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Cowboys news: How Dallas is trying to make this year be the one that’s ‘different’

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NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Dallas Cowboys Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

If not now, when for Dak Prescott and a Cowboys Super Bowl? - Todd Archer, ESPN

Despite three consecutive postseason berths, the Cowboys need to capitalize on this playoff opportunity.

FRISCO, Texas — The words are there for all the Dallas Cowboys to see every day: Carpe Omnia.

Coach Mike McCarthy chose the Latin phrase “seize everything” as the Cowboys’ motto for 2023. It’s surrounded by a collage of images in the main hallway outside their locker room.

In the upper-left corner is a huddle full of Cowboys and the Vince Lombardi Trophy hanging over the group. In the middle are photos of the Cowboys’ five Super Bowl champion teams. A blank spot is left in the middle for the 2023 Cowboys.

“Credit Mike for making that the theme of this season, and it’s been something that we’ve pointed to at different parts of the year — and right now it’s bigger than ever,” quarterback Dak Prescott said.

These Cowboys have to seize everything as they start their postseason journey against the Green Bay Packers in the wild-card round Sunday (4:25 p.m. ET, Fox).

If not now, when?

This is their best chance in years to recapture that Super Bowl magic, in part because there isn’t an Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady or Drew Brees to go through. But when considering the Cowboys’ salary cap, impending free agent decisions, the draft, front office and coaching futures, this is an all-in postseason for Dallas.

That doesn’t mean the Cowboys will fall apart in 2024 and beyond, but windows of opportunity last only so long.

“This is why you play the game,” said cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who is back in the postseason for the first time since 2019 after winning a Super Bowl with the New England Patriots in 2018. “It’s do or die now.”

What’s the Cowboys’ mindset entering playoffs? It’s time to be selfish about winning - Jon Machota, The Athletic

Coach McCarthy feels his team has worked too hard to not take full advantage of where they are this season.

Mike McCarthy acknowledged Monday that he made a mistake last year before the Dallas Cowboys traveled to Green Bay. That Week 10 game was McCarthy’s first time facing his old team. Dallas lost 31-28 in overtime after leading by two touchdowns entering the fourth quarter.

“Last year, I thought it was important for me to talk (to the team) about Green Bay in the beginning of the week,” McCarthy said. “I regretted it. That doesn’t even need to come into our energy base. So, you live and learn.”

Why was that the wrong decision?

“It’s a players game,” McCarthy said. “It always has been, always will be. That’s all it should be focused on. I believe there’s 24 hours in a day, seven days to prepare, and if we’re not working on winning then it’s a waste of time. To put that on their hearts and felt they needed to speak on my behalf in the locker room, I won’t do that again.”

“I answered the questions honestly in here last year about my experience up there,” he said. “It just will not help us win. So, if it doesn’t help us win the game, I’m not interested in it. I apologize.”

McCarthy spoke to the team Monday about it being time for everyone to be selfish. Not necessarily on the field, but with their time devoted to winning and advancing.

“We’ve put so much into this season, getting ready for the season,” he said. “We’re right where we need to be. We need to take full advantage of that. That’s just really the tightness that we want and the commitment.”

Nick at Nite: What could go right? What could go wrong? - Nick Harris, DallasCowboys.com

There is plenty of good, and possibly some bad, going for the Cowboys ahead of this year’s playoff run.

FRISCO, Texas — Another year, and another playoff run is impending for the Dallas Cowboys. Fortunately for those in the building, this has become the norm under head coach Mike McCarthy, but the success in the postseason has yet to come to fruition.

Heading into the playoffs this time around, the setup couldn’t be any better for the Cowboys to make their deepest postseason run since 1995. They are guaranteed at least two home playoff games in the Wild Card and Divisional Rounds, they get to avoid the San Francisco 49ers until a potential NFC Championship Game, and they get to duck the hottest team in the NFC in the Los Angeles Rams until a potential conference championship as well.

It’s all aligned for the Cowboys to make a deep run and contend for not only an NFC title but also a Super Bowl. However, certain things still stand in their way.

Let’s dive into the positive. What could go right for the Cowboys and what could help them get to that game in Las Vegas a month from now?

I think the obvious starts with the most reliable and consistent thing that a Cowboys team has had in some time: the connection between Dak Prescott and CeeDee Lamb.

It’s already been solidified as the best quarterback-to-receiver connection in franchise history with Lamb’s multiple franchise records, and it has the potential to be a postseason staple in 2023.

“We got 4 and 88, that’s enough hope for me,” safety Jayron Kearse said on Monday. “That’s the best quarterback-receiver duo in the league.”

Winning the time of possession battle has been critical in determining the outcome of games this season with the Cowboys going 8-2 when winning that stat category. When possessing the ball for more than 35 minutes, that number is a pure 6-0.

The Packers defense is adept at not allowing explosive pass plays – sitting in the top ten of 20-plus yard pass plays allowed this season – and it’s a result of their zone shell defense looks that keep everything underneath and force opposing offenses to work their pass game in the short-to-intermediate game. With as fast as Dak Prescott and this offense likes to get the ball out, that works perfectly. That will only help sustain long drives and take big chunks off the clock as a result.

As for the negative, certain crutches still linger around the team and weaknesses still exist with a couple of the most glaring ones being penalties and offensive production in the middle portion of the game.

The Cowboys enter the playoffs as the second-highest penalized team in all of the NFL and the highest of all playoff teams. Those infractions have come in the form of discipline fouls (offsides, false starts, roughing the passer/kicker, etc.) and in the form of gameplay physicality (facemasks, holding, etc.). It seems as though when it rains yellow, it pours yellow for the Cowboys – although the final stretch of the season could give some confidence for what’s ahead (4.3 penalties per game in final three games).

Mike McCarthy on first playoff matchup vs. Packers: ‘I’m a Dallas Cowboy’ - Garrett Podell, CBS Sports

Everyone in Dallas knows why this game really means more... it’s the playoffs.

After speaking to the Cowboys a year ago prior to the matchup about what it meant to him, McCarthy won’t be looking back at his time with the Packers again. However, he won’t be able to stop his wife Jessica, who is from Green Bay, and his children who were born and raised there from doing so this week.

“I’ve got a wife and three daughters, obviously two sons, but I can’t win in that house,” McCarthy said when asked how he stops his family from being nostalgic and if his family is Packers or Cowboys fans. … “That’s a great question. Yeah, I think the biggest thing is playoff time, and we talked about it at the team meeting today [on Monday], this is a time for all of us to be selfish. Every player. Every coach. Every support staff member. Because we’ve put so much into this season, getting ready for the season.

His players still have the personal importance of what Sunday’s game means for their head coach near the top of their minds even with the continuation of their 2023 season hanging in the balance, hinging on the outcome of the game against Green Bay.

“It’s huge, I’m pretty sure there’s going to be a lot of emotion with Coach McCarthy and rightfully so,” safety Jayron Kearse said Monday on a conference call. “He won a Super Bowl there, had some great years there. To play them in this wild card game, I know it’s going to be huge for him. I’m pretty sure he won’t let that get in the way of the things that we have to do. Understanding that we’re here for one reason, and it’s not Mike McCarthy vs. Green Bay. It’s the Dallas Cowboys vs. the Green Bay Packers. We want go out here and win this thing for coach, but we understand this is just a team in our way. Let’s not make this a bigger deal than what it is. It’s the playoffs, it’s huge enough. Let’s not put anything else on it. Let’s just go out there and handle business because that’s what we have to do in order to achieve the things we set out to achieve at the beginning of the year.”

Here are the first injury reports for both the Cowboys and Packers ahead of their Wild Card matchup.

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