IRVING -- The Dallas Cowboys are using all the usual clichés about the regular-season finale Sunday night at MetLife Stadium.
"Do or die." "Win or go home."
Both were said in the Cowboys' locker room on Wednesday.
The Cowboys (8-7) are excited about the opportunity and confident in their ability to take care of business against the New York Giants (8-7) in the winner-take-all showdown for the NFC East title.
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"I have seen a lot," said coach Jason Garrett, when asked what he bases his confidence on. "I have seen us play a lot of really good games. I have seen a lot of resiliency in our team. We have had some good wins. We have had some disappointing losses. We keep coming back and putting ourselves in position. We have earned the right to play in this game for the division title."
Said linebacker Bradie James: "Confidence? If you don't have any confidence, you shouldn't be here. That's our solution. Like I said, everybody has jobs, you guys have a job, I have a job, my job is to go out there and help this team win, all of us. We're confident. It's win or go home."
Based on recent and past history, it's a legitimate question as to whether the Cowboys truly are confident or it's false bravado.
As former coach Bill Parcells coach used to say, "Confidence is based on demonstrated ability."
These Cowboys don't have a lot of history of coming up big when it matters most.
Dating to 2006, the Cowboys are 13-18 in December and January, including the playoffs.
They have lost their past six games under the prime-time glare of Sunday Night Football, including three times this season.
And they have lost four of their past five and six of their past eight games to the Giants.
That's in addition to five of their seven losses this season being fourth-quarter meltdowns after blowing leads in the final stanza.
It happened twice in December, most recently when they blew a 12-point lead in the final 5:41 in a 37-34 loss to the Giants Dec. 13.
More pointedly, the last time the Cowboys were in a similar situation was in 2008, when they traveled to Philadelphia for the regular-season finale with the winner earning the final NFC wild-card spot. The final score was Philadelphia 44, Dallas 6.
So what exactly gives them confidence they can finish now?
"You don't look at it that way," tight end Jason Witten said. "There is no question we haven't met the expectations of Super Bowls and all that. I'm not denying that.
"This is a one-game opportunity. We believe we are a good team. I don't believe confidence is a concern. It's just going out executing."
The Cowboys are also confident because they believe they have addressed some of the defensive issues that plagued them in the first game against the Giants.
The presence and availability of quarterback Tony Romo, who was playing the best football of his career before suffering a bruised hand against the Eagles on Saturday, also engendered positive feelings. Romo practiced on a limited basis Wednesday, but is expected to play.
But most important, the Cowboys are basing their hopes on will, heart and determination. They know jobs are on the line. Legacies and reputations could be upheld or altered by the outcome.
"You're judged by stats and wins and losses, and Romo and I were talking about that," James said. "We've won some of these games and we've lost some of these games. We've been disappointed and dealing with that disappointment. The only way you can right those disappointments is to go out here and win."
Clarence E. Hill Jr.