Cowboys 'excited' about chance

IRVING, Texas -- For the second time in a calendar year, the Cowboys will play in an NFC East title game when they play at Washington on Sunday.

In January, they lost the 2011 NFC East championship game at the New York Giants, 31-14, and now they get another crack to earn a playoff spot.

A loss, and the Cowboys cannot make the playoffs. With a win, the Cowboys would host a wild-card game.

“We are excited about it,” coach Jason Garrett said. “You live for games like this. We have worked very hard to get to this point, and it will be a great challenge for us going up to Washington. But we played 15 ballgames and we’ve got a chance to go play for the NFC East crown on Sunday night, so we are awfully excited about the opportunity.”

Despite the overtime loss to New Orleans, the Cowboys were able to control their playoff fate because of the Giants’ loss at Baltimore.

This is the third win-and-in game the Cowboys have had since 2008, entering their season finale. They lost to Philadelphia in 2008 and the Giants last season.

“Experience can be a really positive thing,” Garrett said. “It doesn’t always have to be a positive thing. Sometimes it can be a bad experience when you didn’t get the job done, and hopefully you can learn from what happened, what you did or didn’t do in that situation, and go forward. We have a lot of different football players than we had over the last four or five years. We know that. Every year is a new team but there have been some guys who were in those games as players and coaches, and hopefully we can benefit from those experiences.”

The players are off Monday and Tuesday, and will have a brief review of Sunday’s loss to New Orleans before diving into the Redskins. The Cowboys lost 38-31 to the Redskins on Thanksgiving.

“There are so many experiences that you try to draw from,” Garrett said. “We’ll draw from the game we played against Washington just a few weeks ago in terms of our preparation and try to get ready to play our best game.”