Cowboys Mid-Week Wrap

Practice notes and team news heading into week three of the 2003 NFL season.

--A week ago, Billy Cundiff was a bad game away from the unemployment line.
   Now, he has a permanent place in the NFL record books, Cowboys folklore and coach Bill Parcell's memory bank.
   In Monday's 35-32 thrilling victory against the Giants, giving Parcells his first victory as a Cowboys coach, Cundiff kicked a league-record tying seven field goals, including a career-long 52-yarder to tie the game at the end of regulation and a 25-yarder to win it in overtime.
   "To be honest with you it doesn't really mean that much right now," Cundiff said. "In the future it's something I can tell my kids that is something I did. I had to do what I did so we can win on the road and that is the most important thing."
   Making his performance even more impressive was that it came a week after he missed a 33-yard attempt and got a extra-point blocked in a loss to Falcons. Although he knew his job was on shaky ground, Cundiff said he didn't change anything going into the game and prepared the same as he did the week before.
   Parcells said his decision to be patient with Cundiff and stick with him for another week "paid off for him and me". It also carved Cundiff a place along side some of best field goal kickers Parcells has ever coached.
   "The game winner was a really clutch kick in difficult circumstances," Parcells said. "It's certainly on par with some of the best field goal kickers I've had. I remember down in Washington in 1989. (Giants kicker) Raul Allegre kicked a 52-yarder to beat the Redskins open day of the season. That was a kick like that. (Giants kicker) Matt Bahr had a 41-yarder to send San Francisco home in 1990 in the NFC championship game. This kick was on par with those kicks. It was an outstanding performance."
   --QB Quincy Carter impressed Coach Bill Parcells with his resiliency after Giants cornerback Ralph Brown returned an interception 29 yards to paydirt in the first quarter.
   Not only did Carter finish with a career-high 321 yards passing but he confidently droved the team down the field at end of the game and in overtime for the game tying and winning scores.
   But also crucial to the outcome was that Carter didn't committ another turnover following the first quarter gaffe and stayed away from bad plays by smartly throwing the ball away or scrambling out of trouble.
   Carter, who responded with an 8-yard touchdown run of his own following the interception, credited his teammates for sticking with him.
   "It was the first quarter; we've got four more quarters to play," Carter said. "If I hang my head after one play then my whole football team is done. They had all the confidence in the world in me when I came back into the huddle. You can feel that when guys around you have confidence in you. I give a lot of credit to my teammates. That means a whole lot for a quarterback."
   --The Cowboys signed cornerback Andrew Davison to the roster and released cornerback Jeff Sanchez. Davison, who went to training camp with the Jets before being cut, worked out for the Cowboys last week.
   -- DT Michael Myers, who started Game One against the Falcons in place of an injured Willie Blade, was not active for the New York game. Instead, the Cowboys started Blade, who returned from a knee injury and used Daleroy Stewart as the primary backup. Parcells said he wasn't disappointed in Myers, but did suggest Myers was too small to play nose tackle and would rather use him as a backup to La'Roi Glover. It was Blade first game as a pro since being picked in the third round of the 2001 draft. He was injured reserve as rookie and was cut last season by the Cowboys before being picked up by the Texans, where he spent all season on the inactive list. The Cowboys signed him back in the offseason.
   "[Blade] didn't get pushed around, but he got beat on his technique a few times, Parcells said. "He's a rookie to me. He hasn't ever done...he's been hurt...been a couple places, never played and never been in a game situation."
   --WR Zuriel Smith put a charge in the return game in place of Reggie Swinton. His play gave the Cowboys good field position early in the game. His biggest impact was on the non-play Smith made late in the fourth quarter.
   Smith's decision to let a kickoff go out of bounds after the Giants' go-ahead field goal with 11 seconds left rather thank pick the ball up and try to win the game himself was huge. It gave the Cowboys a first down at the 40-yard line and a viable chance to move into position for the game-tying field goal.
   Of course, Smith is used to having a big impact at Giants Stadium. As junior at Hampton in 2001, Smith tied a Division IAA record with three punt returns for touchdowns against Virginia State at Giants Stadium.
   --RB Troy Hambrick is getting his carries, the one's he's been asking for since last season. It's the yards that are slow in coming now. But, that doesn't mean the fourth-year back from Savannah State hasn't been effective in Parcells' eyes.
   Hambrick carried the ball 23 times for 60 yards to lead the Cowboys Monday night against the Giants, and on Tuesday morning, despite the team charter not arriving back in Dallas until 5:30 a.m., Hambrick was at Valley Ranch before anyone else watching game film.
   "I think he was better when we kept him inside running straight at them," Parcells said. "I have a pretty good feel for Troy. I was pleased to see he was in the office probably before I was. He was in there looking at film by himself."
Hambrick's longest run on Monday was just 12 yards, but it was a much shorter run that caught Parcells attention and is the type of run that Hambrick can possibly learn the most from.
   "Troy and I were looking at one play this morning, an off-tackle play, and we really didn't block it very well, but he really pounded it in the hole and even though there was really no hole there he gained about two and a half yards," Parcells said. "I mentioned to him that's a really good run. That's the mentality you have to have about running the ball."

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