The Dallas Cowboys entered Sunday’s game with nothing more to play for in the regular season. They already had clinched the top seed and all the perks that go along with having the NFC’s best record.
But everything they do from now on does.
“Focus on what is happening going forward,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said of his message to his team. “The only thing that matters is what we do now. We have put ourselves in a great position, and it is time to get back to work.”
Linebacker Sean Lee and running back Ezekiel Elliott didn’t play. Quarterback Dak Prescott didn’t play long, and receiver Dez Bryant and tight end Jason Witten didn’t play much longer.
In two weeks, the Cowboys promise to be rested and ready for whoever comes to AT&T Stadium.
The only thing that matters is what we do now. We have put ourselves in a great position, and it is time to get back to work.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett
“You’ve got to go all in,” said Witten, who caught only one pass for 10 yards, falling 17 yards short of setting the team record for all-time receiving yards. “You’ve got to make sacrifices and commitments over these next few weeks. It’s not just another week. Everything tightens up. This is win-or-go-home, and I think our team has a clear understanding of that, and we’ll get back on it.”
The Cowboys will have a few days off at the beginning of the week, a few days off at the end of the week and will work hard preparing in the middle of the week.
After 13 victories, 23 touchdowns and a 104.9 passer rating from Prescott, a league-leading 1,631 rushing yards by Elliott and 36 sacks by the defense, the Cowboys have done all they can do in the regular season.
“Looking forward,” Prescott said. “Just completely have our eyes on the playoffs. Our next opponent whenever we figure that out and just what we could through this week and throughout next week to get better. To make sure that we are in a good position and that we are ready for the playoff game.”
The only thing the Cowboys didn’t do Sunday was establish a team record for most victories in a season. Instead, they tied the 1992 and 2007 teams with 13 wins.
This is win-or-go-home, and I think our team has a clear understanding of that, and we’ll get back on it.
Cowboys tight end Jason Witten
“That would have been nice to have,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “But the cost was really too high if keeping Dak, Tony [Romo] or keeping them in there for the entire game and basically playing some of the guys we didn’t play on defense and really keeping more of our offensive guys in there longer. It’s just that at the end of the day it was not worth it.”
Charean Williams: 817-390-7760, @NFLCharean