Cowboys hope home success carries over

IRVING, Texas -- Home has not been so sweet for the Dallas Cowboys this season, but they are hoping a change in the schedule they used in their Dec. 21 meeting against the Indianapolis Colts at AT&T Stadium will have the same success when the Detroit Lions visit in Sunday’s wild card.

To better match the home schedule with their road schedule, where the Cowboys were the only undefeated road team, coach Jason Garrett will have the players report to their hotel, the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, Texas, by 5 p.m. CT.

For road trips, the Cowboys typically arrive at the hotel by 5 p.m. in the opposing city.

“Just really as much as anything else we’ve recreated the feeling that we have in a road game,” Garrett said. “Typically we get to the hotel at 5:00, 5:15. Guys go up to the room, they hang out a little bit, and then they come down for dinner. Sometimes when you’re home you get a little late for whatever reason. So we just felt like it was better to have them over there, spend a little time together, watch the football that’s on and just kind of enjoy the camaraderie.”

The Cowboys beat the Colts 42-7 with the new schedule to finish 4-4 at AT&T Stadium for the season. They entered that game losing three straight home games.

Sunday’s game against the Lions will be the second playoff meeting AT&T Stadium has hosted. The Cowboys beat the Philadelphia Eagles 34-14 in the wild-card round of the 2009 playoffs.

Players have said the crowd noise against the Colts was as good as it had been all season, and at times the Cowboys have not had much of an edge at home with a high percentage of visiting fans. That should not be a problem Sunday.

“They were behind us, they supported us and we have to give our fans something to cheer about,” Garrett said. “Certainly a playoff atmosphere is something that can benefit the home team and we want to take full advantage of that. Ultimately what matters most is what we do on the field, play in and play out in all three phases of our team.”