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Cowboys fighting for their playoff lives
It's must-win time for the Dallas Cowboys (5-5) against the Los Angeles Chargers (4-6) on Thursday.
The Cowboys have little more room for error as they hope to stay in the playoff chase in the NFC. The division is all but gone to the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Cowboys' only realistic hope is the wild-card and they must get things turned around following two straight blowout losses.
The players have had their own internal talks, led by tight end Jason Witten, who spoke to the offense. Head coach Jason Garrett has let them know they can win out or lose out. It's on them and time for them to show their character.
Quarterback Dak Prescott said it's his job to play better after the worst performance of his career in a four-turnover meltdown in 37-9 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last Sunday, but also remain the steady leader.
"It's huge. For me it's just about being the same whether it's winning or losing, it's about being the same and never wavering, never showing lack of confidence in myself and my teammates," Prescott said.
"It's about just being there for them, keeping them going and having all the confidence that we'll go 11-5 moving forward."
Prescott promises to be better going forward because he is going to play smarter in the passing game and cut it loose more as runner. He can point to instances against the Eagles in which those things possibly could have made a difference for an offense that has had just one touchdown the past two weeks.
And while he didn't throw the football well, he said he is more disappointed in the misreads and poor decisions he made as a quarterback than the errant passes.
One play in particular came late in the second quarter. It was third-and-6 from the Eagles' 29 and he faced an all-out blitz. Prescott threw deep to Dez Bryant in the end zone. But he should have gone to wide-open Cole Beasley crossing underneath instead on a play that would have resulted in a first down and perhaps a touchdown.
Prescott said he is still beating his head against the wall for that decision because it could have made a huge difference in the game, possibly allowing the Cowboys to lead 16-7 at halftime while gaining confidence and momentum. Instead, they had to settle for a field goal in what was the last of their points of the game as the Eagles scored 30 consecutive points in the second half.
"I've just got to take some passes underneath and let guys run with the ball in their hands," Prescott said. "The game goes back to two or three plays, and you can always say if we would've done this or that on that play it would've been a different game.
"For me, it's just getting the ball out sometimes and trust a short route is going to get as much as a deep ball down the field."
Prescott also recalled a run on the sideline where he went out of bounds after the first down rather than cutting it up the field to possibly gain more yards. He said everyone has to do more.
"We've got to execute better, we've got to make guys miss sometimes, one-on-ones we've got to make guys miss, sometimes getting out of the pocket instead of running out of bounds - hey maybe I'll try to make that safety miss and try to score," Prescott said. "It's just that one right now, fighting, it's got to come out of us right now."
SERIES HISTORY: 11th regular-season meeting. Cowboys lead series, 6-4. The Chargers have won the last two. The last meeting was in 2013, a 30-21 Chargers victory.