IRVING, Texas -- There are just six players -- Tony Romo, Jason Witten, L.P. Ladouceur, Anthony Spencer, Doug Free and Orlando Scandrick -- left on the Dallas Cowboys roster from their last playoff appearance in 2009.
Spencer sees major differences between the current group of Cowboys heading into the NFL playoffs now and the one that did so under coach Wade Phillips in 2009.
"No one expected it," Spencer said of this year's run. "It was more us against everybody else that type of mentality. With other teams we had a lot of hype going into the playoffs and into the season. This season it's been completely different. We stuck to each other and worked for each other, that's the way it's been and it's been paying off for us."
This year's group went 8-0 on the road while the 2009 team finished 5-3. That 2009 team went 5-3 in December and January and this group went 4-0 in December. It was the first time the Cowboys went undefeated in December since going 5-0 during the 1993 season, when the team won Super Bowl XXVIII.
"Every team is different," tight end Jason Witten said. "I felt like we got hot in '09 too when we played Philadelphia back-to-back. This team, going back to April, has had a mindset: It's about execution. It's about that winning formula and about putting your head down and going to work. Probably more so with any team that I've been apart of, guys are together, they're focus on it and what's going to give us a chance to be successful, we know how we have to play. The margin is very limited of what you can do and this team does a very good job of understanding and knowing what you need to do."
All the players who were on that 2009 playoff team that are still here and major contributors. Romo has produced a MVP-type season, Witten, despite not being named to the Pro Bowl this year, is considered one of the best players at his position. Spencer has played well of late after recovering from microfracture surgery, Free, after missing a few games this season with foot injuries, is a veteran presence along the offensive line. Scandrick, a starter, and Ladouceur, the deep snapper are key members of the team.
"Every year that I've been here, the team has changed," said Spencer, who has six quarterback pressures the last four weeks. "In some aspect it changed in some ways, it just so happens, I'm still here and a lot of guys aren't around."