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Sunday, December 22, 2013
Dallas with third try to win division in finale

By Todd Archer

LANDOVER, Md. -- Stop if you heard this one before: The Dallas Cowboys will be playing for a playoff spot in Week 17.

With Sunday’s 24-23 win against the Washington Redskins, the Cowboys set up a winner-take-all season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles on Dec. 29 at AT&T Stadium.

“We understand the nature of an NFL season,” coach Jason Garrett said. “Every team goes through a lot of highs and lows, you have to deal with some successes and adversities over the course of the season and the teams that are mentally strong enough to deal with that and keep going forward are the ones that are around at the end of the year. We understand that. A lot of different things have happened to us that have been really good for our team. Some things we had to fight through – injuries, different guys playing and at no point has anybody blinked. You just keep going, you keep playing, you keep trying to give yourself a chance.”

Unlike 2011 and ’12, the Cowboys will play this game at home. They lost 31-14 at MetLife Stadium to the New York Giants in 2011 and last year at FedEx Field to the Redskins 28-18 to finish 8-8 both times.

“It will feel very similar to what today felt like,” quarterback Tony Romo said. “Today we felt like we were playing for everything. Next week will be the same thing so we’ll go do it again.”

Romo will undergo an MRI on his back on Monday, but he expects to play against the Eagles. The Cowboys could also see the return of linebacker Sean Lee (neck) and cornerback Morris Claiborne (hamstring).

When the schedule came out last spring, there was a sense that the finale would mean everything. Again.

“That's not the way you draw it up,” tight end Jason Witten said. “It seems like that is the way it’s gone the last few years. It is what it is. It’s a tough division. You find yourself in this situation. You got to just live for this moment and play your best football this week. And I have said this before [but] each year is different. The last two years we haven't executed well enough in those games to allow us to win.

The next six days are going to be critical on focusing on Philly and what's going to allow us to win and then go play good football.”