'Boys bolstered by losing weekend

The Cowboys looked in the mirror before returning to the practice field this week and realized 3-2 isn't as ugly as it might have appeared one week ago.

While the Cowboys were off Sunday, their NFC East foes all lost in somewhat surprising fashion.

The Giants still control the division with a 4-1 mark, a record that could be construed as a two-game advantage over the Cowboys given New York already has a road victory over the Cowboys.

But the Eagles (3-2) have questions following a shocking loss to the lowly Raiders.

The Redskins are in complete disarray after losing to the lowly Chiefs to give a second winless team -- Washington also lost to Detroit -- its first victory this season.

The Cowboys said they aren't going to apologize for winning and the weekend proved their ultimate message -- an ugly win is better than a pretty loss.

"It just shows you that you've got to play well each week," Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said. "You can be favored and all those things, but you need to play well to win ballgames.

"It's a competitive league; it's tough to win in this league. I've said it all along: I think winners will come through."

The Cowboys feel good about themselves heading into what will be a critical stretch. They feel better about themselves in part because of the return to health of several injured players.

"We had a chance to move up and let ourselves heal," running back Tashard Choice said. "It's now time to exert ourselves and get an identity for our team. It's time to push. We've got to be ready to make a move and get ourselves on track in terms of a whole game in all three phases of the game."

NOTES: The Cowboys had the league's 22nd-best defense entering Monday night's game. But defensive coordinator and head coach Wade Phillips said the unit has played better the last couple of games and continues to improve.

"I don't think we're playing great yet, but I think we're playing well," Phillips said. "It's a pretty solid unit. I don't know what the ranking is, but we've played well the last several games. It's how you play the next game. It's not how you're ranked or how many turnovers you did or didn't have. It's how many you get in this game. The important thing is the game coming up."

* WR Roy Williams is celebrating the one-year anniversary of his trade from Detroit to the Cowboys this week.

Of course he has not had the kind of production that the Cowboys would celebrate. He caught just 19 passes in 10 games last year. This year he was elevated to the No. 1 receiver role and has 11 catches for 214 yards and one touchdown. He missed one game with bruised ribs.

"He's tried to do everything we've asked him to do," coach Wade Phillips said. "He's been banged up here lately. I look forward to him coming back.

"I think Roy is like us. We need to wait until the end of the season and see how he does."

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