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November 12, 2012

Witten says win over Philly will only quiet critics as long as Cowboys keep winning

Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten pointed to Sunday’s 38-23 victory over Philadelphia as an example that players “don’t worry about that outside noise” concerning the job status of coach Jason Garrett or outsiders’ observations about the team’s 4-5 start or playoff potential.

But he stressed during a teleconfence this morning that the Cowboys’ latest victory will be a short-term reprieve from off-field distractions _ or more speculation about Garrett’s job status _ if Dallas does not pick up victories in Sunday’s matchup against Cleveland (2-7), followed by a Thanksgiving Day showdown against Washington (3-6). Both games are at home, where Dallas will play five of its next six games in quest of gaining ground on the New York Giants (6-4) in the NFC East race.

“It gets back to football (this week),” Witten said. “But you lose another game and there’s going to be more talk. We know what’s at stake, and I thought it was big of our team to go find a way to win, and hopefully we’ll build on that.”

In the past two weeks, the names of Mike Holmgren and Sean Payton have been lofted as possible replacements for Garrett, 17-16 in his career as the Cowboys’ coach, if owner Jerry Jones chooses to make a change. Jones has repeatedly spoken in support of Garrett and did against Sunday despite last week’s criticism from former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson about a “country-club atmosphere” within the Dallas locker room.

Witten and other players have disputed Johnson’s assessment. They envision the upcoming stretch of home games, which includes a Dec. 2 rematch against Philadelphia (3-6), as an opportunity to make a playoff push and hope the triumph in Philly provides a launching pad.

“A win, it cures a lot of things. Having said that, though, you go lose the following week and it kind of minimizes this win,” Witten said. “Two games coming up here pretty quickly and, obviously, we need to win all of them.”

_ Jimmy Burch

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