Bill Parcells challenged the Dallas Cowboys by telling them, "It's showtime." They responded by having two touchdowns erased by penalties, throwing two interceptions and losing two fumbles -- all before halftime.
"It was a complete nightmare," Parcells said.
But these are not the Cowboys who went 5-11 each of the previous three seasons. With Troy Hambrick and Terry Glenn atoning for early mistakes, and the Washington Redskins failing to take advantage of them, Dallas won, 21-14, Sunday for its sixth victory in seven games.
The Cowboys (6-2) improved to 3-0 against division foes to tighten their grip on the NFC East. They rebounded from a shutout loss to Tampa Bay by opening a key November stretch with a win -- albeit an ugly one.
"I'm just happy to be where we are now," Parcells said.
The rest of this month, the Cowboys play Buffalo, New England, Carolina and Miami -- teams that are a combined 21-11. The run may show whether Dallas can win the division for the first time since 1998, or miss the playoffs -- as Denver, San Diego and New Orleans did after starting 6-2 last season.
Hambrick, who had the two early fumbles, finished with 100 yards and two short touchdown runs. Glenn made up for some awful drops, including one that led to Washington's first touchdown, with a nice catch-and-run for a 19-yard TD that gave Dallas breathing room early in the fourth quarter. He also sealed the victory with a 47-yard run on a reverse in the closing minutes.
Washington (3-5), coming off a bye, lost its fourth in a row and fifth in six games.