IRVING, Texas -- Don't expect the Dallas Cowboys to go for
it on fourth down any time soon.
Coach Bill Parcells said Monday that he's giving up on that sort
of risk. The Cowboys failed twice in a 26-10 loss Sunday to the New
His reasoning: He only tries it when he has confidence in his
team and right now he absolutely doesn't.
"I don't really know what to expect at this point," Parcells
Parcells is fed up with how many penalties and turnovers the
Cowboys (2-2) are committing, and the crucial times those mistakes
and others are occurring.
It all comes down to concentration, he says. His players simply
lack it, no matter how much coaches talk about it -- and they've
been talking about it a lot since training camp.
"Quite apparently, we're not getting through to the team,"
Parcells said. "It hasn't changed no matter how hard I've tried to
do it, tried to emphasize it. We have periodically gotten better,
but then we fall right back into the same thing."
Parcells was especially angry about the penalties. There were 11
for 74 yards against the Giants, upping the Cowboys' per-game
averages to nine for 88.25. Only two teams average more penalties
and Dallas is easily the worst in yards.
In his previous 16 seasons, Parcells' most-flagged team averaged
7.1 for 63.75 yards. That was the first team he ever coached. Since
then, the norm has been around 5.5 for 43.5, with the Cowboys
slightly above both figures last season.
Parcells considers this season's team more talented. However,
they're apparently less focused.
"We're making too many dumb plays," cornerback Terence Newman
said. "I am surprised because that's something we really
emphasize. ... You've got to focus out on the practice field. If
you jump (offsides) a couple of times in practice, then it will
carry into the game. They should fine us or something."
Dallas' meltdown against New York began long after the first
failure on fourth-and-1, although that might have been an omen.
Down 3-0 from the Giants' 5 in the first quarter, Parcells went
for the lead. He called the first play he ever taught this team, a
simple handoff behind two Pro Bowl linemen on the left side. New
York turned it into a 2-yard loss.
"I would say we call that play 200 times, we wouldn't have a
mental error," Parcells said. "But we did."
Another mistake came with less than a minute left in the first
half. The Cowboys were up 10-3, had all three timeouts left and
were at midfield after surprising the Giants with consecutive runs,
so he called a safe pass to tight end Jason Witten. Witten fumbled
and New York turned it into a 51-yard field goal, thanks partly to
a penalty that stopped the clock with 16 seconds left and gave it
five more yards.
"It should be 13-3, and it's 10-6," Parcells said.
Then came the series that summed up all of Parcells'
With New York punting on fourth-and-1, Keith Davis charged into
the backfield and wound up close enough to punter Jeff Feagles that
the wily veteran drew a penalty that gave the Giants a first down.
Parcells was especially upset because players were warned all week
to avoid the punter on fourth-and-5 or less.
"You shouldn't be putting yourself in that position," he said.
Tiki Barber, who hadn't done much at that point, broke off a
58-yard run on the next snap. Still, the drive would have slowed
with two sacks -- had there not been personal fouls on both. New
York ended up scoring the touchdown that put it ahead for good.
With Dallas unable to make any breaks for itself, Parcells tried
forcing one -- on fourth-and-1 from his own 43, down just six points
with more than 10 minutes left.
A swing pass to fullback Darian Barnes was stopped, prompting
immediate questions about the decision not to punt as well as the
play that was run.
"If you just go by the book, you are not going to win many
games in this league," Parcells said. "Instincts have served me
right over the years."