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Phillips: Cardiac Cowboys Under Garrett

IRVING, Texas --No wonder Jason Garrett simulated so many crunch-time situations in practice at the Alamodome and Cowboys Stadium.

No wonder he explained to his players in camp how often NFL games were within one score in the fourth quarter last year (66 percent), and how often the Cowboys were in that position.

No wonder he says "winning the fourth quarter" is essential to becoming a good team in this league.

Monday night, the Cowboys continued their longest streak in NFL history -- history -- with nine straight games decided by three points or less. Garrett has coached 11 games since his interim tenure began last November, and nine of them have been pure nailbiters.

The Cowboys improved to 5-4 in that cardiac setting with an 18-16 win over Washington. If the Cowboys don't fumble late on Thanksgiving Day and miss an extra point on Christmas Night, maybe that record is 7-2.

Despite the meltdown in the season opener, Week 2 and Week 3 proved something: this is a tougher team than the one that gave away games early in the 2010 season. The players must be credited for their resiliency, and Garrett must be credited for emphasizing it on a daily basis.

Long way to go, though, and it gets no easier with undefeated Detroit coming to town.

Odds are it'll be a close one, too.

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