IRVING, Texas - Stars, stars, stars. Everywhere you look, the Dallas Cowboys are all about the stars.

There's the logo on their helmets, and there's the giant one in the middle of their home turf. Another, made of diamonds, can always be found on the lapel of owner Jerry Jones.

And, of course, the stars are all over the roster.

There's Tony Romo, the quarterback with the aw-shucks demeanor and starlet girlfriend.

There's wide receiver Terrell Owens, playing the star-crossed role of "T.O." - sometimes the hero, sometimes the villain, always the center of attention.

There's Adam Jones, the player who answers to "Pacman," who has made more headlines for a bathroom brawl and a neck injury than for anything he's done at cornerback.

But the stars haven't exactly aligned for the Cowboys this season.

Despite returning 13 Pro Bowlers from last year's 13-win club, Dallas has reached the finale of an up-and-down season needing to win Sunday against the Eagles just to make the playoffs.

Lose and the Cowboys will have gone as far as Detroit. That might sound like a cheap shot, except it comes from wide receiver Roy Williams, the latest star added to the Cowboys' galaxy.

He arrived in October from the winless Lions and was counting on making the playoffs for the first time in his career, but now he's bracing for his usual long off-season.

Williams said teammates "joke about me with the 0-16 Detroit thing, and I just told them, 'If we don't win this game, we're all in the same boat. We both are going to be watching the same playoff game next week.'

"They all understood that. That put it in perspective."

So does this: The Cowboys need four straight wins to make the Super Bowl, and five in a row to win it all. Their longest winning streak so far is three games.

That's not to say it can't be done. Just look at the surge the New York Giants had in the last postseason.

Dallas has the talent to pull it off, or else it wouldn't even be this close to the postseason after all the injuries and infighting. In fact, the Cowboys have played their best in games they absolutely had to win to keep their playoff hopes alive.

They knocked off Tampa Bay without Romo, and that would be the difference in a tiebreaker with the Buccaneers. They won at Washington in Romo's return, avoiding a dip to 5-5. They bounced back from a blown late lead in Pittsburgh and a week of tabloidesque drama to beat the Giants.

A loss to Baltimore on Saturday night was supposed to hurt the Cowboys' chances, but the right combination of results Sunday kept a playoff seat warm for them. Win and they're in, no scoreboard-watching necessary.

Still, the question remains: Even if they get it together against the Eagles, can they keep it together through February?

"It'll be fun to see how this thing shapes out," Romo said.

If the Cowboys don't reach the NFC championship, they'll be branded underachievers.

If they get that far, or all the way to Tampa, the struggles of the last few months will go down as character-building. The adversity that could have torn them apart will be viewed as having instead made them stronger.

"Here's an easy analogy: Joe Montana wasn't Joe Montana before he won a Super Bowl," Romo said. "Everybody probably questioned them at that time. 'Do they have the quarterback to go win a Super Bowl?' I mean, the Giants, their coach was fired at this point last year, maybe. Eli [Manning] wasn't a great leader, I heard. It is what it is until you win.