Cowboys hope to calm bumpy ride in home opener

ARLINGTON -- Morris Claiborne fears no receiver, but he admits he is "deathly scared" of roller coasters

"You have no control over it," the rookie cornerback explained. "It goes fast and just drops on you. Not fun."

Tell the Dallas Cowboys about it.

That has summed up their recent seasons -- up and down and up and down -- leaving their fans queasy far too often. It happened again last week.

With a chance to build on a season-opening, 24-17 upset of the defending Super Bowl champion Giants, the Cowboys were toppled by the Seattle Seahawks 27-7. They are among 20 teams that began the year 1-1, just like their opponent today, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"We thought we had a chance to go up there and win," Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee said. "We expected to go up there and win, and we didn't.... Everybody is going to lose this year. The best teams in the league learn from it and get better."

The Six Flags Texas Giant, with the steepest drop of any wooden coaster in the world, has nothing on the Cowboys.

In the past four seasons, the Cowboys have had two four-game winning streaks, two three-game winning streaks and four two-game winning streaks. They also have had a five-game losing streak and seven two-game losing streaks.

The rest has been "win one, lose one," which is why the Cowboys are 34-30 over the past four seasons with only one postseason appearance.

The Cowboys won only 14 games combined over the past two seasons. The Green Bay Packers had more victories (15) last season alone.

"We don't talk a lot about streaks," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. "We talk a lot about now. If you take care of the now over and over and over again, you typically get into a pretty good streak."

The Cowboys have a chance to get on a roll, whether they want to talk about it or not. They have back-to-back home games they will be favored to win.

"It's the same adage we've had all the time: You play the football game, and at the end of the year, you find out what kind of team you were," Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo said. "You're always trying to get better. There's only one team that's happy at the end of the year, and that's the team that won the Super Bowl. Everybody else is trying like heck to get there."

The best way to get there is to win at home.

Playoff teams were 72-24 at home last season and 71-25 at home in 2010. Over the past four seasons, only one team with a losing home record has made the playoffs. The Denver Broncos made the postseason last year, with an 8-8 record, after going only 3-5 at home.

Of the past 11 Super Bowl champions, only one had a losing record at home. The Giants did it the hard way in 2007, as a wild-card team, after going 3-5 at home.

"The big thing with making the playoffs is if you win all your home games," Cowboys defensive end Jason Hatcher said. "That's very important. You've got to win your home games, and then win a few on the road, and that'll allow you to get in at least as a wild card." Dallas did that at Texas Stadium, going 213-100 (.681) in 38 seasons playing in Irving.

Even though there is no place like Cowboys Stadium, the team has yet to create a home-field advantage in the $1.2 billion stadium. They are only 13-11 at home during the regular season in Arlington.

"We want to have a home-field advantage, but that starts with us winning games consistently," Lee said. "We've got to have that identity. When people come in here, they need to know its going to be a hard place to play, and it's going to be hard day."

So strap yourself in and hold on tight. This ride might be thrilling at times, and sometimes nauseating.

Charean Williams


Twitter: @NFLCharean

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