When the Cowboys stream out of the tunnel on Sunday, they will return, for the first time, to the site of their moral de-pantsing last December 28, a 44-6 flogging that would've been ugly enough without the ill playoff implications. In what has been billed as a shot at revenge for Dallas, the Cowboys will attempt, in great part, to put away such Tarantino-esque motivation and, as boring as it sounds, be themselves.
As Tim MacMahon, of The Dallas Morning News pointed out in a column last week, the bare bones of the matter, this thing we call football, is a team's record. Everything else--prognostication, windy radio-banter, the ESPN-driven apotheosis of Brett Favre--is moonshine. Dallas is 5-2 and tied for first place, the result of staying on an even keel, even after heartbreaking losses to the Giants and Broncos, even after Wade Phillips was thoroughly browbeaten for the team struggling against Kansas City on the road.
The team will attempt to keep this sense of identity while simultaneously fleshing it out a bit more, as they travel to Philadelphia on Sunday.
"I think you've just got to stay on that even plane and just not get too high, not get too low," said linebacker Keith Brooking. "Obviously, winning brings confidence and when you're a confident football team, you're a talented football team [like] we are, and you work as hard as you work that's a very good combination of things. But you just can't make things bigger than what they are."
While 44-6 still resonates in the minds of many Cowboys, it is secondary as a motivating factor, as the 2009 Cowboys attempt to pull ahead in the division, and away from the disappointment of 2008.
"We know what happened last year: those guys beat us to go to the playoffs," said Bradie James. "This is a different team, a different season. The only way we can right that wrong is to go out there and win."