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Dak Prescott urging Cowboys to 'get the momentum going' ahead of playoff run

It’s funny to say for a team that’s 11-4, but the Cowboys are in a slippery  spot.

Yes, they’re guaranteed an appearance in the playoffs. And the math says it would be difficult to materially improve their seeding over their final two contests. There is still a chance, though, and that means they’ll be forced to keep their foot on the gas as they prepare to kick off Week 17 of the regular season schedule.

Against a team that has almost no real motivation to win.

But quarterback Dak Prescott has witnessed his Cowboys squads crumble down the stretch in years past. So none of that, he says, makes it any more difficult to keep up the intensity for the game right in front of him.

“Not at all. I honestly don’t ever really care what they’re doing on the other side,” Prescott told reporters Wednesday at the team facility. “It’s about us just building momentum, grabbing confidence with each game that we do [have], and just moving forward as we play these last two out and head over into the postseason.”

While the Cowboys got a big boost in handing the rival Eagles their second loss of the year on Christmas Eve, the team’s December body of work is actually a little shaky.

There was the gut-punch overtime loss to Jacksonville just 10 days ago, when Dallas blew a 17-point lead against a 5-8 squad. Before that, a four-point squeaker over a one-win Texans team that required an epic goal-line stand and a nearly-perfect final offensive drive. And one week prior, there was the game against the Colts, in which it took the Cowboys three full quarters to pull away from a four-win team with an interim head coach who got the job on a cold call.

The Cowboys are capable of beating anybody right now, but they still need to prove they can come out and control a game instead of just waiting for the opponent to screw up. Prescott talks about building momentum going into the tournament, but whether they really even have it yet is debatable.

“It’s not necessarily in our hands to control,” he continued. “For me, it’s about worrying about this week right now, what’s at hand. Tennessee Titans here in a couple of days. Making sure that we go out there and control what we can, and that’s winning this game and being prepared and making sure that we’re just continuing to build off of last game, really, and just make sure- as I said before- getting this momentum going in the right way, in the right direction. All the confidence you get from each and every win and move forward on that.”

The Titans are likely to sit most of their key personnel, with the AFC South set to be decided by their season finale, no matter what happens Thursday.

That could give Prescott an opportunity to have a big night against a Tennessee pass defense that- at full strength- has been giving up nearly 280 yards per game through the air this season, the second-worst mark in the league.

The Cowboys’ signal-caller is looking at it as an opportunity to fine-tune the air attack further. Michael Gallup has caught just 27 balls from Prescott since both returned from injuries. James Washington didn’t see any live action until Week 14. T.Y. Hilton has been on the active roster for five days.

The calendar says it’s late December, but Prescott and most of his WR corps are still very much feeling each other out.

“We’re going to take any game that we can get that can continue to help us grab the confidence, get the momentum going,” the two-time Pro Bowler said. “I feel confident in the group that we have, what we’re able to do, what we’ve been able to do, what we’re going to do moving forward. But at the same point, it’s about communicating, making sure we’re detailed as hell in everything that we can [be], and getting two more good games at that is going to be great for us as we move forward.”

It’s the details that doomed the Cowboys in their last postseason showing. Without directly referencing it, Prescott alluded to the team’s discombobulated ouster from the 2021 wild card round, when time literally ran out on their playoff run just 24 yards from the end zone.

To avoid a repeat this January, Prescott and the Cowboys are focusing on communication and attention to detail. It can be challenging to keep those skills sharp this time of year as injuries, the exponential grind of a long season, and an often-wonky schedule can make it easier to fall into sloppy habits.

“With the way the practice schedule has been, you’re not getting as many
physical reps. So you’ve got to make sure that you’re talking over all these things, being on the same page. That’s what I’m doing after pretty much each play, even if it’s a good play: going and complimenting a guy on that, or saying how he can do better, or what I expect from him, or what he can expect from the defense to make sure that when these opportunities come up, we’re on it,” Prescott explained.

“Sometimes it takes what happened last year for guys to really understand the importance of that.”

So as Prescott and the Cowboys head out for what could be a long stretch of road games that they hope extends into February, they’ll look to set the tone this week against the Titans.

“For us to get to where we want to go, we’ve got to play some tough games, against some great opponents, and win them. And that’s really the only thing that matters,” he told reporters. “With the way this team is built, we’re fine if it’s on the road, if it’s in different elements. Our communication is great. So it’s not daunting at all. It’s fun, but in the meantime, we’re gonna stay where our feet are and worry about this Thursday in Tennessee.”

Even if that means going all-out against an opponent who is saving it up for next week.

“If they want to roll us the ball a couple of times and let us go from there, I’m all for that,” Prescott joked. “We’ll take it however they want to do it.”


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