Falcons 27, Cowboys 13
Monday, September 8th 2003, 12:00 am
News On 6
IRVING, Texas (AP) _ The Dallas Cowboys are about to find out how Bill Parcells responds after a mistake-filled loss.
Parcells showed little emotion on the sideline Sunday and didn't seem too perturbed when he spoke to reporters after a 27-13 loss to the Atlanta Falcons in his first game as coach of the Cowboys.
Players weren't so sure what to expect when they got to work Monday.
``We'll find out,'' receiver Joey Galloway said.
Dallas had a 7-3 halftime lead, and it could have been bigger if not for Quincy Carter's ill-advised pass that was intercepted and Billy Cundiff's missed 33-yard field goal the last two first-half drives.
Carter then fumbled three plays into the second half. That led to a touchdown and the first of 17 straight points by the Falcons, who won with quarterback Michael Vick watching from a coaches' box with a broken left leg.
``Everyone figured we couldn't win without Mike. ... That makes this win that much more special,'' cornerback Ray Buchanan said. ``We proved a lot of people wrong.''
Vick's replacement, Doug Johnson, overcame a 1-for-11 stretch to finish 16-of-27 for 228 yards with an interception and two touchdowns _ both in the third quarter, a 7-yarder to Warrick Dunn and a 41-yarder to tight end Alge Crumpler.
After Carter threw a 49-yard TD pass to Galloway with 11:37 left, Johnson led the Falcons on a 14-play, 75-yard drive that he capped with a 1-yard plunge 8 1/2 minutes later.
``I think my players are more confident with Doug now and this win has given us, as a team, more confidence for the rest of the season,'' said Falcons coach Dan Reeves, who earned his 199th victory.
``I'm just trying to hold it down and keep us in contention,'' Johnson said. ``I understand that role and I'm doing everything I can to keep us in playoff position.''
Dallas mistakes made Johnson's job a little easier.
Carter's two turnovers offset his career-high 268 yards on 15-of-32 passing. Plus, a penalty wiped out a 48-yard play to Galloway, who still had seven catches for 139 yards.
``We have a lot of work to do. We'll see where we go from here,'' said Parcells, who coached in his first game since 1999. ``I'm concerned about a lot of things.''
Still, Parcells mostly kept his emotions in check on the sideline, even when things went bad. He stood with his hands on his hips or behind his back, or crossed his arms when he wasn't looking at the play chart he carried.
Parcells also lost his debuts with the New York Giants and New England Patriots. And he knew after being hired by the Cowboys in January that it would take a lot of work to turn around the five-time Super Bowl champions coming off three straight 5-11 seasons.
``I don't think you can make any judgment where we are team-wise until you start playing for keeps, so right now we're not doing that well,'' Parcells said.
His postgame talk to the team didn't last very long.
``He didn't say much,'' said running back Troy Hambrick, who had 53 yards on 14 carries in his first start replacing Emmitt Smith. ``He said, `Y'all know the facts and the mistakes you made.'''
Next is finding out what Parcells will do to correct those mistakes.
``Whatever he does, we have to go by it,'' defensive tackle La'Roi Glover said. ``If you do what he says, you win. If you don't, you won't. It's as simple as that.''