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December 16, 2012

Cowboys knew they were playing for division lead against Steelers, Jones says it's "not unrealistic" for team to make long playoff run

Everyone in the Dallas Cowboys’ locker room, from the owner on down, were well aware of the potential stakes that awaited the team when it took the field for Sunday’s matchup against Pittsburgh.

Thanks to the New York Giants’ stunning 34-0 loss to Atlanta, the Cowboys (8-6) knew a victory against the Steelers would elevate them into a share of first place in the NFC East.

“We were all aware of it before we played,” said owner Jerry Jones, who did not believe the knowledge added additional motivation. “Our team knew that we had an opportunity to get into a position to lead the East. … I think it’s great because it shows several things. No. 1, it shows that these teams are pretty close and No. 2, you can legitimately look at how the Giants played last year and what they did at the end of the year and how they took it all the way and that’s not unrealistic to think that it can happen to you.”

Although aware of the opportunity at hand, coach Jason Garrett said the Cowboys were able to look past the ramifications of the divisional race and focus on the challenge of beating the Steelers.

“We’re not concerned about the standings,” Garrett said. “We’re focused on the task at hand. We’re not concerned what anyone else is doing or what the standings say. We have to take care of our job, we have to get better and we have to win one ball game.”

_ Jimmy Burch

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