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Focus Turns To Giants Following Cowboys' Bye Week

DALLAS, Texas – The happenings of the NFL during the Cowboys' week dominated attention spans across the team's landscape – for just about everyone but the players themselves, at least.

While the Cowboys rested during their Week 11 bye, their three NFC East rivals all suffered demoralizing defeats. New York and Washington both lost, crippling their postseason aspirations, while Philadelphia's lopsided loss to Green Bay pushed the Cowboys into a tie for the division lead.

Despite the significance of these storylines, Cowboys players were seemingly uninterested Monday morning – noting the unimportance of records on division rivalries.

"It's all about when we play them, so obviously it was a tough day for our division but I'm sure they'll be ready to play us," said DeMarco Murray.

That's the same refrain that has become common around the Cowboys in 2014, as they continue to put the focus on themselves, rather than their opponents. Asked if it was possible that Dallas "won" on Sunday, despite being on a bye week, Jason Witten shrugged off the notion.

"I guess it was good that those teams in the division lose. But all due respect to whoever said that, I don't think you can look at it that way," Witten said. "You win it because you get healthy – it's a good time to reflect on it. There's still so much football that has to be played."

Witten's last statement is probably an understatement as the Cowboys prepare to return from their week off. The Cowboys play four of their last six games on the road, including all three of their division road trips for the season.

The first of those comes Sunday, against a Giants team that is now 3-7 after their 16-10 loss to San Francisco. As the Cowboys have already learned once this season, though, the records involved don't always dictate the outcome – particularly within the division.

"It's silly to think that you don't know what other teams' records are. But once you're aware of it, your mindset gets back to the upcoming game and that opponent," Witten said. "You saw it with the way Washington came in here and beat us – their record doesn't say that, but that's just the way this league works."

To that end, the Cowboys should be about as fresh as possible following the second-latest possible bye week in the season schedule – two more teams have a bye week in Week 12, before the entire league has finally had an off week. With a handful of exceptions, the Cowboys appear to be healthy for the home stretch, and the weekend off should help even more to that end.


"I don't know about anyone else, but I totally got away – I didn't watch it, didn't concentrate on it. I'm excited, I think we're all recharged and ready to go," Murray said.
There's plenty of reason for optimism. The Cowboys made it to the bye week with a 7-3 record, despite a two-game losing streak while Tony Romo recovered from a back injury. After righting the ship against Jacksonville, Witten said the bye week focus was simple – continued improvement.

"Coach Garrett said it, but I think our team understands it – we got out of it at 7-3, but there's so much we can get better," Witten said. "We used the bye week to evaluate and kind of self-scout ourselves, and then we go into it and take it one game at a time."

Despite the tough slate to finish the season, that first game is simple enough – the Giants. With four of their six division games still in front of them, Witten said the Cowboys can't afford to look any further than that.

"You can't look past New York, and the focus has to be on that. There's been times I felt like we were going to be great in December, and we didn't play well," Witten said. "I think that's the message Jason says with, literally break it down to – we know what we need to do to win, and work our tails off and find a way in that approach to give us a chance."

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