Campo confident that Cowboys can still make the playoffs

Wednesday, October 18th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

IRVING, Texas (AP) _ Dave Campo is an all-pro optimist. The Dallas coach believes his Cowboys can rebound from a 2-4 start and make the NFL playoffs.

Forget that the Cowboys haven't won consecutive games in more than a year, or that they are 0-2 at home, where they play six of their next eight games.

The first-year head coach even finds positives in Sunday's 19-14 loss at the New York Giants in which Troy Aikman tied a team record by throwing five interceptions.

``I don't think this last game should be looked at in a negative way, as much as we made progress on defense, didn't get it done on offense but had a chance to win at the end. We have to move on from there,'' Campo said Tuesday.

``If we had more ball security, we've won three out of four. Now we can move forward. We just have to tweak and just keep moving and get better and hold onto the football.''

Campo is quick to point out that just last season Minnesota was 2-4 and still made the playoffs.

What's not mentioned is that the Vikings made their charge after benching struggling Randall Cunningham the seventh game for talented newcomer Daunte Culpepper. Minnesota then beat Dallas in the NFC wildcard game.

Ironically, Cunningham is now in Dallas, where he had good performances while Aikman missed more than two games with his ninth concussion. Cunningham has better overall numbers (47-of-83 passing for 563 yards, six TDs and two interception) than Aikman (52-of-96, 539 yards, two TDs, nine INTs), who is coming off arguably the worst game in his 12-year career.

``At the present, Troy Aikman's our quarterback,'' Campo reiterated Tuesday. ``He had some struggles, but everyone has a bad game. I don't anticipate that happening again. He's an excellent quarterback and I feel like he gives us the best chance to win.''

While he avoided calling Sunday's game against the Cardinals (2-4) a must-win, Campo is aware of the seriousness of the situation if the Cowboys are going to make a run at the playoffs. Sunday's game will determine which team gets out of last place in the NFC East.

``They're very much like us. They're struggling, we're struggling,'' Campo said. ``They're going to come in with some confidence that this is the game that they're going to get themselves righted and going in the right direction.

``We're in the same situation. We've got to get ourselves playing better at home and go out and do the job.''

Dallas is just 1-3 against NFC East teams, including a 32-31 loss at Arizona the second game of the season. At home, the Cowboys have lost 41-14 to Philadelphia and 41-24 to San Francisco while allowing 201-yard rushers each game.