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McCarthy on Lions: 'Biggest challenge of the year'


FRISCO, TX — From the frying pan into the fire, and then into the gas line feeding the pilot light, the Dallas Cowboys will get no rest from their gauntlet in December, having dropped two straight on their tour of the AFC East before now having to face the Detroit Lions in Week 17.

The bad news is the Cowboys have still not figured out how to avoid getting in their own way on the road, but the good news is they'll be returning home for their matchup against the talented Lions in what should be another potent matchup on the NFL's slate this weekend. 

"You have to recognize what a great job [head coach Dan Campbell] has done and the team he's built up there," said Mike McCarthy on Tuesday. "… I think those guys have done an incredible job."

Campbell arrived in Detroit in 2021 and, two short seasons later, has officially clinched the NFC North and heads to Dallas with a record of 11-4 — tied with the San Francisco 49ers and the Philadelphia Eagles in that regard.

They'll be looking to land their 12th win when they face the Cowboys, a familiar environment for Campbell, who suited up for Dallas as a tight end behind Jason Witten from 2003-2005. For the Cowboys, however, it'll be about landing that elusive 11th victory that would also keep them alive for the No. 2 seed or better, and for the NFC East crown as they enter the final regular season matchup against the Washington Commanders in Week 18.

And they'll have the added motivation of it including the induction of legendary former head coach Jimmy Johnson into the team's coveted Ring of Honor. 

"You've gotta take care of what's in front of you," said McCarthy. "We want to be much better than we were last week. But there's also a lot of good things that occurred in Miami — improved from the prior week [in Buffalo]."

It's been a dominant season for McCarthy's group at home, currently carrying a 7-0 record at AT&T Stadium this season versus a 3-5 record on the road, and their production turns up massively when they take the field in Arlington. 

"We've been able to get into a rhythm early and keep our foot on the gas," McCarthy added about the difference in how Dallas plays at home.

That doesn't mean he's overlooking the challenge at-hand, however. As a matter of fact, the Cowboys' head coach believes that the Lions could present a battle that neither the Seahawks nor the Eagles (nor the Rams) created as far as matchups and style of play are concerned. 

 "We've been talking about getting to the 11th win and we're still not there,"  he said. " … I think this will be our biggest challenge of the year. Just based on what we've seen on video. I think this is gonna be a heck of a game."

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