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Keep hope alive. Bill Parcells was channeling Rev. Jesse Jackson today in a press conference that was unlike the others we have regularly in Dallas. The media wanted to talk about the Eagles; he wanted to talk about the Lions. The media wanted to talk about the bad play over the last month; he wanted to talk about making the playoffs. The media wanted to talk about backing up the hearse; he wanted to talk about how they've backed up the hearse for almost every team in the NFC at some point this year. On and on it went. The Dallas media rightly wanted a post-mortem on the Eagles game, Parcells pretended it didn't happen. Because he controls what happens at a press conference, we'll never know his view on the game. There will be no forthcoming details on who failed, when they failed, and why they failed.

But we did get a few nuggets of information by reading between the lines, and his view on the Philly game was pretty much everybody's view, we were putrid. By not even discussing it, he showed the futility of actually trying to discuss it; he basically would've had to rip his entire team. The only guy he even talked about individually was Jason Ferguson, who he thought played well. That left about 40+ other guys who he would have to lie about to keep from trashing them in public, or just go ahead and trash them in public. Maybe they need that. But Parcells is banking on the opposite; things are so fragile right now, that any kind of push in the wrong direction would send the whole thing crashing to the ground. Yeah, it's ignoring the reality of the situation, but that happens in sports all the time. What you believe can happen is sometimes as important as what is happening.

So the Tuna is working in a different time-zone than the rest of us. We want to know what happened, we want accountability and answers. It's the first press conference after the game; we always get some kind of post-mortem on the previous contest. We were still on "Wednesday afternoon" time. Parcells was on "Sunday against the Lions" time, which is really just a proxy for tournament time. The Detroit game is a game they need to win, just to have any validity going into the playoffs. But even if they lose that game, they still have to play a playoff game, and that's all Parcells has left.

He knows it, we know it, everyone knows it. There's nothing left this team can do to change anybody's perceptions about it, except win in the playoffs. The regular season is over. I realize Dallas needs to beat Detroit, and they could still conceivably win the NFC East. So it's not that they have nothing to play for Sunday, it is important. The Cowboys still need to win if they have any serious dreams of winning in the playoffs.

But the long-term legacy of this 2006 team depends on one thing. How they play in that first playoff game. They need to win it, or this edition of the Cowboys will leave behind a gloomy team portrait of failure, and for the second straight year, a team that showed early promise will have fizzled out over the 2nd half of the season. Bill Parcells would have to give a post-mortem on that one day, or else just walk off into the sunset without a word. Only he knows for sure, but that first playoff game could be a deciding factor in his future, it could be the last game he ever coaches. Maybe he wants to just go ahead and get there to see what happens, he wants to fast-forward a couple of weeks so he can decide his fate. So talking about what is now the "meaningless" Philadelphia game is just a waste of time, at least talking about it to us, the fans and the media. I'm sure his players are hearing about it in the film room, though.

So until that playoff game gets here, there's only one strategy for the Tuna - keep hope alive.