Sports

Coach Parcells ponders future

SEATTLE (AP) — If Bill Parcells needs a reason to come back in 2007, he has plenty to choose from.

Can he really leave the Dallas Cowboys after getting this close to a playoff breakthrough?

Does he really want to end his career with the final memory being the botched hold of a short field goal?

And would he really trust someone else to help his new quarterback get over the most excruciating ending to a Cowboys playoff game since Dwight Clark make “The Catch” in 1981?

Maybe.

Parcells was in no mood to discuss his future following a 21-20 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in a wild-card game Saturday night. Losing was tough enough, but the way it happened — with Tony Romo bobbling a snap, preventing Martin Gramatica from attempting the winning kick, then getting tackled just shy of both a first down and the goal-line — has to rank among the toughest in his career.

“You got to finish the games,” he said. “We just didn’t do it.”

The Cowboys remain without a post-season win since 1996, extending the longest drought in team history. Parcells hasn’t won a playoff game since 1998; he’s lost his last three (one with the Jets in ’98, two with Dallas) after never even having back-to-back post-season losses.

His career record in Dallas is 34-32, but he’s certainly made the franchise better, which was his initial promise when Jerry Jones lured him out of retirement in 2003.

Still, without a playoff win, he hasn’t truly restored glory to this once-proud franchise.

“I know we have a better team, competitively, than what we had in the past,” he said. “I know that.”

The 65-year-old Parcells has a year left on his contract. Jones has made it clear he wants Parcells to return.

“I’m going to take a look at things,” Parcells said. “Take a look at what we need to do and see where we go.”

One thing that is decided: Romo will be the starting quarterback in 2007. Parcells and Jones both said so.

“I’m real positive about where we are at quarterback,” Jones said. “Understanding how the NFL is today, then my sense is that we have an excellent opportunity to be a contender next year.”

Jones was among those trying to console Romo in the locker-room. Everyone seemed to pass along the same two thoughts: Dallas wouldn’t have even been in the playoffs without him; and, as bad as it feels now, “living through highs and lows, that does and can make you better,” Jones said.

Encouraging words can only help Romo so much. It’s going to take time to get over this blunder.

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