ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 9: Linebacker Bradie James #56 and Jay Ratliff #90 of the Dallas Cowboys during the 2010 NFC wild-card playoff game at Cowboys Stadium on January 9, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Coming into a divisional round playoff game against the Vikings this weekend in Minneapolis, one would be hard-pressed to find a local publication not teeming with praise for the Cowboys' defense. This is no big surprise, considering the team has surrendered 14 points over their last 180 minutes of football. But if the reader wishes to see a group of people less than ecstatic about the Cowboys defensive performance of late, look no further than the Cowboys locker room at Valley Ranch.
One of the most promising aspects of this year's squad as opposed to that of last year and even 2007, is their ability to remain on an even keel through the inevitable peaks and nadirs of a season. Now seemingly approaching a peak, the Dallas defense sees no ceiling, and a whole lot of room for improvement.
"This is the playoffs, this is football, of course it's fun, of course it's exciting, but at the same time we know we have a job to do," said nose tackle Jay Ratliff. "We had a good game, but we didn't play our best and we made a lot of mistakes. We need to get back to work."
More specifically, the team was displeased with the 14 points surrendered against Philadelphia. Bradie James said immediately after the game, in fact, that the team was perturbed by the fourth quarter touchdown pass from Donovan McNabb to DeSean "We gonna sting they ass" Jackson. Ratliff expressed as much shortly thereafter, operating under the notion that if Minnesota scores in a manner similar, it might not be a meaningless footnote at the end of a blowout.
"The play they had (for a touchdown)--it was a good play, it was a well-executed play," said Ratliff. "But we can not give those plays up, especially next week."