- The Washington Times - Monday, November 3, 2003

IRVING, Texas — Coach Bill Parcells called the game’s early going “a nightmare,” but yesterday’s victory over the Washington Redskins ended up being another happy moment in what’s looking more and more like a dream season for the Dallas Cowboys.

Led by a defense that harassed and frustrated Washington’s passers, Dallas overcame a torrent of early mistakes to beat the Redskins 21-14 and further solidify its grip on the NFC East lead.

In his first year in Dallas, Parcells’ team already eclipsed its win total from last season, and with the win over the Redskins ran the Cowboys’ division record to 3-0 and brought them closer to a first-place finish.

“We’re fortunate to be where we are today,” said Parcells, who won four NFC East titles as the New York Giants’ coach in the 1980s and early ‘90s. “It doesn’t matter how, it’s how many in this league. So we’re 6-2, and I’m happy about that.”

Dallas hadn’t lost to Washington at Texas Stadium since 1995, and a setback would have been the Cowboys’ second loss in a row and would have kept the divisional race a four-team scramble.

The Redskins (3-5) appeared to have a chance to climb back into playoff contention when yesterday’s game began horribly for Dallas. A penalty brought back the Cowboys’ touchdown return on the opening kickoff. Quincy Carter threw an interception two plays later. Troy Hambrick fumbled on Dallas’ next offensive play. Carter was intercepted again on the next series when a ball bounced off receiver Terry Glenn’s leg into the hands of Washington’s Ifeanyi Ohalete.

“We made enough mistakes to lose two or three ballgames,” Parcells said. “I told the players, you won’t be able to get away with some of that stuff that we had early in the game. By the same token, once that nightmare was over we didn’t play too bad of football.”

The Cowboys later had another touchdown nullified by a penalty, but for the most part, they limited their errors to the first quarter. After halftime Hambrick and Glenn each atoned for their mistakes. Hambrick, spurred by the signing of free agent veteran running back Adrian Murrell last week, rushed 21 times for 100 yards and the first two Cowboys touchdowns. Glenn caught a touchdown pass that put Dallas up 21-6 less than four minutes into the fourth quarter and ran 47 yards on a reverse that allowed Dallas to run out the clock.

“When you make mistakes like that, you usually don’t see the ball that much [afterward],” said Glenn, the Cowboys’ leading receiver with 32 catches for 732 yards this season.

But Parcells stuck with Glenn and Hambrick, and Dallas moved to 6-2 for the first time since 1995, when it began the season 8-1.

“Hambrick is what I’ve got and I’ll play him,” Parcells said. “He just needs to get his stuff together. Glenn and Hambrick each had turnovers, but I only have four receivers. If I’m confident enough to sign them, I’m confident enough to play them.”

Dallas’ defense, which had surrendered just 245 yards a game going into yesterday’s contest, yielded only 213 yards to Washington. Still, Parcells hesitated to say his team has a playoff-caliber defense.

“It’s not anywhere near time to be talking about that,” Parcells said. “They’re playing pretty solid. I’m going to be happy until I get out to the parking lot.”

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