FRISCO, Texas - The phrase has been thrown out multiple times during the course of the season when it comes to the Dallas Cowboys. Head coach Mike McCarthy first used it way back in training camp when the team was in Oxnard, Calif. in August.
It subsequently made its way back to The Star in Frisco and AT&T Stadium in Arlington and has more than proven its accuracy since its assignment to this 2022 squad.
The word? Resilient.
And while sure, there are more than enough storylines through almost 16 weeks that would perfectly encapsulate the Cowboys' resilient nature, most all pale in comparison to Dak Prescott's route during his eighth season.
Missing the five games in the middle of the season due to a broken right thumb in the season opener, returning in Week 7 to elevate the Cowboys' offense to one of the most prolific in the league since then, and a career-worst interception bug with seven in his last four games is quite the whirlwind.
Yet despite that all, the Cowboys, and Prescott have already clinched a playoff spot still with three games remaining and a 10-4 record ahead of a much-anticipated Christmas Eve clash with the likely eventual No. 1 seed in the NFC and NFC East champs in the 13-1 Philadelphia Eagles.
So, when McCarthy was asked earlier in the week about Prescott's bad run of picks in recent weeks, he was adamant that his franchise quarterback needed to "keep firing." Fortunately enough, Prescott didn't need to be told to continue his aggressive approach to the pass game this year.
"It's an attitude I've always had honestly," Prescott said. "Coming into the league I was confident in myself. I don't know if I'd have had the early success as I did if I didn't have that mentality… But I always believed if a mistake happened, I can't allow that to bog me down to get in my head mentally."
"All I can focus on is the next play, regardless of what happens. Touchdown, interception, or whatever happens in between."
The interception problem has quickly become a hot-button topic surrounding Prescott, and understandably so given the uncharacteristic stretch. But after missing the Cowboys' first meeting with the Eagles in Philadelphia back in October while recovering from that thumb injury, didn't shy away from Saturday being a 'statement game.' Just maybe in a different light.
"If anything, it's about making the statement to ourselves," Prescott said. "As you look at the season, we've had some games where we played really well. And we've had some games where we bit ourselves in the foot… So, this is about putting our best foot forward."
This would not be the first time the Cowboys try to respond against a tough opponent after a heartbreaking overtime loss. Go back just to Week 10 when they saw a 14-point lead evaporate on the field at Lambeau against the Packers, only to be followed up with a 40-3 smashing of the Vikings on the road in Week 11.
Saturday's game lacks some of the luster it initially had with the Eagles all but likely to clinch the division title with just a win or a Cowboys loss the rest of the way. But the other side of that coin is the uncertain status of quarterback Jalen Hurts who sprained his throwing shoulder in Week 15.
While the Cowboys could play spoiler and aren't technically out of the divisional race even with a playoff spot secured, they are also trying to avoid losing back-to-back games coming off the Jaguars loss, something they haven't done all season. But that just goes with the theme of the season.
When Prescott was asked about the Cowboys' ability to avoid such a thing this season, that word resilient came up again. And why wouldn't it with Prescott being the team leader has become the walking embodiment of the Cowboys' campaign slogan this season.
"I think you just have a resilient locker room," he said. "We've talked before, that being the mantra of the team. Understanding when you lose a game you've got one chance, and your only chance is really just to respond."
"When you have the men and the mindset that we do in that locker room, you don't worry about how they're going to respond."