P's and Q's."
Parcells, obviously, knows not only all this but how to impart it. As he looks at this talented, hard-working, energetic young team that has revitalized even him, does he think they know, really know, the opportunity before them and the price that must be paid to get it?
"We have a lot of young players," Parcells said after a deep breath and what seemed like an endless pause to consider his response. "I'm pretty sure that of the young ones, none of them have any idea. All of them would tell you they have a sense of it, but there'd be very few who really know what it takes and what it's going to be like. I would say that game the other night (against the Giants) was the kind of game you'd better expect the rest of the way. I do think the team has the willingness to try to do what's necessary."
What's necessary is to be much, much better than they were last week and the week before that, and next week to be better than this. That's if you want to be special. If you just want to stumble sideways into the playoffs and maybe - maybe - scratch out a win in a wild-card game and then go home, then OK. Just think you're now all that, come in 10-6 and hope you don't sprain your arm patting yourself on the back while the Saints or Seahawks play in the Championship Game.
But if you're a Cowboy and you want to be like linebacker Al Singleton, who won a Super Bowl championship with Tampa Bay four years ago, then listen to Aaron Glenn. Listen to Parcells. Listen to Singleton: "No matter where you are in the season, I always think you're as good as your last game. We haven't accomplished anything yet. I try to tell the young guys that in December you have to play your best football if you want to do things."
Now the good news: Singleton sees the young players wanting to know how. They're asking him what it took in Tampa. They're asking Glenn and Jason Ferguson what they had to do to get to the championship game with the Jets in '98.
None of the contending teams in the field is better. Dallas is better than none of them just by virtue of the star on the helmet. The best quarter of the season for these Cowboys in the first 12 games has been the fourth quarter. Now the fourth quarter of the season is about to begin.
Let's see how special they want to be.