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Eatman: Can't prepare for playoffs better than that


ARLINGTON, Texas – If there's one thing that I've said repeatedly in the last few weeks, it's that NFL playoff games are never won in November.

They're not even in December anymore either.

But as we turn the page from November to December, it doesn't mean you can't start preparing for the postseason.
And that game Thursday night … was as good of a playoff prep as you're going to find.

No, I'm not saying the Cowboys beat an actual playoff team in Seattle, which dropped to 6-6, which means for those who love to say the Cowboys haven't defeated a playoff team, they are still technically correct.

Who knows if the Seahawks will make it to the playoffs as they've got the Eagles and 49ers still to play.

And who knows if the Cowboys will even get a home game here at AT&T Stadium, where they are absolutely on a roll here in a place that is undoubtedly a home-field advantage.

What I do is this – that is a playoff-type of game and one that the Cowboys were just determined to win.

Those are the types of games you see in the playoffs – back and forth with both teams grabbing the momentum, losing it and stealing it back.

Those are the types of games where something out of nowhere happens and you just have to figure out a way around it.

Sure, we all saw DaRon Bland having this type of game, right? Actually, I can't say I predicted him to get beat over and over by the Seahawks receivers, but I was a little worried when the NFL named him NFC Defensive Player of the Month here on Nov. 30 with a game still to play. (Then again, Dak won the offensive award and it didn't bother him at all.)

But it wasn't just Bland having issues on defense. The Seahawks had a great game plan of getting the ball out of Geno Smith's hands quickly but still finding open receivers at the same time. They were dialing it up on offense and giving the Cowboys all kinds of problems.

But just when you're about to wonder how to think about the season DaRon Bland is having – he gets another pick! And then almost got a second one on a fourth-down play that was actually better off that he didn't get the interception and give up about 25 yards of field position.

And just when you're starting to wonder why Micah Parsons wasn't a huge factor in the game – BOOM, he busts through on fourth-down with the game on the line and hits Geno Smith for an incomplete pass to win the game.

That's the kind of things you see in the playoffs. Stuff like that where the defense almost loses the game … until they win it.

Games where the offense is literally carrying the team to the finish line, but just when they're almost there and need four more yards to put the Seahawks away, they misfire on a pass to the end zone instead of running the ball and chewing up 40 more seconds of clock. The offense had controlled the game … until they didn't and the defense had to step up and win.

That's what you can expect to see in the playoffs: the unexpected.

To me, that's the true sign of a good team, one that can win in different ways, not only in throughout the season, but throughout a game.

Yeah, we can sit here and blame the defense for allowing 35 points and what felt like 20 passes to Metcalf, even though it was just six. But at the end of the night, the defense got off the field three straight times to win the game.

When you get to the playoffs, it won't matter if you play this game in Philly, San Francisco, Detroit or right here at AT&T Stadium. The best teams simply find a way to win.

The Cowboys won that type of game here Thursday. Now, we'll see if that's the kind of prep-work needed to do it again in the playoffs.

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