The Cowboys' Turkey Sandwich

IRVING, TX -- Next to be served to the Cowboys, the other slice of bread in what can be a filling Thanksgiving sandwich.

That bottom slice of bread was put in place Sunday, with a momentous 21-14 victory over the no-longer-perfect Colts, a success that elevated Dallas to 6-4. Six games left, and a sudden winnable flavor to most of them, and the Cowboys offer the aroma of a playoff team.

Then came the next layer, the meat of the sandwich: Other playoff pretenders in the NFC spoiling and rotting. The Eagles lose, and lose QB McNabb for the season. The Falcons lose a third straight. The Saints lose at home to an AFC team. Seattle loses and makes San Francisco look good. The Rams lose and get shut out. The Vikings lose as their offense is again inept.

And then came Monday night. ... and more meat! Plus yams and stuffing and pumpkin pie on the side: The Giants lose a second straight lopsided game, this time 26-10 at Jacksonville.

"We had a lot at stake,'' Giants coach Tom Coughlin moaned, as if he was battling constipation, "and we didn't play well.''

A lot at stake indeed, because this see-saw'y Cowboys season is now only angling up. The Cowboys' win, married with the Giants' loss, means a tie atop the NFC East. It also means 6-4 is the conference's second-best record (which suggests that Dallas may simply be the second-prettiest girl in a pageant full of fuglies, but still. ...) The shakeout arrives after a weekend that featured eight interconference games. Only the Bears (against the Jets) and the Cowboys were good enough NFC teams to survive.

I know it's too early to know for sure, but maybe that means only the Bears and the Cowboys are good enough, period?

Coach Bill Parcells said Monday his club needs to "put some wins together to get into contention." I endorse the coach's tght-arsed cynicism here, which suggests a pedal-to-the-metal approach during the stretch run, which commences Thursday with a home meeting against the lowly Buccaneers. And you know what they represent, right?

The other slice of bread atop that filling Thanksgiving sandwich.

Enter December with a 7-4 record, braced for a Dec. 3 rematch showdown at the Giants, and things continue tipping up. Closing the slate: a home game against the admittedly explosive Saints, a roadie against the talented-but-struggling Falcons, and then holiday Texas Stadium events against have-nots Philly and Detroit.

Surely there are three or four wins in there somewhere, right?

Parcells' other catchphrase on Monday had something to do with fixing whatever few things ail his club. Parcells mentioned that he's not ready to administer the "Dr. Livingstone's Frozen Elixir.''

Two points: 1) The reason coach cannot prescribe to the Cowboys some "Dr. Livingstone's Frozen Elixir'' is because, as near as my Google can tell, there is no such thing. 2) On my meaty Cowboys Thanksgiving sandwich, I prefer mayo.

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