Wednesday, December 16, 2009

"We Need This Game," Says Austin

By Scott Crisp

Entering Saturday night's match-up between the Cowboys and the Saints in New Orleans, the accompanying storylines vary greatly between the two cities.

Dallas wonders aloud whether or not the season is falling apart, whether or not this edition can pull it together enough in the month of December to get into the playoffs and maybe (maybe) win a game. In New Orleans, the talk centers around perfection, and with good reason.

At 13-0, New Orleans will face Dallas on Saturday night at the Superdome with the division locked up. At 8-5, the Cowboys will be, barring the unforeseeable, the last real test of the season for the Saints. After this game, Sean Payton's boys will have only the Carolina Panthers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers--a combined record of 6-20--standing between them, and a perfect regular season.

Some have wondered openly whether the Cowboys will present a test at all for the Saints, which says as much about the impressiveness of New Orleans as it does about the struggles of Dallas. New Orleans has been nothing less than generally dominant this season on all sides of the ball. The Cowboys, well, they're looking to get back on the right track, quite a challenge at this point considering the competition and the locale awaiting them on Saturday.

The Cowboys are up against it--'it' meaning any number of things, not the least of which are 'December' and 'the New Orleans Saints'--and everyone knows it, including the Cowboys themselves.

"It's a huge challenge," said receiver Miles Austin. "We need this game and I think there is a sense of urgency when it comes to this game so we'll see what happens."

While Austin and the Cowboys have any number of reasons to 'get up' (as they say) for Saturday night, the perfect season, Austin said on Wednesday, isn't one of them.

"We're not really focused on that," Austin said. "We've just got to go in and play the best ball we've played and finish the season strong. That's all we can do."