Playoffs with Quincy? Is it true?

While some folks will tell you that Quincy Carter isn't the future of the Dallas Cowboys, don't tell that to anybody on the team. "I tell you, without Quincy Carter, we wouldn't be in this position," Hambrick said. "He has done a hell of a job to get us where we're at."

Cowboys quarterback Quincy Carter had to be the one. He had to be the player, leader and answer to whether the Cowboys could go from being another loser to a playoff team under fix-it-fast coach Bill Parcells.

Carter completed that coronation Sunday against the New York Giants, playing nearly flawless football when he was needed most -- with a playoff berth hanging in front of him.

Running back Troy Hambrick told Carter before the game that it was on him to make this happen. Carter delivered with 240 yards passing and one touchdown in the Cowboys' 19-3 playoff-clinching victory. Carter eclipsed 3,000 yards passing for the season, becoming the first Cowboy to do so since Troy Aikman in 1997.

"I tell you, without Quincy Carter, we wouldn't be in this position," Hambrick said. "He has done a hell of a job to get us where we're at."

Carter has put the Cowboys in the playoffs, something that might have never seemed possible after he was benched in favor of Chad Hutchinson last season. That was pre-Parcells. Under a new coach, Carter revived his career and the image of America's Team.

Sunday was his vindication, guiding the Cowboys to their first playoff berth since 1999 and doubling last year's win total. He completed 17 of 25 passes, including a 36-yard touchdown toss to Jason Witten in the first quarter. His quarterback rating was 112.1.

"This is what you dream of," said Carter, who became the fifth quarterback in team history to reach 3,000 yards passing. "To get your team to the tournament."

Carter avoided the bad decisions, choosing to throw passes away rather than force balls to receivers. He tucked and scrambled for yards rather than hanging in the pocket with Giants defensive end Michael Strahan lurking.

"More than anything, [Parcells] wants him to make smart decisions," tight end Dan Campbell said. "At the same time, I don't think he asks for a ton of big plays, but he wants Quincy to make some big plays, and he did that today. Let's be honest, he's really done it all year."

His season has been one of ups and downs, but, in the past two weeks, Carter has gone without interceptions in consecutive games for the first time this season. One of his best moments against the Giants was the rollout touchdown pass to Witten.

"Quincy played as good of a game as he has since he became a Cowboy," owner Jerry Jones said.

Carter spread the ball to six receivers and relocated the trio of Galloway, Terry Glenn and Antonio Bryant. Two weeks ago against Philadelphia, the trio didn't catch a pass. They were in the game plan from the first play against a reeling Giants defense. On the first play from scrimmage, Carter launched a 64-yard pass to Galloway, the Cowboys' longest play of the season.

"I thought we came out and we were aggressive," said Carter, who started his 15th consecutive game, the longest streak by a Cowboy since Aikman started 16 in 1997. "That's what coach Parcells wanted to do. He wanted to put them on their heels, and I thought we did that early on."

Glenn finished with five catches for 64 yards, Bryant had four catches for 41 yards and Galloway finished with one catch.

"Quincy did a very good job with his decision-making today," Parcells said. "At least he didn't sling it up into the mud pile."

Carter, whose record at Texas Stadium is 10-4, had three completions for 24 or more yards and added five rushes for 26 yards. He was overwhelmingly satisfied in the post-game locker room, giving congratulations and hugs, while Jones stood nearby gushing praise for his quarterback.

"I think it's impressive to see him get out under those circumstances and play as sound a game as he played today, and address a lot of things he's being criticized for," Jones said. "Can he go in a high-stakes game, not try to make every play, and play within himself? Today was a good example of that."

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