FRISCO, Texas — For the vast majority of those in the NFL community, this week has been a surreal one. From players and coaches to media members alike, the events on Monday night involving Buffalo Bills' safety Damar Hamlin and his cardiac arrest hit home.
After a tough day on Wednesday for players across the league as they had their typical media availability, including the Cowboys, Thursday was the first sign that things were taking a turn for the best in Hamlin's fight for his life with reports that he had made "substantial improvement."
Just as Dak Prescott was coming out for his weekly media session, the sounds of joyful clapping and yelling could be heard from around the corner outside of the Cowboys' locker room. The reason, as one would assume, was due to that good news involving Hamlin.
"I'm as happy as can be, obviously," Prescott said. "I think as everybody saw Monday night the world went into a shock. And just now a couple days later… Prayer is powerful, and God is great. Yeah, it's awesome."
With the positive progress on Hamlin now firmly in their corner, the Cowboys and Prescott can comfortably turn their attention to this Sunday against the Commanders with playoff seeding and an outside chance at the NFC East title on the line.
The Cowboys would need an Eagles' loss to the Giants to help make the latter goal attainable, but nonetheless remain focused on what is only in their control - beating the Commanders.
"We've got to win," Prescott said. "The focus first and foremost is to win, play well, and build momentum. And if we win the division title that's not necessarily up to us at this point. We've just got to go in and take care of our business."
But whatever you do, don't ask CeeDee Lamb about the multiple playoff scenarios the Cowboys are facing this weekend. He doesn't pay attention to them… Mostly because of the stress they cause.
"Them damn things stress me out," Lamb said with a laugh when asked if had been keeping up with the scenarios. "I'm going to be honest I don't pay too much attention to the scenarios because if it was meant for us, it'd be for us."
Not only would an NFC East crown mark the first time in Prescott's seven-year career with the Cowboys that they have won the division in consecutive seasons, but with a playoff spot already clinched, this season will be the first time they have made the playoffs in back-to-back years.
When asked if the way in which last season ended in the first round of the playoffs at home in a brutal loss to the San Francisco 49ers serves as any sense of motivation, Prescott nor Lamb hesitated to agree.
"Yeah, every which way," he said. "We talked about resiliency and that led into this season because of the end of last season. And as I said before, we're not going to hide our scars and not be proud of the pain in the sense that we went through that. That's what made us who we are today."
"Obviously we didn't put our best work out there last year," Lamb said. "I kind of want to build off that. We left a lot of plays out there. There's a lot of things that we could have built off last year for sure."
It is a huge accomplishment, naturally, given just how much adversity the Cowboys have already endured this season. Starting last offseason with the loss of Amari Cooper and Randy Gregory, to the injuries early in the season to Tyron Smith and Prescott himself, along with all the injuries in between, it's not a small feat that Dallas has made it to this point.
But they'd be the first one to tell you - they want more than just making the playoffs, and the time for excuses has passed.
"We have to prove it to ourselves before we prove it to anybody else," Lamb said. "Obviously going into these games next week is starting the elimination round, there's no room for anymore 'my bad' or pretty much anything that'll negate us or offensively take us back in the wrong direction."
The 'resiliency' mantra has become something of a battle cry for this 2022 Cowboys team, and there's more than enough reasons to support why that's an appropriate motto. Prescott acknowledged that ability to bounce back could be one of the bigger differences in this year's team compared to previous squads.
"I think that might show the biggest difference in the past years," Prescott said. "Is just being able to turn the page and I guess, resilient if you want to, and knowing that the next play is all that matters."
Here's to hoping Dak is onto something.