Offense On Fire

Cowboys coach Bill Parcells thought his team would have to win a certain way on offense. He came into the season touting a run-oriented grind-it-out attack behind running back Julius Jones.

But poor defense has forced the Cowboys to open things up on offense through the first three games of the season.

Quarterback Drew Bledsoe and a deep stable of pass-catchers have responded with two come-from-behind victories. Bledsoe has passed for 850 yards and six touchdowns. He ranks third in the NFL in passing with a 103.7 rating.

Receiver Terry Glenn ranks third in the league with 24 yards per catch. And receiver Keyshawn Johnson has caught two game-winning touchdowns.

All totaled, the Cowboys offense ranks fifth in the league. They are fifth in scoring. With 75 points in three games, the Cowboys are on pace for a 400-point season. The last time they did that was in 1995 en route to winning Super Bowl XXX.

Parcells doesn't know if the Cowboys can continue to win playing this way. But the fact is, the only game they lost - 14-13 to the Redskins - is when they were ultra-conservative on offense.

"I don't know what we'll be able to do going forward," Parcells said. "We will see."

What the Cowboys know now is that they can be prolific on offense when they have to. With Randy Moss and the Raiders up next, they likely will have to be wide-open again. Their defense has given up eight pass plays of at least 20 yards in the first three games, and the Raiders will be going deep early and often. Considering the Raiders have the league's 31st-ranked pass defense, the Cowboys will likely be coming right back at them.

Leading the way will be Bledsoe and the Cowboys receiver corps, who both were criticized before the season as being weak links.

Bledsoe and the aging Johnson, 33, and Glenn, 31, are simply thriving in the wide-open style.

"He's in the right system," Johnson said of Bledsoe. "It's obvious to me he is one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL."

The key for Bledsoe has been protection. Sacked 140 times the last three years in Buffalo, Bledsoe has only been sacked six times in Dallas.

Given protection he has feasted on defenses with a stable of capable pass catchers. Johnson and Glenn are the top dogs. But Bledsoe also trusts tight end Jason Witten and third receiver Patrick Crayton.

It makes the Cowboys unpredictable and potentially unstoppable.

"You keep watching them and hope to get a tip to say they are going to this guy or to that guy," Raiders coach Norv Turner said. "But they have great balance. Drew has confidence in all their starting guys, the tight end, the two wideouts and the young guy, Crayton. They have the ideal situation."

Said Bledsoe: "I can't tell you that there is one guy that we feel has to make all the plays for us. When you look at the number of weapons we have, a defense can't be focused on just one guy and expect to shut us down."

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