Making Your Own Destiny

in Miami? Dallas didn't have anything to do with that. But the Cowboys had everything to do with what they made of those opportunities.

Sometimes it's not your year. Remember last season in Washington? The loss due to the blocked field goal? What if Kosier had been called for a five-yard face mask penalty instead of 15? Washington would not have kicked the winning field goal. But sometimes, it's not your year.

Perhaps it's your year when you play the Giants when Michael Strahan has just reported and he has to play the whole game because Osi Umenyiora gets hurt early. Perhaps it's your year when you play Buffalo starting a rookie quarterback, St. Louis without Steven Jackson, Green Bay without Charles Woodson and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, Washington without Santana Moss.

On the other hand, everyone has played the Cowboys without Terry Glenn and Jason Ferguson. Three played them without Ellis, three without Anthony Henry and two without Terence Newman. So maybe it all balances out.

This much is certain: At least two people can stand up in a team meeting and explain why what seems destined may not happen.

If Phillips senses his team believing it is destined to win, he just has to stand before them and ask, "Anybody know where I was last year?" (San Diego.) "Anybody know what our record was?" (14-2). "Anybody know how many playoff games we won?" (0.)

He might also ask quarterback Brad Johnson to get up and tell about his 1998 season. Began the season as the quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings. Started twice before breaking his leg. Helped the Vikings to a 15-1 record and led the NFL in offense. They actually won a playoff game, and then lost to Atlanta in the NFC Championship. Are you listening? Went 15-1, led the league in offense, did not go to the Super Bowl.

No, what is called for now from the Cowboys is vigilance, greater concentration and focus than at any time this season, and now more than ever.

At stake this Sunday is a first-round bye. This franchise has not enjoyed that luxury since 1995. It makes an enormous difference. Having the right to play at home in a potential NFC Championship game requires two more wins. December momentum, increased confidence heading into the postseason, requires more effort, more work, more intensity.

Because nothing is guaranteed except that this team will win at least 12 games. There is no destiny in the NFL. You make your own.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.