By JAIME ARON
AP Sports Writer
IRVING, Texas -- Wade Phillips already thought the Dallas Cowboys had the kind of players that supported each other in bad times as well as the good ones they enjoyed the first month of the season.
Now he has proof.
His Cowboys didn't crack Monday night, despite plenty of forehead-slapping moments -- from Tony Romo throwing five interceptions to Romo losing a fumble, from Terrell Owens dropping a tying 2-point conversion pass to Owens dropping a long pass that might've set up a short field goal for the win, from the special teams allowing a kickoff return for a touchdown to blazing-but-injured cornerback Terence Newman getting caught from behind on an interception return.
They hung close enough to make a last-minute push, then had to keep hanging on when Nick Folk's 53-yard field goal to win it was called off because the Buffalo Bills sneaked in a timeout just before the snap.
Forced to do it again, the rookie did, giving Dallas a stunning 25-24 victory and a 5-0 record for the first time since 1983.
Perhaps just as importantly, the whole experience proved to be a bonding moment, the kind of plucky comeback that makes players, coaches and fans think this team might have more magical moments in store.
"Our guys never gave up," Phillips said Tuesday afternoon, looking relaxed despite the team plane arriving at 4 a.m. and him being back at work around four hours later. "They believed they could win and went out and did it. Stats and all that mean certain things, but really it's the heart-of-a-champion kind of thing."
The Cowboys hardly were tested the first four games, winning each by at least 10 points. Against the Bills, they never led until the final second.
"We know every game's not going to be a 10-point or a 20-point win," Phillips said. "When those things come up, you play close games, you've got to win a good percentage of those. Then, just saying you believe in each other is important -- but winning goes with it. If you win, you believe more. I think that helps."
It sure can't hurt.
"Obviously, a lot of luck there and a lot of things went our way," tight end Jason Witten said Monday night. "But this team never really gives up, and that shows a lot."
Next up for the Cowboys are the New England Patriots, also 5-0. Plenty will be said and done to hype this rare matchup of unbeatens so deep into the season, but Tuesday was all about reliving the glory of Monday night, in part because players had the day off, as usual. They'll return Wednesday, but won't practice in pads, a concession to being two days removed from a game.
Film review of the Bills game likely will help refocus. Especially Romo.
The NFC's offensive player of the month for September, his first two passes in October were intercepted, one of them returned for a touchdown. By halftime, he'd thrown two more interceptions, yielding another touchdown for Buffalo.
Phillips said Romo may have make the mistake of "trying to make big plays ... rather than just keep making plays." He added that coaches never considered turning to backup Brad Johnson.
"I just think he had a bad day," Phillips said. "I will say this for him: At the end of the game he was still in there. That is what we preach. No matter what the stats are the most important thing is winning the game."
Bill Parcells liked to say you learn a lot by how a quarterback responds to a bad game. Romo hasn't had many and this time he's fortunate enough to have come away with a victory.
"My confidence doesn't waver. That's the one thing I learned from Bill and everybody else," Romo said. "Wade says it all the time, too -- you've got to keep going. Not everything is going to go your way. Some of the picks were completely just dumb throws or dumb decisions, a couple of them just (bad throws). They all came on a day they all wanted to happen, I guess."
After the game, Phillips said he was trying to think of a word to describe what happened. The one he came up with was "wonderment," which reminded him of "The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid," a 1972 movie featuring Robert Duvall as Jesse James and Cliff Robertson as fellow outlaw Cole Younger.
Younger was shot repeatedly in a scene, but didn't die. He ended up going to prison for 25 years, then once released went touring in a wild West show.
"That's about how it went with us," Phillips said. "We felt like we got shot about 16 times and we lived through it, so it was a wonderment."