Cowboys Improbable Playoff Run May Still be Too Little Too Late

Dallas Cowboys cornerback C.J. Goodwin (29) celebrates with strong safety Darian Thompson (23) after recovering a fumble during the second quarter of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles at AT&T Stadium on Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Arlington. The play was ruled out of bounds and the Eagles retained possesion.(Smiley N. Pool / Staff Photographer)

All eyes are focused on Sunday’s matchup with New York and what it could mean for the Cowboys’ fortunes.

None are looking back at the gruesome injury that altered the course of the season.

Dak Prescott suffered his compound fracture and dislocated ankle in the team’s first meeting with the Giants. No one felt compelled to view it again as Dallas prepared to end the regular season against the same team.

“It definitely didn’t get watched, didn’t get played,” receiver Michael Gallup said. “Nobody wants to see that.

“Nobody wants to remember it.’’

No one wants to remember. But it’s impossible to forget.

The Cowboys lost six of seven games in the wake of Prescott’s injury. It sparked a stretch in which four different quarterbacks threw a pass in a span of 129 attempts.

Dallas has regained its equilibrium with three consecutive victories. A win over the Giants, coupled with a Washington loss to Philadelphia later in the day, would nudge the Cowboys into the playoffs. But since the Eagles are holding out virtually every player with a bruise and a pulse …

Well, there’s a sense this run is too little, too late for Dallas.

“We had a rough start,” defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence said. “But I feel like the guys came back together strongly and we’re playing awesome football right now.

“All we can do is keep playing awesome football and let everything else fall into place.’’

“I don’t recommend it.’’

Less than seven minutes remained in the third quarter when Prescott scrambled for 9 yards to get the ball down to the Giants’ 18-yard line.

He didn’t get up.

“Those are never good moments as a head coach,” Mike McCarthy said. “As you walk out onto the field over the years, you have a pretty good sense of how serious the injury is. Based on the reaction of the players around him, I knew it was of a serious nature.

“The thing I’ll always remember is the impact it had on everyone on the field that day. Players, coaches, support staff at the stadium. I don’t recall ever seeing that many players and coaches come off an opponent sideline.

“The amount of respect that was shown that day …”

Prescott’s season was done. Ezekiel Elliott scored three plays later to stake the Cowboys to a 31-23 lead. But the Giants scored 11 consecutive points to take a 34-31 lead into the game’s final nine minutes.

Backup quarterback Andy Dalton responded with two field goal drives to secure the victory.

“It feels like it was a while ago,’’ Dalton said. “Just everything that’s gone on for this team, for me personally and all that kind of stuff after that point.

“It definitely feels like a while ago.”

It was Oct. 11.

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SOURCE: Dallas Morning News, David Moore

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