IRVING, Texas -- In the final month of the regular season, the Dallas Cowboys started games fast.
After failing to score on their first two drives Dec. 4 against the Chicago Bears, they scored on seven straight possessions. They scored on their first three possessions against the Philadelphia Eagles, and their first four against the Indianapolis Colts. Against the Washington Redskins, they scored on their first five possessions.
Defensively, they gave up just seven points in the first quarters of those games.
But in the wild-card win against the Detroit Lions, the Cowboys allowed the Lions to score on their first two possessions. The Cowboys had to punt on their first four possessions.
“This was a decent day for us to not start slow because teams now are getting better,” wide receiver Terrance Williams said. “The slower we start, the harder it is to come back … We can’t start slow (this week) because they’ve got a high-powered offense. We got to keep our mindset in it.”
Coach Jason Garrett attributed the slow start to the newness of the playoffs for his team. Defensive end Jeremy Mincey said the Cowboys were too anxious on defense and got out of gaps. The Cowboys had a difficult time with the Lions’ pressure.
“It certainly was a big focus for us as a coaching staff last week to stay in that same routine, to prepare each day, focus on each day and focus on just going out and playing,” Garrett said. “To be honest with you, I don’t know that we achieved that early on in the ballgame. I think guys were excited, they were amped up, and at different times we didn’t play with as good of technique as we’ve played with in all three phases up to this point in the season. I think it was because it was kind of a playoff atmosphere, so I do think our guys learned a little bit from (the Lions’) experience. We have a young team, not many guys have been in the playoffs and I think they further understood what we were trying to convey to them all during the week. You just go out and play. We understand the stakes are higher, everybody gets that. But the idea to somehow, some way to create a feeling like you’re just going to play like you always play. I think as that game wore on, we did a better job at that.”
The Packers were off last week so they could have that anxiety this week, even if they have more recent playoff success.
“It starts all over again,” Mincey said. “We just got to do the same thing we did last week, prepare and come out faster. I think the guys know what to expect now so it’ll be easier in getting started faster.”