IRVING, Texas – For all the talk about the Cowboys' motivations this weekend, the Washington Redskins find themselves in a similar situation.
Yes, the key difference is that they're going to the playoffs. But with an 8-7 record, Washington is locked into the No. 4 seed in the NFC playoffs, and there's not much that can be done to improve that. Despite that fact, DeSean Jackson said the Redskins want to finish 2015 with a winning record.
"We have a locked in spot and we're just focused on what's in hand in front of us. Cowboys are up," he said. "We've got to take that game serious, and we want to win. We want to end the season on a winning record, four games in a row. So, we still have a lot."
Fittingly, the Redskins have not lost a game since their last meeting with Dallas – when the Cowboys won a disjointed Monday night game, 19-16. As bad as it might have looked at the time, the loss spurred Washington to an impressive finish that's seen them lock up the division a week early.
"I think it was a frustrating loss for us. We kind of took that game to heart and we knew the opportunity that we had. We controlled our own destiny," Jackson said. "So, we challenged each other in the locker room and just to go out and really take advantage of the opportunity that we have which is if we win out, we can make it to the playoffs."
It creates an interesting juxtaposition if you think back to this time last year, when the Cowboys traveled to FedEx Field to wrap up their division championship. The Cowboys downed a 4-11 Washington team, 44-17, in the season finale to finish 12-4 en route to a playoff game.
Jackson remembered that game well – he did finish with 86 yards and a touchdown. Having experienced both sides of the spectrum, he said he understood the importance of following through, regardless of what the season circumstances are.
"Any game we play as a professional athlete, we're blessed to get the opportunity to go on the field and we want to take advantage of that," he said. "We don't want to get caught up in 'meaningless games' and things like that. You just want to go out there and do a good job. That's what we get paid to do."