathing room
early in the fourth quarter. He also sealed the victory with a
47-yard run on a reverse in the closing minutes.

Washington (3-5), coming off a bye week, lost its fourth
straight and fifth in six games. The Redskins were so bad that the
Fun 'n' Gun offense had just 11 yards in the first quarter and
minus-11 yards passing at halftime, leaving coach Steve Spurrier
grimacing and gripping his visor.

"I'm not going to get on my players any more this season,"
Spurrier said. "We are what we are."

Patrick Ramsey was 16-of-30 for 147 yards and continued to take
a pounding, leaving twice with injuries to his non-throwing hand.
Backup Tim Hasselbeck, throwing for the first time in his NFL
career, went 2-of-3 for 20 yards.

The Redskins found themselves relying on their fourth-string
running back.

"It's bad now," linebacker Jessie Armstead said, "but it can
always be worse."

Dallas beat Washington for the 11th time in 12 meetings and
eighth straight at home, much to the dismay of Redskins owner Dan
Snyder, who watched from a luxury box.

Spurrier did little to impress his boss. In addition to
play-calling that didn't work, several decisions backfired.

He declined a penalty so Dallas would have third-and-long, but
the Cowboys converted and scored their second touchdown on that
drive. Then, after Ramsey threw a 19-yard touchdown pass and a
2-point conversion with 2:30 left, Spurrier opted not to try an
onside kick, hoping his defense could hold. It couldn't, getting
tricked by Glenn's reverse.

It was a fitting end to a game filled with wackiness:

-- Dallas returned the opening kickoff 101 yards for a touchdown,
but it was erased by a penalty. So was a 35-yard TD pass to Glenn.

-- The Cowboys' first three drives ended in a long interception,
a fumble by Hambrick, and another interception when Glenn rolled
over trying to control a catch, but instead flipped the ball to
Washington safety Ifeanyi Ohalete.

-- Two plays later, the Redskins got a 7-yard touchdown pass from
Ramsey to Laveranues Coles. The extra point was blocked.

-- The Cowboys appeared to get within 6-3 on a 22-yard field
goal, but Washington's Antonio Pierce was flagged for
unsportmanlike conduct; officials said he was "jamming signals."
Given a first down at the 2, Hambrick scored.

-- Both teams had faulty flea flickers in the first quarter.<
^Notes: Dallas' Quincy Carter was 17-of-33 for 196 yards. ... Coles'
TD ended a four-game drought. ... RB Chad Morton joined Ladell
Betts and Trung Canidate in sick bay, making Rock Cartwright the
featured back. He had 44 yards on eight carries. ... Dallas RB
Adrian Murrell played for the first time since the 2000 finale;
Washington DT Darrell Russell was back after 1{ seasons.