- Associated Press - Monday, November 15, 2010

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - Jerry Jones held up the game ball and, with a smile as wide as Big D itself, handed it to Jason Garrett.

Six days after one of the most distasteful acts he’s ever had to perform _ firing Wade Phillips _ the Dallas Cowboys‘ owner was beaming about Garrett’s debut as an NFL head coach.

Yet Jones was careful not to get carried away.

“What we need is to put two wins together now,” he said Sunday night after the Cowboys broke a five-game slide with a 33-20 victory over the NFC East-leading New York Giants. “The players responded. I’m so proud they responded to the coaches, to the meetings, and that is what our fans expect.

“It’s great to see the players in here with smiles on their faces and getting some confidence,” Jones added in a locker room devoid of the dire tones and defeatism of earlier weeks. “They deserved it today.

“Don’t make this bigger than it is, but this is a little step. I sure am happy the players and Jason have this to work off of. It’s sure better than the alternative.”

The alternative was a spiral to 1-7 for a team ballyhooed as a Super Bowl contender in a season when the big game will be played in Jones‘ billion-dollar palace outside of Dallas. In the last two weeks, after starting quarterback Tony Romo went down with a broken collarbone, the Cowboys weren’t even competitive.

That led to the first midseason coaching change in team history, something Jones insisted through the first seven games would not happen.

He wasn’t about to criticize Phillips‘ regime after the win at New Meadowlands Stadium, which had two power outages in the third quarter that delayed action for 11 minutes. He also wasn’t about to touch that subject.

“I’ve got to get on a plane tonight,” he said with a laugh. “I wouldn’t fool around with any of that.”

Instead, he concentrated on the effort and emotion he saw on the field and on the Dallas sideline.

“I saw passion on the side of our players,” Jones said. “I hope there will be something good from what we experienced.

“We made our own bed and now this was a nice experience for all of us, but it’s the tip of the iceberg.”

So Jones wasn’t making any wild claims about getting into the playoff race. Nor is he talking about job security for Garrett or the underachieving roster.

For now, he wanted everyone associated with his team to bask in the glow of a rare win over an archrival that probably is headed for the postseason.

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