Print and Go Back BlogsColumns [Print without images]

Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Updated: January 14, 1:14 PM ET
Cowboys 5-1 on road when scoring first

By Calvin Watkins

IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys have a 12-4 road record in the team's two playoff seasons under coach Wade Phillips.

That record will be put to the test Sunday afternoon, when the Cowboys visit the Minnesota Vikings, who are 8-0 at the Metrodome this season and 14-2 over the past two seasons.

"It's a good environment of football," Vikings coach Brad Childress said in a conference call with reporters Wednesday. "Our guys are used to it, and it can get rocking and rolling. I anticipate that on Sunday."

Whether the Dome is loud or not, the Cowboys don't see it as a problem. After all, Dallas went 5-3 on the road in 2009 -- including three significant wins.

On Oct. 11, the Cowboys trailed Kansas City 13-3 in the third quarter and looked dead. But behind wide receiver Miles Austin, who had 10 catches for a franchise-record 250 yards and two touchdowns, the Cowboys rallied for a 26-20 overtime win.

On Nov. 8, the Cowboys visited the Eagles for the first time since Philadelphia prevented Dallas from clinching a playoff berth in the 2008 regular-season finale, creating numerous changes within the Cowboys organization.

But the Cowboys came out on top, beating the Eagles 20-16.

The Cowboys' last significant road victory this season came in New Orleans on Dec. 19. The Cowboys entered the game against the undefeated Saints with consecutive losses to start December. But outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware returned from a strained neck injury, and the inspired Cowboys beat the Saints 24-17.

Brooking I think you prepare with the mindset that we have to start fast and go for their heart immediately. Go for their heart early and just put that little bit of doubt in their minds. They're human.

-- Cowboys linebacker Keith Brooking

Several Cowboys players feel that victory in the Superdome, where it was loud for most of the game, will help them in the Metrodome.

"You got to have that confidence going into these away games because it will be a hostile atmosphere," Ware said. "We've been playing really well on the road, which is good because it brings us a little bit closer together. It lets everybody know it's not where you play, it's how your team combats all the adversity in that opposing team stadium."

Getting off to a fast start is crucial for the Cowboys, who were 5-1 on the road when they scored first this season. Dallas has scored on its first possession in four of the past five games, including the postseason.

Opponents, meanwhile, have not scored on their first possession since the Oakland Raiders did it versus the Cowboys on Nov. 26.

"I think you prepare with the mindset that we have to start fast and go for their heart immediately," inside linebacker Keith Brooking said. "Go for their heart early and just put that little bit of doubt in their minds.

"They're human. The human element is always there. The more doubt we can put in their minds early, the better off for us. And if that doesn't take place, be prepared for a 3½-hour battle."

Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPN Dallas. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.