IRVING, TEXAS When things were going well for Dallas early last season, Bill Parcells was asked about the great attitudes seen from several players who usually were not described that way. His response sounded more like a warning.
"It's easy to be a team player," Parcells said, "when you're winning."
His point was that players and teams show their true character in how they respond to losing.
A good example will be on display tonight, though not by Parcells' Cowboys. The scrutiny will be on their foe, Philadelphia, coming off its first loss after a 7-0 start.
There's no reason to think the Eagles are going to crater. After all, this is a team that's been to the last three NFC championship games.
But the dynamics are different this year because Philadelphia has a new leading man -- Terrell Owens, whose persona fits what Parcells was talking about.
Owens was a happy camper during the winning streak and was a big reason for it. However, he was practically a non-factor in a 27-3 loss to Pittsburgh, and cameras caught him shouting at quarterback Donovan McNabb, then McNabb turning away.
The Eagles spent all week insisting that Owens was yelling words of encouragement. On a conference call with Dallas media, McNabb said they were making dinner plans and that he walked away because, "I wasn't hungry at the time."
McNabb can laugh because he knows how well his team has handled adversity the last four seasons. Philadelphia has lost consecutive games only twice and never lost three in a row; even the New England Patriots haven't been that consistent.
"The sooner you put it behind you the better," tight end Chad Lewis said. "We've got a lot of confidence, we have a lot of great leaders on our team, a lot of playmakers. No one is going to curl up into a ball and cry."