Sunday, December 22, 2013
Welcome to FedEx Field
By Todd Archer
LANDOVER, Md. -- Welcome to FedEx Field where the Dallas Cowboys hope to keep their playoff hopes alive with a win against the Washington Redskins.
With a loss, the Cowboys would need the Philadelphia Eagles to lose to the Chicago Bears tonight in order to set up an NFC East title matchup on Dec. 29 at AT&T Stadium.
Bounce-back ability: Their December history has not been kind to the Cowboys, but they can draw on something positive from this season.
After losing 51-48 to the Denver Broncos on a last-second field goal, the Cowboys responded with a 31-16 win against the Redskins. After losing 31-30 to the Detroit Lions on a last-second touchdown, they responded with a 27-23 win against the Minnesota Vikings.
“I think it’s good for the guys to understand how we have everything in front of us,” quarterback Tony Romo said. “We have to play better than we’ve played. ... Everything that you’ve done this whole offseason and throughout the season is to build to this point. I think we have an opportunity to do something these next two weeks that get us in the playoffs and win the NFC East. And not a lot of teams can say that in our division right now. Two of them are done. Two of them have a chance.”
Belief in the QB: Romo threw two interceptions in the fourth quarter that led to the Green Bay Packers’ winning touchdown and ended the Cowboys’ chances for a comeback.
While those outside the building will say, "Same old Romo," those inside the building did nothing but profess their faith in Romo.
“I don’t think anyone would ever lose confidence in him,” Jason Witten said. “Everything we are and we’ve accomplished over the last few years that you believe in and you hold onto is because of him and what he creates week in and week out and day in and day out. I don’t think you look at a couple of plays and determine [he can’t play]. I think that’d be foolish for anybody to do that.”
Getting some stops: Kirk Cousins will be the fourth straight backup quarterback the Cowboys have faced. The last two – Josh McCown and Matt Flynn – threw four touchdown passes each. Cousins had 381 yards passing and three touchdowns in his first start last week against the Atlanta Falcons.
The Cowboys will welcome Bruce Carter back to the lineup, but rookie DeVonte Holloman will start his first game at middle linebacker with Sean Lee out. They hope DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher can pressure Cousins. They hope Brandon Carr, who missed two days of practice because of an illness, plays like he did in the first meeting versus Washington when he broke up three passes and had a tackle for loss.
Mostly they just hope because this has been a lost season for the defense.
What gives Monte Kiffin confidence?
“I walk in that room,” Kiffin said. “Whatever time we meet, 8:30 in the morning, it starts with Coach [Jason] Garrett. You go into your defensive room and you split up and away you go. You walk in, get your heads up, let’s go. That’s the way it works. We ain’t going to pout around. We’ll be ready to play.”