Despite coming into Saturday's playoff showdown against the Eagles with the momentum of last week's 24-0 drubbing on their side, the Dallas Cowboys seem to have a lot of unanswered questions on their plate. The Cowboys haven't won a playoff game since 1996, quarterback Tony Romo has never won a playoff game and head coach Wade Phillips carried a career 0-4 playoff record into the divisional rematch.
"We keep hearing how many times (we've) lost in the playoffs or haven't won in the playoffs in however many years," Phillips said on his conference call with Philadelphia reporters. It's the "same as you can't win at the end of the year. We heard that throughout the season. (The Cowboys had lost) nine straight on the last game of the season. So we've been taking care of some of those ghosts."
Phillips said that his team hasn't worried about the franchise's recent track record in late-season games, and have focused instead merely on each week's opponent.
"This team doesn't pay attention to a whole lot of that stuff really," he said. "They're real focused on what they're doing. They don't seem to think about it a whole lot."
With the third matchup between the Eagles and Cowboys this season on the horizon, Phillips also said that his team is not in danger of overlooking the team they shut out in Dallas last weekend.
"I don't foresee our team being overconfident," he said. "I think we are confident, but I don't know if it would be overconfident. I don't think any team can be overconfident in the playoffs because we've seen anybody win. We've seen the top seed in the NFC has been beat the last two years."
The Cowboys bounced back from a disheartening end to the 2008 season, when they lost 44-6 to the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on the season's final day, with a playoff spot on the line. The Cowboys went 11-5, won the NFC East for the second time in three years, and took revenge on the Eagles by sweeping the regular season series. But facing a team in back-to-back weeks presents an odd scenario for both sides.
"I mean, we're just trying to approach it the same way we did the last game," Phillips said. "We know this is the playoffs and one-and-out if you don't win, so that's the urgency of all of it.
One of the keys to the outcome of last week's game was the Cowboys' dominance in the ground game. Dallas running backs Felix Jones and Marion Barber led the Cowboys to 179 yards rushing, the highest total the Eagles' defense gave up all season on the ground.
"That's what we tried to emphasize this year is the running game, to get the running game up there in the top ten," said Phillips. The Cowboys finished the regular season second in the NFL with 4.8 yards per rushing play. "We've been a good passing team the previous two years, but our running game hasn't been as strong and this year we've had a better running game."
Phillips said that his team will rely on outplaying, and not outscheming, the Eagles when they try to break the string of their recent playoff failures.
The Eagles "have earned their right to be where they are this season, so we respect them a whole lot," Phillips said. "It's a playoff game. It's a game against a division (opponent), so there aren't too many adjustments you can make."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 3:11 p.m., January 8