Bill Parcells has built a team out of a travesty.

He's won so much so quickly after taking control of a troubled franchise that he was named The Associated Press coach of the year today in his second season with the New England Patriots.He came with a reputation as shiny as his two Super Bowl rings - a solid tactician, a master motivator and a winner. But he says he had to prove himself to his new players.

"They have to know that the coach cares about winning and will not accept losing," Parcells said. "I will not accept it. I might have to put up with it for a while, but I will not accept it."

Fans, starved for a successful team, see him as a savior.

"I don't know anything about that," defensive end Mike Pitts said. "But I know right now he's the best thing going for this franchise."

Two years after going 2-14, their fourth straight losing record, the Patriots are in the playoffs for the first time in eight years. Their current seven-game winning streak tied the team record.

It is a shocking turnaround for a club that was 14-50 in the four seasons before Parcells arrived. It is 14-6 in its last 20 games. Only Dallas, at 16-4, has been better over that regular-season stretch.