Cowboys dismiss lack of style points in notching 12th win: ‘That’s for y’all’

Reaching twelve wins in an NFL season isn’t easy. It had happened to quarterback Dak Prescott only twice since being drafted by Dallas. Head coach Mike McCarthy achieved it just three times in his 12-plus seasons in Green Bay.

Getting there Thursday night sure wasn’t pretty, and that’s perfectly fine with the 2022 Cowboys.

After notching a 12th win for the second straight year- the first time the franchise has done that since the dynasty days of the 1990s- neither McCarthy nor Prescott were interested in entertaining talk about whether they won by enough.

“We came here for the win,” McCarthy told reporters from the podium after beating a depleted Tennessee squad that rested many of its star players. “We’re not going to get into what it’s supposed to be and things like that, because that’s how you get yourself in trouble.”

The 27-13 final score doesn’t look as close as the game felt for most of the night, with Dallas holding just a four-point lead as the fourth quarter began. The Titans, even without superstar running back Derrick Henry, outgained the Cowboys on the ground, and quarterback Josh Dobbs- with the playbook for just eight days- finished just 50 yards behind Prescott in passing.

But despite three turnovers and an offense that looked lackluster at times, the Cowboys prevailed. And that’s the important part to the players in the locker room.

“A thousand percent,” Prescott said in his press conference from Nissan Stadium. “A win’s a win. Obviously, there’s things to clean up, but they’re much easier and feel much better to clean up when you got the win. This is the NFL, and I say it time and time again: give these other guys credit. These guys get paid to do their job whether their starters are out or not.

“A win’s a win, and we’re going to take it and get better from the mistakes, and we’re going to make sure that we’re improving. But a road win on a short week? You’ve got to take them all. And the style points and all that? That’s for y’all that think games are won on paper.”

The league’s schedule-makers certainly did the team no favors. Dallas was faced with a brutal three-games-in-12-days stretch (with two games in each span coming on the road) on two separate occasions this season, all in the last seven weeks.

“This was a hard stretch,” McCarthy admitted Thursday night after giving his players the next three days off. “We knew this was going to be a hard stretch when the schedule came out, and that really held true. I’m happy these guys have got a couple days to catch their breath, because this has been a tough fourth quarter [of the season] so far.”

November and December have been especially tough for Prescott’s personal stats. The two-time Pro Bowler has been criticized for throwing 12 interceptions over the past two months, even though several of them have been either the fault of his receivers or pure bad luck. He now has 14 picks in 2022, the most he’s thrown in any season as a pro.

The only game in that stretch Prescott didn’t throw an interception was the 40-3 shellacking of Minnesota in Week 11, a day when just three of his tosses even hit the ground. But the passer bristled at the expectation that such an outing can be dialed up and put on repeat every week against every opponent.

“That’s all external and outside of our locker room,” he told media members. “All that talk, that’s for y’all, and we’re going to let y’all talk. What we’ve got is a culture and a brotherhood that knows what they have, what we have, what we’re capable of doing.”

Prescott pointed out that, apart from the three drives that ended via self-inflicted turnovers, the Cowboys scored points on five of their eight other possessions.

“We came out with a win,” he continued. “On a Thursday night, after a short week, against a team that was playing their ass off. A win’s a win at the end of the day. Whether they’re ugly, whether there are style points, you’ve got to take them however you can get them. And there’s a lot of confidence and things that you can take from that to move forward.”

Dallas also appeared to have cleaned up their penalty problem in recent weeks. In their five contests since Thanksgiving, they’re averaging just three flags per game. Against Tennessee, they didn’t incur any penalties at all until the second half.

But anyone who watched Thursday’s game saw a Cowboys team that, while maddeningly sloppy at times, is still talented enough to win even when they’re not at their best.

“It wasn’t clean. This wasn’t a clean performance. We recognize that; I’m not disputing that at all,” McCarthy admitted. “But I do know my football team. I know they came out of a hard victory [in Week 16], and it took them a little longer to get their bodies back, but that’s what Thursday Night Football is. It’s a tough challenge when you have to go on the road and all those things. But the most important thing is we answered the bell and we got it done.

“This was a game we needed to get, and we got it done. Whether we don’t get any style points, that’s okay. We’re still at 12 wins.”


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Story originally appeared on Cowboys Wire