|Lack of postseason success, December slide haven't shaken Cowboys' confidence|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 02 January 2008 14:29|
``I'm definitely looking forward to winning my first one. A lot of us are,'' linebacker Akin Ayodele said Wednesday. ``We actually had guys stand, and it was only two of them.''
It was safety Ken Hamlin and nose tackle Tank Johnson, both first-year Cowboys whose postseason victories came with other teams.
And there aren't many players on offense that can claim to be postseason winners either. Terrell Owens is one of four in that group, again all winning before they got to Dallas.
Still, the confidence of the Cowboys (13-3) hasn't been shaken by the lack of postseason success on their roster or a December slide in which they didn't score a touchdown in two losses and their two wins came against teams that didn't make the playoffs.
``I don't think we've lost our swagger at all,'' Ayodele said.
``We're just as good as the next team,'' Hamlin said. ``So there's nothing not to be confident about.''
As coach Wade Phillips pointed out, the Cowboys accomplished their goal by being the NFC's No. 1 seed and are in the same position as the AFC's New England Patriots, the first team to go 16-0 in the regular season.
``They're still only the No. 1 seed, just like we are,'' Phillips said. 'I understand they won every game, but we're still exactly where they are as far as the playoffs are concerned.''
With a first-round bye before their first playoff game at Texas Stadium in nine years, the Cowboys worked out in pads Wednesday. After Thursday's practice, players will get a three-day weekend before returning to work and knowing their next opponent.
The postseason is a new experience for Pro Bowl guard Leonard Davis, the former first-round pick who spent his previous six NFL seasons in Arizona.
``I'm usually going home or at home in Texas at Wortham at this point in time,'' Davis said. ``It feels great. Just the opportunity to do something special, that has to make you feel good inside.''
Davis' hometown is less than 100 miles from Texas Stadium, and he grew up watching the Cowboys win three Super Bowls in a four-year stretch in the first half of the 1990s. Dallas has won only one playoff game since, in the 1996 NFC wild-card game.
Backup quarterback Brad Johnson is the only Dallas player who has won a Super Bowl ring, which he got as Tampa Bay's starter five years ago.
Tank Johnson played for the Chicago Bears in the Super Bowl last February, and Hamlin was with Seattle but didn't play for the Seahawks in the Super Bowl the year before that.
Owens played in the Super Bowl for Philadelphia three years ago, but his postseason victories came previously in San Francisco since he missed the Eagles' other two playoff games that season with an ankle injury.
Guard Kyle Kosier was with the 49ers as a rookie when they won a playoff game during the 2002 season. Terry Glenn played in the Super Bowl as a rookie with New England during the 1996 season, though he was suspended when the Patriots won five years later.
Hamlin has a simple message for his teammates.
``I'll reiterate to them that we're not just happy to get to the playoffs. I'm not happy just to be in the playoffs,'' Hamlin said. ``I want to win this next game. That's what I'm worried about. Period.''
Phillips, looking for his first playoff victory as a head coach, liked the response of his team when he put them through some fundamental drills Wednesday.
``We had a brisk, very good practice. The guys were really into it,'' Phillips said. ``What's happened in the past and what's going to happen in the future, we don't know. Right now is our opportunity.''
Glenn, who missed the first 15 games after two operations on his right knee, practiced Wednesday. Also on the field were Pro Bowl center Andre Gurode, nose tackle Jay Ratliff, cornerback Terence Newman and backup safety Patrick Watkins after all missed the regular-season finale.
Owens, recovering from a high left ankle sprain that kept him out of the 27-6 loss at Washington, was the only player who missed practice. But Phillips expects Owens, who jogged some Tuesday, to play in the first playoff game.
``Our people say he's ahead of schedule,'' Phillips said. ``I feel that he's going to play. ... We'd like to have him for more than one game too, so you've got be careful there.''