IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones does not regret using the word "scared" on his weekly radio show when describing his feelings about Saturday's opponent, Philadelphia.
He does not believe what he said was interpreted correctly, however.
"Afraid of messing up has caused me to be more conscientious, has caused me to be more prepared," Jones said outside the team's weight room following a late-morning workout Thursday. "I've said that all my life. Fear is a great motivator. Great. And especially in this sport."
Jones was not attempting to send any message to his players. He was just remembering how poorly things went in the 34-7 loss to the Eagles on Oct. 30 at Lincoln Financial Field.
"I must tell you, I get pretty excited every game we play," Jones said. "That's never stopped. But when you get here, you're in contention, it's what you hope for, you've got reasonably good health out there.
"It's kinda like laying there the night before Santa Claus comes. It's an exciting time. It's hard to sleep. But it's a good deal. It's not a negative deal and carries with it all the emotion of what's at stake for us. You're allowed, I think, to look ahead to Santa Claus coming this time of year. I do that when I think about our team and where we are."
The Cowboys will know before kickoff whether they can clinch the NFC East with a win, which will be the case if the New York Giants lose earlier Saturday to the New York Jets. While coach Jason Garrett will not scoreboard watch, Jones will be a keen observer of the Giants-Jets game.
"Well, I'll whisper in their ear for them," Jones said. "But we're all interested in how that game comes out and that's natural. I know our fans are and we are, and of course [it] creates an interesting dynamic there for our last couple of games. I'm certainly looking with interest at that ballgame."
Being 8-6 and in position to make the playoffs beats where the Cowboys were last year at this time. Jones fired Wade Phillips after a 1-7 start and the Cowboys were out of playoff contention before the weather turned cold.
"I feel like it was yesterday and I have a feeling that our team, everybody that went through last year, remembers those feelings," Jones said. "It's an empty feeling and you've got to manufacture some cheer when you're dealing with that situation, when you know you're basically through. We don't have that now. I think that provides inspiration and relates to your effort on the field. I really admire teams that step out. ... I just want to be having this feeling in January."
Todd Archer covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.