In his pregame speech, Cowboys coach Wade Phillips implored his players to dedicate the game to someone. It was spurred by the deaths of Jay Ratliff's grandparents, who died in a house fire.
"You play for yourself certainly, and you play for a lot of people and a lot of things, but if you can pick out somebody specifically and dedicate the game to them, I think it’s important to do every once in a while," Phillips said. "It’s not about yourself. It’s not about yourself only. I just tried to get that point to them. Now how many of them listened and how many of them did it?"
Several players said after the game they had done just that.
Roy Williams dedicated the game to his father, who was celebrating his birthday Sunday.
Phillips said he dedicated the game to his father, Bum, who coached the Houston Oilers and still is an icon in Houston.
"I told them I was going to coach for my dad," said Phillips, who tied his father with 82 career victories. "I think the world of him, and I was going to try to coach my best for him and our team. I told them that, too. It’s about people. It’s not just a football game. It’s not just a Madden game. It’s about people."
Phillips gave the speech once before, as interim coach in Atlanta, when he dedicated the game to Brownwood High School coach Gordon Wood shortly after Wood died in 2003. The Falcons beat Tampa Bay.
"It was a personal thing for him, and I thought well shoot, I’d like to dedicate this game to Gordon Wood," Phillips said. "I told the players the same thing, they ought to dedicate it somebody. I don’t know if it works or doesn’t work, but I think it’s important people-wise. That’s the way I live my life."
-- Charean Williams