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Quotes from the Dallas Cowboys - week 13

The Dallas Cowboys spoke to the media following their week 13 game against the New Orleans Saints on Thursday, Nov. 29

Dallas Cowboys

Head Coach Jason Garrett

Big win tonight. Played great defense:

Yeah, obviously a really good offensive football team that we played and I just thought we did a really good job throughout the ballgame just slowing them down. We defended the run really well. They're at their best when they're balanced. I thought we did a good job getting around the quarterback and I thought we did a good job just contesting the plays down the field. They got a couple of them, but I thought our guys covered really well and just made it hard on them throughout the game. Obviously third downs are big, getting off the field consistently throughout.

How'd you use the LBs to contain Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara?

Well, obviously everybody is important. The game was going to start upfront on both sides of the ball. We had to win the physical battle in the trenches. I thought we did that. Our linebackers are very active and they have to be against those guys. I mean, both those runners are just outstanding. Outstanding runners and really good receivers. They're a big part of what they try to do in the passing game. So they had to be able to guard them. They had to be aware of where they were in zone and do a good job tackling them in space and then just covering them in man-to-man. I thought they did a good job of that throughout.

Did you have a good feeling in practice this week?

Our team works really hard. They come to work every day and they get locked into what we need to do each day in our preparation leading up to these ballgames. We just try to take it one day at a time, one step at a time, try to practice well, stack good days on top of each other and let that preparation show up in the game. I thought it did throughout our team tonight.

What was your reaction to the Jourdan Lewis INT to seal the game?

Yeah, just a huge play. And you know, Jourdan's been a guy who's made a lot of big plays on the ball for us. He was going to have a big role for us tonight. He played some dime in the game because of all the skill they have on offense. And he did a good job covering and obviously that's the biggest play of the game. To be able to take that ball away on the last drive and end the game there was huge. He just has a knack for it. He's always around the ball. He's got really good hands, really good feel. And that was a huge play in the game for us.

Did you envision holding this offense to 10 points?

Again, our defense did an excellent job and we have great respect for their offense and the skill they have and what they're capable of doing. The biggest thing we try to do is focus on ourselves and play the way we're capable of playing. Play sound fundamental defense. Play fast. Play physical. Win the line of scrimmage. Be a great tackling team. Contest throws. All those things we try to emphasize day in and day out had to show up in this ballgame for 60 minutes. One of the big keys of this game to handle the success of the game and keep playing. Handle the adversity of the game and keep playing. It was going to be a 60-minute game. We got out in front of this thing. We did a good job stopping them defensively. We did a good job possessing the football offensively. We got ahead, but we knew they'd keep coming. And we had to keep coming. We made some critical stops at the end of the ballgame and everybody had a piece of it.

3 wins in 11 days. How big is rest for your team?

Yeah, you know, when you play Thursday-Thursday, this Thanksgiving schedule we've been on the last few years, this is kind of the second bye week after Thanksgiving. Our guys did a really good job preparing over this last month or so knowing that we had a lot of football in a short period of time. They were very professional in taking care of their bodies. Getting their mind and spirit right to practice the right way and play the right way. Now we get a chance to heal up a little bit for the next three days. We'll get right back to work on Monday and get ready for the next challenge.

Thoughts on Randy Gregory's night tonight:

Two bad plays. Obviously running into the kicker was huge and gave them another bite of the apple, another possession, after we'd made a stop. And then, we make a huge play—a sack fumble—and I guess they said he lined up offsides. So obviously that took that huge play away. So, those are significant plays. Those are two turnovers if you think about it. But Randy is going about it the right way, he's working hard, he'll learn from those and he'll get better going forward.

Does this win send a message to the rest of the NFL?

All due respect, we're not too concerned about sending a message. We're just focused on our football team and what we need to do to get better and get ready for that next challenge next week.

What's the best thing about your defense right now?

We can lock in on what we need to do. We play fundamentally sound defense. We play fast. We play physical. We play hard. We play together. We're still a work in progress, there's plenty of plays out there that we've got to clean up as we go, but they play with a tremendous spirit. A relentless nature. It's contagious throughout the team. It starts up front. We've got a lot of guys who love to play football. It shows up and leaps off the tape when we watch it. That has to continue. We'll clean the things up as we go, but we'll continue to play with that spirit.

What did you like most about Dak tonight?

I thought he was so solid throughout the game. Made really good decisions. When he had opportunities downfield, he took advantage of them. When he checked the ball down, he did that. We were more efficient in the passing game. Completed a lot of balls. Made huge plays with his feet in the game. Obviously the turnovers hurt us, but again, he'll learn from those experiences. He's just a good football player and he too plays with an unbelievable spirit that's contagious throughout our team.

You took advantage of Eli Apple early. See anything going in?

Again, we're really just focused on what we need to do. We believe in our receivers and we saw some things in their coverages that we felt we could take advantage of. Dak did a really good job just reading things out and throwing to the right guy. And he made some big-time throws. It wasn't perfect throughout the game, but over and over and over again, he mad big-time plays at critical moments. That was important for us. We still have to look at the tape, correct some of the things and get better as we go forward.

Do you feel like this team had a belief to them coming into tonight?

Again, our guys work really hard. I think they believe in themselves. I think they believe in each other and what we're doing. The big focus is on us, not really about the opponent. Great respect for the Saints and what they've accomplished. They're a great football team. A lot of great players, a lot of great coaches. They've won 10 games in a row. That's hard to do in the NFL. But our attention was on our selves and what we needed to do to play our best football.

You're finding out more about Michael Gallup:

Yeah, Mike did an excellent job. Made the big play early on. He's one of those guys that, if left alone out there, he can make plays for us. Obviously Amari's done an excellent job for us. Every time we throw him the ball, usually good things happen. Zeke did a really good job in this game just pounding away. They had a lot of guys around the line of scrimmage. They were going to make it hard on us to run the football, but he just kept pounding away. And again, I just thought Dak's decision-making was awfully good. So when you have different guys attacking the defense, that allows you to be that much more efficient and that much more effective offensively. I thought we had a lot of really good drives in this game. Possessed the ball. Unfortunately, we didn't cash in on a couple of them, we had to kick field goals when we got down in there close. We turned it over one time. But again, I think everybody had a piece of it. Michael certainly had a big part of it throughout the game.

Late in the 1H on a Saints 3*rd*-and-long, you didn't call timeout. Why not?

There was a third down situation for them. It was after a sack. And we felt good about where we were in the game and not giving them another opportunity in that point. That's just how it worked out.

What has changed about the team over the win streak?

Yeah, I just think the biggest thing we try to do is we try to come to work every day and grow. We have a young football team, so they're learning from their experiences as they go. When things are good, you try to build on those things. And when things aren't good, you try to correct them and move forward and keep working. They try to get better every day and grow week by week. I think we've done that. This team works hard. They play with a tremendous spirit. They love playing football. They love playing together. I think that's showing up in these games.

Leighton Vander Esch was great again tonight:

Yeah, Leighton's a really good player. And you said it, he's just very active. He's around the ball a lot, both in the run game and the pass game. He too plays with an unbelievable spirit that's contagious throughout our team. He's physical, he loves the game. He had a challenge tonight. Those runners are really good. They can be very dangerous in space. I thought he and Jaylon and our linebacking core did a good job corralling those guys.

Quarterback Dak Prescott

On tonight's game: "Honestly just feeding off of each other, offense and defense. Playing complimentary football. When the defense plays like that- it was an incredible game by them against a great offense. It was just a great game to be a part of."

On his early success: "Just get completions. Just get the ball out. A lot of quick game- that was nice to have. I was able to take a shot downfield early to open it up. As I said if we have success early on taking shots down the field, it opens up our whole game. Then able to get some screens called. Was able to just call some things at will. Credit the good defense against the good time we played. Still left some plays out there on offense, but great game.

On three wins in 11 days: "It's big. Credit this team, this coaching staff, this organization for just being able to run off three games as we did in this short span. It was fun, it was a great challenge for us but it will be important for us to take these next couple of days off and get our bodies back great, get healthy, and get ready to get this thing back rolling."

On his comfort level: "The way we've been winning some of these games lately, even close games, we come into a game like this against a team on a 10-game winning streak- you have to have that confidence. We came out early. You could just feel it in the locker room, you could feel it in pre game warm ups- the energy of this stadium and environment. We were able to feed off of that and our confidence grew as the game went. Even when we had adversity, we believed in each other. The offense believed in the defense making a play and getting us out of bad positions and vice versa. It was just great complimentary football tonight."

On a statement win: "I think anytime you go out there and beat a team that has won 10 games straight, it's somewhat of a statement but it's not anything that we can hang our hats on and say we are pleased with doing. We've got a lot to work on. As I said, we missed plays out there. I'm sure the defense wants to clean up a lot of things that they did. As Zeke (Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott) spoke about in the locker room, it was a great win but we've got a lot more to do and a lot more to get better at. That's just the mindset and mentality of this team. We've got a young team that always wants to get better even in wins. We like our chances."

On Wednesday's team meeting: "It was just one of his (Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett) normal team meetings. But as I said, you could just feel the energy from him and the guys. We broke that team meeting and guys were fired up. Obviously that carried over to tonight. We had it all day-to-day. It was just great.

"It was anything different or anything specific that he said. It was a big game. A big game, and guys wanted to go there and make big-time plays in a big game and in big moments. He just said all the right things."

On the game's physicality: "Week in and week out, it is physical. Obviously. But playing a good team like that, a 13-10 game, it was very physical."

On what has changed during the team's win streak: "Just our mindset. Honestly our mindset. We didn't get down on ourselves. We didn't count ourselves out like everybody did when were 3-5. We knew we had lost a couple of games before that, that we should have won. We should have made a play there, and those games would have been different. We just kept that mentality to get better every week. Stack good days on top of good days at practice, and that will end up just stacking wins. That's what we've been able to do, but as I said, we've got to continue to get better at that."

On blocking out the noise: "Not when you have the team you have, and the coaching staff. As I said, we're a young team, but it's a team with a lot of confidence and a team with a lot of fight. As I said, our backs were against the wall. It just shows the character of this team. We're not surrendering to anybody and we're moving forward, regardless of what we have to do. That's just been special for us over the last four weeks or so, just been able to move forward not worried about anything outside of our locker room or what we do. Just staying tight to who we are."

On tonight's win proving something: "When we were at 3-4, we knew what we were capable of but it was just about stacking good days on top of each other. As I said, this is a team where a lot of us were here two years ago when we rolled off 11 straight. In this league, it's about taking it one day at a time and we take that mentality. Stay focused each and every game, and you have the chance to win four straight as we have now."

On confidence going into final month: "We need to take the confidence that we've had these past four weeks and just continue to grow, continue to get better and every phase of the game- offense, defense, and special teams. The defense, they did that tonight. We didn't make enough plays on offense, we could have made more plays. We left plays out there. But when we have the defense that we have versus an offense like that, how can you not be confident."

On replicating 2016 win streak: "We have four games left. We're going to take it one game at a time. All we're worried about is next week and if we can continue that mindset of just taking it one game at a time- honestly before that just take it one practice at a time and that will translate to one game at a time- then we give ourselves a chance."

On the defense's goal line stand: "That's one of those deals where you say we've got this game. It's not in the bag because we stopped them but you could just tell the way we are playing on defense, the things that we're doing on offense, that after a turnover like that giving them great field position, and to be able to just stop them right there- that was huge. At that moment, the offense knew that the defense had our back right there. We just had to handle our own and have their back and we were able to do that."

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