Jobs on the Line

The Cowboys and coach Bill Parcells are officially losers in 2004. No matter what they do in the final two games, they can finish no better than 7-9, marking their fourth losing season in five years.

The Cowboys' failures in 2004 mean that Parcells will be a loser for the first time since 1995.

It also is the first time a Parcells-coached team not only didn't improve in his second year with the franchise but finished with a losing record.

Parcells didn't expect this, not after taking the team to a 10-6 record and a wild-card playoff berth in his first year, but he understands why the Cowboys are here.

And while it's easy to point to the mediocre playoff race in the NFC that has the Cowboys still mathematically in contention and wonder where the Cowboys would be if they had taken care of business in a couple of close games early in the season, he said the 2004 Cowboys are what they are: a losing team.

"I think we're a combination of the things that cause you to lose: turnovers, an inability to stop the big play, and quite a few untimely penalties," Parcells said.

"There are four or five games in there we could have won. I didn't say should have, but with just a decent performance at the right time -- like (Sunday), the week before (against the Saints), the Pittsburgh game, the Giants game, we'd be in a different position. But we're where we are because of what we do. It's probably about what we should be with what we've done."

The standings say the Cowboys have nothing to play for over the last two weeks against the Redskins Sunday and Giants Jan. 2.

Parcells, however, expects effort -- no matter what he does at quarterback.

He said the games should have meaning to the players because it's their job and they get paid for 16 weeks.

It's also important because many are playing for jobs for next season. Parcells said several players have yet to show him what they can do, and these are two more opportunities to showcase their talents.

Defensive end Greg Ellis said his teammates will play hard because they want to win and get the bad taste of losing out of their mouths.

He said the Redskins have shown over the last couple of weeks that they are continuing to give their all.

He said they will certainly come to Dallas on Sunday looking to reverse their fortunes against their bitter rivals. The Cowboys have won 13 of the last 14 in the series.

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