To let owner Jerry Jones tell it, the Dallas Cowboys did not lose to the New York Giants in the 2007 NFC Divisional playoffs because quarterback Tony Romo and tight end Jason Witten spent the wild-card bye week in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
It stands to reason that a weekend getting away from it all had no bearing on the outcome of a game that catapulted the Giants’ run to the Super Bowl title and left the Cowboys empty handed after a 13-3 season.
Nine years later, the Cowboys find themselves in a similar position with a team-record tying 13-3 mark, a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
While Romo is still on the team, these Cowboys are led by rookie quarterback Dak Prescott.
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Credited all season for his leadership and impressive maturity, Prescott was ready and waiting for questions about his bye-weekend plans.
“Nice try,” he responded. “Hanging out. Getting rested.”
How many times this week has he heard talk of Cabo?
“None,” he said, tongue firmly planted in cheek.
What about Miami?
“Zero,” Prescott said.
The truth is that Prescott, who grew up a Cowboys fan in Shreveport, La., has long known about the Cabo controversy.
He acknowledged earlier in the season that he had no intention of going on a trip if the Cowboys clinched a first-round bye.
There’s also no way he didn’t hear of the trip to Miami by Odell Beckham Jr. and other New York Giants receivers on their day off before starting practice for Sunday’s wild-card game against the Green Bay Packers.
But Prescott was playing it down the middle, as he has all season. He had no intention of giving rise to any controversy.
There is little chance any of these Cowboys will travel abroad during this bye weekend.
They have been told by coach Jason Garrett to get off their feet, but not lose their edge and focus.
That is a far cry from 2007 when coach Wade Phillips instructed the players to get as far away from football as possible.
Some Cowboys did and that’s all many remember.
The Cowboys learned from the experience. And they certainly are reminded about it.
Asked if the Cowboys were taking any trips this weekend, cornerback Brandon Carr said they can wait another month for a restful vacation.
“We’ve gotten this far,” Carr said. “It’s only 30 more days left of this thing and they go by pretty fast. Each week is important. These minutes, these seconds, these hours, are very, very important for your planning. It’s a bye week in a sense that we’re going to get off of our feet as much as we can and kind of rest up.
“At the same time, we’re still working. We’re still trying to sharpen ourselves and get better each and every day. At this time of the season, you can’t afford to take any more time off. We had our bye week and had our time off and guys are just eager for next week so we can have our shot at this thing.”
The Cowboys have a different approach for sure. The whole organization learned from the Cabo experience.
Garrett asked the players not to take a vacation to Mexico. But they already knew the message.
“We really just try to emphasize to our players to be the best versions of themselves in everything they do,” Garrett said. “And let all their decisions on and off the field follow that approach, and let that be your guidepost.”
The Cowboys have already let their conscience be their guide.
When not practicing, they will spend the week watching football, resting, and working on not losing their edge or focus.
Cabo? Nice try.