The Washington Redskins (8-7) on Sunday play the Dallas Cowboys (4-11) in 2015 Week 17 action at AT&T Stadium.
On Wednesday, Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett and linebacker Sean Lee spoke to the Washington, D.C., media about their upcoming matchup against the Redskins.
Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett
On if he is willing to take more chances in this game with nothing on the line:
"Oh, I think you're always just trying to win the ballgame. Certainly you want to be aggressive in what you do in all three phases in every game, but you want to be sound. You want to do things you think give your team the best chance to win. That applies to offense, defense and in the kicking game."
On their victory against the Redskins in Week 13:**
"Well, I think the game actually mirrored a lot of the games that we played, to be honest with you. We have 11 losses and in nine of them we were in great position at the end of the ballgame to win the game. That particular night we did the things necessary to win. We made a significant play in the kicking game to knock the ball out of their punt returner's hand and give us great field position. We scored on offense. Ultimately they came back and drove the ball and scored a touchdown, but then we responded the right way both in the kicking game and on offense to give ourselves a chance to kick the game-winning field goal. A number of the games that we've played this year, they've come down to very similar scenarios. Buffalo was no different the other day. A lot of the games we played were almost identical to that. Ultimately the team that makes the plays at the end of the ballgame are going to win most of these games in the NFL. That particular night we were able to do that."
On wide receiver Dez Bryant's season:
"He just battled through a lot of different things. Initially he wasn't with us throughout the offseason because of his contract situation and then when he came back he was dealing with some injuries throughout training camp. He got himself ready to play in the opener against the [New York] Giants and then he broke his foot. So you're dealing with a lot of different things physically as a player in this league all the time, but he had a number of different things that he had to overcome. You know, I thought he did a good job working back from that injury. He did have surgery on that foot and got himself ready to play again. Initially, he wasn't practicing a full week of practice. He was working his way through practice and getting acclimated to playing again. He actually re-injured his ankle and his knee a couple games back into the lineup on a touchdown catch he made against Philadelphia, so he was dealing with that as well. So many of these players over the course of the year have to deal with injuries, play through them and try to overcome them. That was the kind of year that Dez had. Ultimately both the foot and the ankle had been bothering him to the point that he wasn't able to play last week and we put him on IR this week."
On the fine line between maintaining momentum and resting starters:
"I think different coaches will handle it different ways based on where they are with their team and maybe the health of their team. I think any way a coach handles it is valid. He knows his team better than anybody else. We just felt like, for our football team last year, that was the right thing to do. We'd been playing good football and we felt like it was important for us to go out there to Washington and play our best football game. Our guys played, they wanted to play, they played well. It was a big win for our football team. We played the next week against Detroit. We won our first playoff game before losing to Green Bay a couple weeks later. But we just felt like it was the right thing for our team. Our players embraced it and did a really good job in that particular game."
Dallas Cowboys Linebacker Sean Lee
On what the team was able to do well in the Week 13 win:
"I think we were able to, defensively, we were able to play well in certain situations. On offense that's been scoring a lot of points and moving the ball a lot, I thought we did a pretty good job for most of the game. You know, I think we got a little bit lucky with how we played. Down the stretch, defensively, we weren't able to stop them, defensively. We allowed them to come back and score a tying touchdown but our offense did a great job of picking us up and making plays down the stretch, but that's something we're going to have to address. We haven't been very good defensively in the fourth quarter the entire year. We've lost games because of it."
On Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett:
"I think Jason has done an unbelievable job motivating us. Obviously, we haven't played well this year but I think we have a program where we're going to keep building and going to keep getting better, especially when we get back next year, but we have to prove that. I think the players, obviously, all of us can do a better job. Our record reflects how we've played and what we've earned. I think Jason has done a fantastic job and I know I've become a better player since he's been the coach."
On how much of a factor injuries were for the Cowboys this season:
"Well, I think when you have injuries, your margin for error becomes a little bit smaller. At the same point, you can't use those as excuses. We've been in a lot of close games, yet we haven't found ways to win, especially the fourth quarter. You can look back even last week, we're in a close game, it was the defense's shot to get off the field and we allow them to drive and score a touchdown. I think those are problems that we're working on now that are tangible and that we need to address starting now. Injuries happen to every team and you try not to use those as excuses."
On the change in the Redskins' offense since Week 13:
"I think they're efficient and scoring points. They're not making mistakes. They're not turning the ball over. They're playing at a very, very high level. I think it starts at quarterback. Kirk's been fantastic, making a ton of plays. They're just firing on all cylinders it just seems like right now."
On if the Redskins are being more aggressive:
"Yeah, I think any time you're able to score that many points, they're able to make plays. But I think they're still doing it within their offense within the type of way they want to play. They still run the ball, they still take shots, but I think they're doing it within the offense. I think they're probably just getting better and better."
On the internal pressure the Cowboys created in the last game against the Redskins:
"I think we had a good game plan. I think any time you play a quarterback like Kirk, you want to pressure him. You want to make him uncomfortable. You don't want to allow him to sit in the pocket and make throws. I think that was something we did well in the first game, and hopefully we can continue to get pressure on him. But we have to be able to stop in all phases – stop the run and cut down on some of the big shots. But I think it starts with being able to get pressure on him."