Cowboys need Herculean effort

It's a common phrase you'll hear this week: "it's hard to beat a team three times in any given season." Well ... is it?

Of course, by now you know that's exactly what the Dallas Cowboys are faced with Saturday against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Having already pounded the birds 24-0 Sunday afternoon at Cowboys Stadium and having squeaked out a 20-16 win on the road in early November, Dallas will battle Philadelphia for a third time Saturday ... and this time it comes on the biggest stage of all- the playoffs.

Fact is, teams who have beaten a team twice during the regular to season who have to face an opponent a third time in the playoffs are 12-7 against those teams.

Not bad, eh?

Not bad until you look at the Cowboys' record in that scenario.

Turns out Dallas is 0-2 when facing a team for the third time in a season after having won the previous two contests.

Remember it was just two years ago Dallas lost to the Giants, at home no less, after beating them two times during the regular season. The same thing occurred in 1998 when the Cowboys lost to the Arizona Cardinals 20-7- again at home.

Fast forward to 2009/2010 and here we are with America's Team facing that exact same predicament, and this time it comes the week after the Cowboys last win over the very same team it faces in the playoffs.

Talk about strange.

"I think if you go into the playoffs like we have, it gives you a good opportunity," Dallas coach Wade Phillips said. "We all know that playoff teams are there because they have good players and they've earned their way in. Philadelphia has won 11 games, just as we have.

"They're tough to beat. Division teams know you well. They are tough to beat any way you do it. I think playing at home and having won should give us some confidence. But we still have to go out and do it."

History may not be on the side of the Dallas Cowboys entering Saturday night's winner-take-all matchup, but then again it's been a while since the Eagles have done anything formidable against the Cowboys too.

In the last eight quarters, the Eagles have managed just one touchdown against Dallas, that coming in the third quarter of their four-point loss on Nov. 8.

So what does it all mean for Saturday?

A whole lot of nothing. Given the Cowboys recent struggles in the playoffs (no wins since 1996- and yes I'm tired of hearing that too), the last thing this team can afford to do is take the dangerous Eagles lightly.

If Dallas is going to make it 3-0 Saturday night and win a playoff game for the first time in ages, the Cowboys are likely going to have to play their best game of the year to do it.

That means limiting the big plays of DeSean Jackson and Bryan Westbrook downfield while continually harassing Donovan McNabb on defense, and Tony Romo, Miles Austin and the Dallas running game making plays on offense.

All while not turning the ball over.

Simply put, no matter what's happened earlier this year, the Cowboys have to mentally approach this game with a mindset that Philadelphia is capable of winning and advancing in the playoffs.

Doing anything else could prove costly.

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