IRVING, Texas (AP)—Bill Parcells wants to develop Drew Henson into an NFL quarterback and he wants to win games. If he has to pick one, he’ll take winning every time.
So with the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears playing terribly and tied at halftime, Parcells decided he’d seen enough from the rookie. He pulled Henson from his first start, turned to Vinny Testaverde and walked away smiling with a 21-7 victory Thursday, ending a three-game losing streak and winning for just the second time since September.
“I’m going to relax and enjoy this,” Parcells said. “I didn’t know whether we were going to get another one or not for a while.”
At least the Cowboys (4-7) came away feeling good about one youngster on offense, running back Julius Jones. The second-round pick from Notre Dame followed his 81-yard, 30-carry performance in his starting debut last Sunday with 150 yards and two touchdowns on 33 carries.
This game was going to be memorable for Jones regardless of the outcome because he was starting against his big brother, Chicago running back Thomas Jones. That Jones was the best thing the Bears (4-7) had on offense, too, but his 46 yards on 14 carries and 48 more on six receptions weren’t enough.
When time expired, they shared a long hug, with Thomas holding Julius’ head and whispering congratulations into his ear. They then smiled and posed for pictures.
“It was really a blessing for me to be out there and playing with my brother and having all my family watching me,” Julius Jones said. “It’s something we dreamed about.”
Henson also dreamed about this opportunity, his first NFL start and his first in a meaningful game since the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1, 2001, when he was a junior at Michigan. He spent the last three years playing baseball in the New York Yankees organization, then decided to return to football late last year.
He made his debut five days earlier, going 6-for-6 with a touchdown at the end of a lopsided loss after Testaverde was hurt. Parcells was reluctant to start Henson, but had to give him most of the work in practice while Testaverde rested.
Henson seemed to pick up where he’d left off, leading a 62-yard, five-play drive that included a nifty 33-yard touchdown run by Julius Jones. But the only points Henson produced the rest of the half were for Chicago—an interception that R.W. McQuarters returned 45 yards for touchdown.
Henson went into halftime 4-of-12 for 31 yards. Parcells told him, “Good job,” and that he was going with Testaverde.
Henson spent the second half mostly standing alone, flipping through overhead pictures and listening to play calls by holding his helmet to his ear.
“You go in and try not to make mistakes, but the times that you do, you just learn from it,” Henson said. “There were a couple of throws I’d like back, but we got out of here with a win. That’s something to build on.”
The way Dallas has been playing, fans would gladly trade losses to get experience for Henson. He got the loudest cheers in pregame introductions and Testaverde was booed when he took over. One fan even held up a “Where’s Drew?” sign during the third quarter.
“I know everyone has been clamoring for this. I don’t care,” Parcells said. “I’ve got other peoples’ interests to consider. I really don’t care. I’m going to do what I think is best.”
Testavede started slowly, then in the fourth quarter capped a Julius Jones-led drive with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Darian Barnes. An interception on Chicago’s next snap brought the Cowboys right back on the field and soon after Jones scampered four yards up the middle for his second touchdown. Testaverde finished 9-of-14 for 92 yards.
Parcells wouldn’t say who will start next at quarterback, but he has until a week from Monday night to decide.
The Bears lost their second straight since winning three in a row. Again, an ineffective offense was mostly to blame.
Rookie QB Craig Krenzel went 5-for-10 for 46 yards, then left with a sprained ankle midway through the second quarter. Replacement Jonathan Quinn was 10-of-21 for 86 yards with two interceptions, both in the fourth quarter.
Bears coach Lovie Smith is so exasperated by his quarterback play that jokingly asked a reporter, “Can you play quarterback?”
“The defense kept us in it,” Smith said. “We had a chance to win.”
Chicago could’ve gone up 10-7 in the third quarter, but Paul Edinger missed a 48-yard field goal. The Bears also wasted another 45-yard interception return by McQuarters when he fumbled the ball back to Dallas.
Barnes became the 62nd different player Testaverde has thrown a touchdown pass to, tying the NFL record set by Steve DeBerg. … Opposing defenses have scored against Dallas in four of the last five games. … The play of the game came late in the first half, when a pass bounced off the hands of Chicago’s Thomas Jones, was batted by Dallas’ Dexter Coakley then was caught by Jones for a 17-yard gain.