Lights, Camera, Play-Action

If history is an indicator of what the future holds, the Dallas Cowboys would love to play a Superbowl in the Meadowlands under Bill Parcells. For the second game in a row, on the road and in adverse conditions, Parcells' Dallas Cowboys defeated the New York Jets 17-6. Thus keeping his record in Giants stadium at a meager 1000%.

Over the last eight years since the Cowboys were a winning team and the last dynasty in the NFL, they have been void a complete offense. There is always one element missing of either passing or running that has caused them to be one-dimensional. But if one drive from Sunday's victory could encapsulate the progress this team has shown under the guiding hand of Tuna, it came mid-way in the fourth quarter.

The Jets had mounted an eleven-play drive late in the third ending up with a field goal. The score was 14-6 and Dallas was showing signs of their late game struggles as the Jets drove easily.

Both teams had possessions with little results starting the fourth and Dallas was looking a little ragged around the edges. The Cowboys took possession on their own five-yard line with eleven minutes left in the contest. These are the series that test men's souls as the Cowboys have shown they normally find a way to go three and out and punt away great field position. Yet all game Richie Anderson and Troy Hambrick had moved the ball on the ground. The Jets were expecting Parcells to try and run the clock down. They were a defense looking to change the momentum. And Dallas is a team that has, in the past, allowed other teams to take momentum away.

Two passes to Anderson of first 7 and then 20 yards sandwiched around a two yard run by Hambrick brought the team to their own 34-yard line. Dallas followed with a pass to Hambrick for 6, then two runs of 7 and 4 yards depositing the Cowboys on the Jets 49-yard line.

All of the passing plays came on play-action as the Jets time and again bit on the fake run and were stung by the pass. Parcells, long known for his conservative play calling and power running game, showed both New York and the NFL that old dogs sometimes do learn new tricks.

Dallas enjoyed a 1st and 10 on the Jets 49 when again he elected to play action. The clock was down to 7 minutes and 10 second when the Cowboys pulled the string and went deep instead of the short passing game. Joey Galloway's deep in route split the corner and the safety as Carter threw a perfect pass leaving Dallas on the Jets 7-yard line.

Troy Hambrick finished the day with a healthy 24 carries for 127-yards and one TD. Hambrick's best run of the day came behind Andre Gurode for 31-yards to score the first Dallas TD in the second quarter. They took their first lead at 7-3 and never looked back.

The ground game produced a total of 202-yards, even counting the 2-yard loss by Carter. But all day long Dallas ran the ball, and ground out yards forcing the Jets to respect the play-action. Which ultimately set up the coup d' gras on the 42-yarder to Galloway.

Antonio Bryant scored his first touchdown of the year 15 seconds before the half on a 13-yard pass from Carter. Bryant has shown time and again that he can adjust to the ball and has the presence of mind to get his feet down before falling out of bounds. The pass to the back of the endzone was positioned where only Antonio could catch the ball. Carter to Bryant looks to be something special for years to come. This was a game Dallas would lose last year. They would have gotten up on an opponent and then gone into a shell. But Parcells has instilled a disciplined team that believes in themselves and plays together. Dallas had one penalty for the entire game. A giant step forward from the shoot your own foot Cowboys of 2002.

The offense won this game. They stayed on the field for 32:36 and kept their defense on the sidelines. If this season holds any promise over what we've seen in the recent past, this is the game plan for Parcells. Run between the tackles, the short passing game, and hitting them deep when the defense starts to crowd the line of scrimmage.

Terrance Newman was exposed on several pass plays. But to his credit he was always on the receiver and Vinny Testaverde made some exceptional throws. He will learn the pro game and will begin winning the battles he is losing now by mid-season.

Roy Williams redeemed himself from a poor game against the Giants with a nice forced fumble recovered in the endzone by Darren Woodson. This put a halt to the Jets best drive of the day and let the air out of their winless tires in the second quarter.

Yet the pass rush was anemic and will expose this bunch as it has in the last several seasons. The defensive end position will surely be a high priority in the off-season. Adding a pass rushing end would improve this defense ten fold.

However, if Hambrick shows up and can become a featured back that rattles off near the century mark each week, this would give Quincy Carter the balanced attack he needs to be successful. And offer some significant rest to the defense that has played nearly three extra games each year for the last three.

Carter's decision-making has improved and he understands throwing the ball away and reloading is the better part of valor on some plays. He is not losing games by poor decisions, although he did throw an interception today.

Dallas settled in and won a game that was tight and a sure loss under the former coaching staff. They played as a team and held the Jets at bay. A significant improvement over what has been offered for offense by the team wearing the star. The history of Parcells shows he has the capability to teach and coordinate and get the most from his players. His second year at each stop finds his most significant contributions. Yet with these Cowboys, his machinations are already looking to have a positive affect. For a team that normally loses on the road, Bill has brought home two victories.

Parcells has taken two teams to the Superbowl. If these first three games are a true measure of his talent at resurrecting a franchise. Dallas and its fans truly hope history repeats itself.

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