FOXBORO, Mass. (AP) -- Between a pregame cold shoulder and a
postgame lukewarm hug, Bill Belichick showed his old boss how
defense is really played.
Sticking to their game plan of playing down their relationship,
neither coach stressed it after the Patriots had three
interceptions and outplayed the Cowboys' top-ranked defense.
"Bill congratulated me on the win and I told him I thought he
had a good football team," Belichick said of their midfield
embrace. "I wished him luck and I do."
Although they stayed at opposite ends of the field during
warmups, Parcells shot down the idea that he dislikes Belichick,
who resigned as New York Jets coach on Jan. 4, 2000, one day after
succeeding Parcells, who planned to remain in the front office.
"I'm about tired of talking about that kind of thing. The guy
did a hell of a job for me for a long time," Parcells said.
"People in the media can try and drive a stake between us if they
want to, but that's not going to happen on my point."
"I think it was a big win for him," Bruschi said. "If I
worked for a coach at one time or was on that staff I'd want to
beat him, too. It's just common sense."
The Patriots, helped by two long passes by a mostly ineffective
Tom Brady and 10 penalties against the Cowboys, had enough offense
to win their sixth straight game and give Belichick a 3-2 career
record over Parcells.
New England (8-2) maintained its two-game lead over Miami in the
AFC East. Dallas, 7-3 after three 5-11 seasons, dropped into a
first-place tie with Philadelphia in the NFC East as Parcells,
whose Cowboys beat two of his former teams -- the Giants and Jets --
in his first season with Dallas failed to make it a sweep.
"We're still in first place and not many people thought we
could be there 10 weeks into the season," Parcells said. "We have
an opportunity. Whether we are good enough to take advantage of
that I don't know."
Adam Vinatieri kicked a 23-yard field goal in the first quarter
and Antowain Smith scored on a 2-yard run in the second. Then the
Patriots' defense dominated with three interceptions in the second
half, and Vinatieri finished it with a 26-yard field goal with 1:56
"In these types of games, you can't make mistakes and today we
made them," Dallas quarterback Quincy Carter said.
The shutout was New England's first in 130 games, although the
Patriots beat Cleveland 9-3 in their eighth game this year. They
then beat Denver, the NFL's second-ranked defense at the time,
30-26 before taking last weekend off.
"It just goes right down the board," Belichick said. "You
can't single anybody out, good team defense."
The Patriots were the toughest opponent so far on a weak
schedule for the Cowboys, who have five wins against teams with
Dallas was blanked for the second time in 22 days and has scored
31 points in its last four games. Terry Glenn, in his first year
with Dallas, was held to one catch for eight yards in his return to
New England, where he played six seasons.
Parcells coached the Patriots from 1993 to 1996, taking them to
the Super Bowl in his last season, when they lost to Green Bay.
Belichick was his assistant on two Giants teams that Parcells led
to Super Bowl wins.
"After we hit those two plays, we didn't see those blitzes the
rest of the day," Brady said.
Contrast those with a Dallas series in the second quarter that
also gained 46 yards but required 14 plays and 7:23 before it ended
in a punt.
Vinatieri kicked his first field goal four plays after Branch's
catch, and Smith scored one play after the pass to Givens. But the
Patriots' two long plays accounted for 103 of their 184 yards in
the first half.
"Other than a few plays I think we played pretty sound,"
Dallas cornerback Terence Newman said.
But the Cowboys struggled on offense the rest of the way.
Dallas drove from its 34-yard line to a first down at the New
England 19 late in the third quarter. Then a big rush by Bobby
Hamilton and Willie McGinest forced Carter to throw quickly. The
short pass bounced off the hands of Jason Witten and was
intercepted by Ty Law.
And when the Cowboys went for a first down on fourth-and-1 at
the 50 with 9:21 left in the game, Bruschi broke through the line
and dumped Troy Hambrick for a 2-yard loss.
The game ended on Law's interception in the end zone.<
^Notes:@The Patriots are 5-0 at home for the first time in team
history and are 8-2 for the second time, the first in 1978. ... Two
defensive starters in the Patriots opening game returned.
Linebacker Ted Johnson missed eight games with a broken foot, and
nose tackle Ted Washington, who missed six with a broken leg. ...
New England won its 22nd game when leading after the third quarter.