FRISCO, Texas – Now, the Dallas Cowboys certainly don't think this way. But we do, don't we:
One down, four to go for the Cowboys to run the table during this final five-game stretch of the season, knowing they must get to 10-6 if they are to have any chance of slipping into the NFC playoffs as a wild-card team.
As Dak Prescott said when asked about the pressure of winning out, "It's great, it's just the playoffs start now, simple as that. You've got to embrace it if you play this game, you've got to love that."
But the Cowboys would be wise to remember 2010, when the 1-7 Cowboys, on the heels of head coach Wade Phillips being fired and Jason Garrett promoted to interim head coach, went up to MetLife Stadium and spanked the 6-2 Giants, 33-20. Beware the interim voice.
And looking back, found this published in the New York Daily News the day of Wade's firing: "The Giants buried the Cowboys a few weeks ago, but now the home fans get to help shovel dirt on Jerry Jones and Wade Phillips."
Ha, so Anthony Hitchens was wise to say when asked about running the table, "My mindset honestly is to be 1-0 this week," making a point of not getting ahead of themselves. But now, time to head out for some Shots.
- Hitching It Up: Maybe I understand why Packers defensive end Dean Lowry was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week, recording one sack and returning a recovered fumble 62 yards for a touchdown. But come on, Hitchens, the Cowboys' weak-side linebacker, had 15 tackles – two for losses – in the 38-14 victory over the Redskins. Fifteen now. In his fourth and final year of his contract, you'd hope the Cowboys are making plans to re-sign the guy.
- Lesson Learned:"Hitch" was talking about how much it means to have Sean Lee returning this week, since he'll move back to his middle linebacker spot with Lee, after missing four games, resuming duties on the weak side. He points out how well his partner can diagnose plays, remembering back to last year, thinking it was the Detroit game, when Lee spotted something, prompting him to tell Hitch to move, move. Said he didn't listen to Lee, and the running back hit the hole where he was told to move into and ran for a touchdown. "Last time I didn't listen to him," Hitch says.
- Touchdowns Matter: Two more Zeke-less games left. And again, defenses know he's not there. Check this out: At the eight-game mark, the Cowboys had run for 11 touchdowns, seven of those Ezekiel Elliott's. In the four games he's missed, the Cowboys have run for four touchdowns, two of those this past game. And how special is Zeke? There still is this: After missing four games, his 54 points scored are still tied for fifth in the NFL, and just two points shy of still being tied for third. I'd say pretty special.
- Unsung Star: So they name an Unsung Star each week on The Jason Garrett Show, and Cowboys right tackle La'el Collins took that honor in this past weekend's edition following the Washington game. And rightfully so. The third-year lineman's back ailments (bulging disk) kept him out of practice all week, yet he played in the game and basically made 'Skins defensive end Ryan Kerrigan disappear. "LC" had a lot to do with the Cowboys rushing for 182 yards and Dak getting sacked only once. So keep an eye on his condition this week. Back still bothering him. Didn't practice Wednesday. Doesn't look like he'll practice Thursday, maybe not even Friday. But boy they'll need him Sunday after the way he gutted out this past Thursday's game.
- Great Answer: When I asked Hitchens if he had ever played middle linebacker before doing so with the Cowboys, he said never. Not in high school (running back and safety) and not at Iowa (safety and linebacker). So, Hitch, do you consider yourself a middle linebacker now, even though you've also played weak-side and strong-side during your four years with the Cowboys? "I'm a linebacker," he promptly said. Gotta like that.