NFL Wire News

No carrot, but Cowboys will put up a beef


IRVING, Texas — Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett says he is heading into the regular-season finale against the Washington Redskins with the mindset of playing to win.

The Cowboys (11-4) essentially have nothing to play for against the Redskins (4-11).

There is an outside chance Dallas could earn a first-round postseason bye and an even longer chance they could get home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Neither outcome is likely to happen.

The Cowboys would need to win and hope the Arizona Cardinals lose to the San Francisco 49ers and the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers play to a tie for Dallas to claim the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs.

For Dallas to get a first-round bye and the No. 2 seed, it would need one of four scenarios to occur: 1. The Cowboys win, the Seattle Seahawks lose to St. Louis Rams, and the Cardinals lose; 2. The Cowboys win, and the Packers and Lions tie; 3. The Cowboys tie, the Seahawks lose and the Cardinals lose; or 4. The Cowboys tie, and there is no tie in the Packers-Lions game.

Regardless of the permutations, Garrett refuses to change his mentality.

“Yeah, we’re playing,” Garrett said. “We’re practicing and playing, and we’re getting ready to play our best football game against Washington on Sunday.”

Owner Jerry Jones is on the same page with Garrett. He said the Cowboys are playing their best football right now, and he doesn’t want them losing their edge heading into the playoffs.

“I feel strongly about going all out against the Redskins,” Jones said. “There’s several reasons, but No. 1, I think there’s a bigger concern about losing your edge than there is ever about some of those other issues that are involved. There will be opportunities enough as the game goes along to see if anybody needs to be resting. But we need that win. We could really need it. It could really make a difference, and so that’s that.”

Another factor in playing hard against an upset-minded Redskins team is Washington’s blitz-happy style of play and the injury risk to Tony Romo. The quarterback sustained a herniated disk in Week 15 against the Redskins last year, and he fractured bones in his back in a 20-17 overtime loss to the Redskins this year.

Romo said he has no complaints about playing in the game and plans to be at his best.

“Well, I think my thought process is the same as it is every week — you know, to be the best version of myself,” Romo said. “Anytime you have the opportunity to play in a football game, I think that you owe it to the game and to your team and everybody to go out and play the game the way it’s meant to be played. I think that’s all out the whole time. If Coach takes you out, he takes you out, but I’m going in with the approach that I’m playing to win this football game and be the best version of myself I can be, and (it is) just another opportunity to go out and play the game we love.”

Adding to the incentive of playing the starters against the Redskins is running back DeMarco Murray being just 29 yards away from setting a single-season franchise rushing record. Jones wants Murray to get that chance even though he is still nursing a surgically repaired left hand.

“We all know the risk of losing a player in a game,” Jones said, “and all of those have their way of sorting out. I think you can make a good case for even someone like Murray getting his reps in. …

“Let’s look at the record aspect of this thing, 29 yards to go. That’s not just Murray’s record. That offensive line — I know as a former offensive lineman, you’re so proud of those yards, it’s like you made every one of them yourself. And so there’s an inspirational thing about doing well, winning, stats.

“You’ve got to temper all of that as to the risk. As you know, I’m a risk-taker. You’ve got to weigh that against the reward. And I think the mental, feel-good of competing, or give yourself a chance to compete, is good.”

SERIES HISTORY: 110th meeting. Dallas leads the series 64-43-2. The Cowboys won eight of the past 12. The Redskins won the last meeting 20-17 in overtime on Oct. 27.

Notes: Linebacker Rolando McClain missed practice Wednesday to tend to his house in Tuscaloosa, Ala., that was burned down Monday. He is expected to be back at Thursday. … Quarterback Tony Romo missed practice Wednesday as part of his routine of working his core exercises to strengthen his back.

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