NEW YORK (AP) _ ``Monday Night Football'' got its third straight close finish, and the ratings were better than last year's same-week game for the first time this season.

ABC's telecast of the Dallas Cowboys' 27-21 victory over the Washington Redskins drew a national rating of 13.5 with a 23 share.

That's slightly better than the 13.3 the network got for Week 3 in 1999 (when the 49ers played the Cardinals), and the 13.1 for Week 3 two years ago (when the Cowboys played the Giants).

In contrast, last week's ``Monday Night Football'' broadcast received a 12.2 national rating, a 20 percent drop from the year before. Week 1's show was off 5 percent from the 1999 opener.

``Monday Night Football'' added comedian Dennis Miller and other new cast members in an effort to reverse five straight years of sliding ratings.

Through three games, the program is averaging a 13.7 rating with a 24 share. That is 8 percent lower than last year's 14.9/25 through Week 3, and just above the 13.6 from 1998 _ the last time the NFL season started on Labor Day weekend.

Unlike the past two years, the show must contend with the Summer Olympics. This week and next, ``Monday Night Football'' airs opposite NBC's taped coverage of the Sydney Games.

Each rating point represents 1,008,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation's estimated 100.8 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given program.