DALLAS (BVM) – The Dallas Cowboys got their first road playoff win since 1993 on Monday Night Football against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a 31-14 wild-card win. It was a dominant win in which Dallas never gave the Buccaneers or Tom Brady a chance to even make it a competitive game. NFL Hall of Fame nominee and former Dallas Cowboys great Darren Woodson said on BVM Sports’ Simple Question that the way the Cowboys won showed him something that gives him hope moving forward in the playoffs.
“They had a swagger going into that game and confidence that I hadn’t seen in a while,” Woodson said. “If they get that confidence going, they can play with that swagger and that attitude, the tournament’s open, it’s wide open specifically in the NFC.”
“There’s three teams that I think can win it, that’d be Philly, San Francisco and the Cowboys.”
Woodson was on the last Dallas team that won a playoff game on the road when his Cowboys went into Candlestick Park and beat the San Francisco 49ers 30-20 in the NFC Championship. The reason it’s been so long since a Dallas road playoff win is the same reason they won on Monday: swagger, attitude and confidence.
“I think a lot of it has to do with, and just being honest, again having that attitude and that confidence of going into games knowing that you are the better team,” Woodson said.
Last week on “Simple Question,” Hall of Fame 49ers quarterback Steve Young said something similar when he said the Cowboys lack “grit.” It would appear Dallas got some of that back against Tampa Bay and it’ll need it when the team heads to San Francisco to play the 49ers in the latest addition of a long-standing and bitter rivalry.
“In the ’90s it was the game…the NFC Championship was the Super Bowl,” Woodson said about the three straight Dallas vs. San Francisco NFC Championship games from 1992-94.
This matchup isn’t in the NFC Championship and it won’t decide who wins the Super Bowl, but it certainly could decide who represents the NFC in the Super Bowl. San Francisco enters the weekend as many people’s favorite to make it to the Super Bowl and Dallas has a Super Bowl roster.
“Personnel wise they’re there, attitude wise they haven’t been, but they showed a little bit of that this past week,” Woodson said.
But is attitude enough? Woodson isn’t sure because the 49ers are not an ideal matchup for the Cowboys.
“The Cowboys don’t match up well with San Francisco,” Woodson said. “San Francisco wants to run the ball at you and I’ll just be honest with you, they want to run the ball at you and they play strong defense, they get after the passer. I think San Francisco wins this game.”
Dallas’ run defense has struggled. During the regular season, the Cowboys gave up 129.3 rushing yards per game to opposing offenses. They were able to hold Tampa Bay to just 61 rushing yards but the Buccaneers also had one of the worst running games in the league this year. Facing Christian McCaffrey and Elijah Mitchell in the San Francisco backfield will be completely different. Not to mention 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel, who, at times, is also used creatively in the run game.
However, the Cowboys still have ways to get the win at Levi’s Stadium. This Dallas secondary is arguably the best one rookie quarterback Brock Purdy will have seen since taking over as San Francisco’s starting quarterback. Woodson has praised the group recently from cornerback Trevon Diggs to Dallas’ three safeties: Malik Hooker, Donovan Wilson and Jayron Kearse.
Along with the secondary is the Cowboys’ pass rush. Micah Parsons, Dorance Armstrong Jr., DeMarcus Lawrence and Dante Fowler Jr. all have shown they can get to the quarterback. The potential of getting pressure on Purdy and then having the secondary that takes advantage of mistakes made due to that pressure is a dangerous combination for Purdy.
“San Fran can’t turn it over and make it a short field,” Woodson said. “I think San Fran is at its best when that defense is on the field and they make you have these long drives, they get after you and do those things. But they get a short field and the Cowboys get into the plus-20 then you get points on the board.”
No matter what, the newest installment of the Dallas vs. San Francisco rivalry is set to be another entertaining one. Young said the Cowboys lack “grit,” Woodson said they didn’t have swagger and attitude but got some of that back. It’s a start, but it might not be enough.
“I love my Cowboys,” Woodson said. “I hope my Cowboys win but they’re not built physically to withstand the pressure they’re going to have with that McCaffery running game, Deebo Samuel and if Brock Purdy takes care of the ball, it’s going to be hard to beat them.”