IRVING -- Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said all you need to know about his petrified mindset heading into Saturday's showdown against the Philadelphia Eagles at Cowboys Stadium.
As much as Jones believes the Cowboys can win their next two games to clinch the NFC East title, he is admittedly fearful of the Eagles -- especially quarterback Michael Vick and their potent offense.
He can't forget the 34-7 blowout loss to the Eagles in October when the Cowboys trailed 24-0 at halftime and were rendered helpless.
Vick passed for 279 yards and two touchdowns and added 50 more yards on the ground while running back LeSean McCoy had a career day with 185 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
Jones is very afraid it could happen again.
"Because it is the Eagles, and after the butt-kicking they gave us up in Philadelphia, I'm scared," Jones said Tuesday on his radio show on KRLD/105.3 FM. "It's that kind of feeling. The respect turns into being afraid of what they can do to you if you have some breakdowns out there. So you can put that scared there if you want to."
Coach Jason Garrett and the Cowboys certainly have a healthy respect for the Eagles' offense, but did their best to distance themselves from Jones' "scared" comment.
Garrett's smile was followed by moments of silence and then laughter when told what Jones said.
"That's Jerry," defensive end Jason Hatcher said. "I understand because he's the owner, he ain't gotta strap it up. We as players, we've got a chip on our shoulders, too. We're not scared of nobody. We're looking forward to the challenge."
As competitors, the Cowboys say they are looking forward to another opportunity to play against the Eagles' offense, which had its way against them like no other team this season.
The last time the Cowboys were so thoroughly routed was in a 45-7 pasting by the Green Bay Packers last season that led to the midseason firing of then coach and defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.
Making matters worse was that this season's loss at Philadelphia came after new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan had talked trash about being able to whip the Eagles. The Cowboys didn't come close as Ryan admitted he was thoroughly outcoached.
"They caught us with our pants down," defensive end Marcus Spears said. "We didn't play well. We didn't execute. They beat us. We won't play like the first game."
This time the Cowboys will throw out the faulty game plan they used when they were so concerned with Vick beating them deep with the big play that they were gashed underneath by the pass and the run.
"You have to look at it from a schematic standpoint because we didn't do well," linebacker Bradie James said. "We didn't play well. We don't need to do whatever we did. We need to come up with something different. We can't get too tentative trying to watch those guys and see what they are doing. We've got to go out there and play ball. That is what we did wrong the last time. We need to change the whole mind frame of our approach and what we did last time to this time."
One thing the Cowboys will have this time is a much healthier respect for McCoy. They were already wary of what Vick could do to them in the passing game with game-breaking receiver DeSean Jackson, who had four catches for 210 yards in a game against them in 2010.
The Cowboys went into the first matchup looking to stop the big play, allowing McCoy to a have a coming-out party that has yet to stop.
He is second in the NFL in rushing with 1,274 yards, has scored 20 total touchdowns and has 47 catches, becoming only the fourth player in NFL history to reach those single-season levels along with Cowboys Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith, Priest Holmes and LaDainian Tomlinson.
"He is the best running back in the league right now," James said. "I didn't know he was as good until we got out there and started playing them. He is the real deal. When McCoy gets the ball, he is dynamic. He is a great player. I don't know if we gave him enough credit before the last game. But the league knows now. Everybody knows."
Garrett was in full agreement on McCoy, who tests the edge of the defense because of his quickness and propensity to start on the front side and cut to the back side.
It all makes the Eagles a hard matchup because the Cowboys can't just focus on one thing, cornerback Mike Jenkins said.
"I think they're one of the hardest teams to match up with, not only with the speedy guys stretching the field; they have a great quarterback who's pretty much a running back," Jenkins said. "You've got to watch how you blitz against them and keep the containment against them. Then, you have the great running back such as McCoy who can break containment. There's going to be a lot of one-on-one battles."
Said Garrett: "We have to be good in all areas. We have to be good against the run. We have to prevent big plays. We can't let them drive the ball down the field. So we have to be at our best. They force you to do that."
While respectful, Garrett, unlike Jones, expressed no fear.
"We are excited about the plan we put together," Garrett said.
Clarence E. Hill Jr.