FRISCO, Texas — Brandin Cooks is no stranger to postseason play and, as he finds himself back in position to help propel an NFL team to the Super Bowl, the veteran wide receiver does so having found his footing in the Texas Coast offense led by Dak Prescott, CeeDee Lamb and head coach Mike McCarthy.
For Cooks, who finished the regular season with the most receiving touchdowns (8) since his 2016 season with the New Orleans Saints, this week isn't about changing anything major ahead of their matchup on Super Wild Card Weekend against the Green Bay Packers.
"You try to keep everything normal, as far as your daily rhythm, throughout the week," he said on Wednesday. "Obviously, there's gonna be a sense of urgency because there's no tomorrow, because it's win-or-go-home every single week."
That it is, as the NFL season flips to what is essentially four one-game seasons. This time around, however, the Cowboys (12-5) own the No. 2 seed and home field advantage through at least the NFC Divisional Round — assuming they defeat the Packers (9-7).
And that is exactly the goal: to not allow Green Bay to walk into AT&T Stadium and be the first visiting team in 17 tries to leave with a victory. That means not playing down to the competition, or even viewing them as a team that could be played down to in the first place.
"At the end of the day, we're looking at a great team that's been playing at a high level to finish this season," said Cooks. "As far as pressure [goes], no, because we know what's in front of us. It's playoff ball. That's the best of everyone's ball.
"We've gotta just show up and continue to be who we are without putting more on ourselves than we need to. … We've just gotta take care of business."
Earlier this week, McCarthy openly admitted he regretted his approach to the infamous 2022 contest, given his history with the Packers' organization, and at the expense of the Cowboys one more than one occasion, opting to avoid talking about anything other than the X's an O's.
"Nope, and by him not having a message, it shows he doesn't care about the history," said Cooks of McCarthy's approach this time around. "He's not making about him. He's making it about us, and that's going out there and getting a win."
In 2021, McCarthy led the Cowboys to a 12-5 record, but it was followed by an exit in the wild card matchup. In 2022, McCarthy led the Cowboys to a 12-5 record, but it was followed by an exit in the divisional round. In 2023, McCarthy led the Cowboys to a 12-5 record and …
Well, let's find out.
Survive and advance, sure, but the Cowboys would prefer to thrive and advance.
Either way works, though.