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Mick Shots: Ramping Up For The Playoffs 


FRISCO, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys, 10-6.

Cowboys NFC East Division champs second time in three years and third time in five years.

Cowboys in the playoffs for second time in three years and third time in five years.


Now, what do they have to show for all that?

Just one playoff win, that being the 24-20 nail-biter over the Detroit Lions in 2014.

And although these young Cowboys will have had nothing to do with previous history, sure to be pointed out will be the fact the Cowboys have won just two playoff games since the 1996 season when they defeated Minnesota in the first round and then lost the first of those nine games at Carolina in the second round.

The two they won? Beating Philadelphia in the first round in 2009 and then, of course the Detroit win in 2014. That means the Cowboys' record in the playoffs since that win in 1996 is 2-9.

But for the majority of the guys on this team, with just five offensive or defensive starters – two more special teams guys – having played in at least three playoff games – only 13 more guys total have played one playoff game, that the 34-31 last-second loss to Green Bay in 2016. And 26 more? None.

And the guy with the most playoff games under his belt?

That would be backup offensive lineman Cameron Fleming with nine while playing for New England, followed by deep snapper L.P. Ladouceur with seven, dating back to the 2006 season playoff loss at . . . Seattle.

Now for some more juicy playoff shots.

·     Long Forgotten: So what most everyone remembers from that 21-20 loss to the Seahawks on Jan. 6, 2007 – nearly a year to the day of Saturday's playoff game against Seattle, this time at AT&T Stadium – is QB Tony Romo fumbling the snap from the two-yard line with just 1:19 left in the game, denying kicker Martin Gramatica a chance to hit what would have been the potential game-winning 20-yard field goal. What they don't remember is Romo's seven-yard completion to Jason Witten on third-and-seven to the Seattle one for what was ruled a first down. But upon video review, head referee Walt Anderson reversed the call, placing the ball just short of the first down without a TV shot parallel to the line of scrimmage, causing the fourth-and-1 at the 2. Had the first down stood, the Cowboys would have drained the clock and could have scored a touchdown with three shots from the one to win the game and go on to Chicago for the next round. Oh, not going to believe this: Guess who is the referee for Saturday's game? No. 66, Walt Anderson. NFL sense of humor?

·     Playoff Pressure: Sure, this win-or-go-home playoff game with Seattle on Saturday is pressure packed. But you know what, the Cowboys have been backs to the wall the entire second half of the season after starting off 3-5. They then went on the road to win two straight games (Philly and Atlanta), dispatched the Redskins, who had beaten them earlier in the season, beat the NFC's top-seeded Saints, then Philly in overtime, not to mention clinching the NFC East with a win over the Bucs and finally the Giants in that one-pointer. Intense pressure the whole way. "Where we were in the season," Pro Bowl guard Zack Martin said, referring to the 3-5 start, "been in a playoff situation most of the year."

·     D-ing Up: For the second consecutive season the Cowboys' defense has finished in the top 10 when it comes to yards allowed. The Cowboys are seventh, giving up an average of 329.3 yards a game. That's one spot better than last year's finish of eighth (331.9). This is the first time since 2007-09 the Cowboys have finished consecutive seasons in the top 10 defensively. Prior to that, the Cowboys finished in the top 10 defensively from 1992-97, six straight years, and No. 1 in 1992 and 1994. The only other time since the Super Bowl championship season of 1977 they finished No. 1 is 2003, Bill Parcells' first season as head coach with Mike Zimmer, the current Minnesota head coach, as the defensive coordinator.

·     Glittering Hardware: Not only is Cowboys' first-year tight end Blake Jarwin NFC Offensive Player of the Week for his seven-catch, 119-yard and three-TD performance in Sunday's 36-35 win over the Giants, but stuffed into his locker was the championship boxing belt given to the team's player of the game, along with a set of boxing gloves. But maybe more importantly, now the Seattle Seahawks can put a name to No. 89. "You know, but I kind of liked it when they just called me 89; puts a little chip on my shoulder and keeps me working hard," Jarwin said. "I don't think you can ever get complacent in this league especially."

·     Food For Thought: Not only will Seattle have to become more cognizant of Jarwin during this week's preparation after his performance against the Giants, the Cowboys put a few more things on tape Seattle will have to spend time on this week. Like showing the potential to either hand the ball or throw the ball to the speedy Tavon Austin, who played in his first game in 10 weeks. Also, might just go back returning punts. Then there are the rash of no-huddle plays the Cowboys ran, along with a bunch of empty sets to combat the blitzing Giants. All I know is the Cowboys totaled 419 yards in the game, second most this season to the 576 gained in the overtime win second time around over the Eagles.

·      Playoff Shots: Watch out for Ezekiel Elliott. He appears a bundle of energy after being given last Sunday off, yet still winning the NFL rushing title for the second time in three years, and becoming the only other Cowboys running back to win multiple rushing titles along with Emmitt Smith's four . . . As for DL Tyrone Crawford, practicing on a limited basis so far after suffering what doctors called "a big boy stinger" against the Bucs when carted off the field to head to the hospital for further exams, when I asked him if thinks he's good to go on Saturday, he shot back, "100 percent." 'Nuff said . . . Also at practice walking up and down the sideline at Ford Center since it's been raining all day long here at The Star was Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, keeping a close eye on things.

Hey, it's the playoffs, dude. Can't miss a shot.