FRISCO, Texas— dak prescott he started to shake his head before the question was complete.

Tea Dallas Cowboys The quarterback knew where this was going. And he wasn’t buying it.

Mike McCarthy, coach for his job in Monday night’s wild card game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?

“It’s funny, in a way,” Prescott said Friday afternoon. “12 wins (seasons) in a row on you, tell me how long, and we’re talking about a guy’s job being in jeopardy? That just shows you, when you play for this organization, what comes with it.

“That’s why it’s important to create these walls around us. Create this safe place in our locker room. What matters are the men who go out and get between the lines and work all week for us to go out and win.

Cowboys will attempt Monday in Tampa to accomplish feats that have eluded the franchise. Dallas hasn’t won a road playoff game in 30 years, nor advanced to a conference championship game (much less a Super Bowl) in 27. Against the Bucs quarterback tom brady, Cowboys history remains important: Brady has faced the Cowboys seven times in his career. He has won all seven.

McCarthy, who won a Super Bowl as Green Bay Packers Head coach, he was hired by Dallas three years ago to change that.

However, he has tried to downplay outside distractions this week, reminding the Cowboys that they are playing the entire Buccaneers team and are responsible for what they do in their tenure, not the ghosts of the decades-old franchise. past.

To further underscore how far removed the Cowboys are from the futility they’re being asked to answer for, McCarthy polled his team this week. How many players were alive on January 1? 17, 1993 when the Cowboys beat the san francisco 49ers for their last postseason road win? There were eleven active players. Ten baby photos submitted for McCarthy’s presentation.

“We had the baby photos of 10 players and the dates they were born and we obviously recognized him,” McCarthy said. “And the reality is that we have no responsibility for what has happened here in the past, even since the San Francisco game.

“This is our opportunity. It’s about what’s in front of us.”

Several Cowboys players acknowledged this week: Playoff runs like this one will define their legacies. All-Pro linebacker micah parsons He said “this is where legends are made”. the wide receiver Cee Dee Lamb chimed in that “stars are born in the playoffs,” the true mark of players how “they perform in the elimination rounds.”

Players cited a new burst of energy around meetings and locker room, high anticipation for a game in which they are 2.5-point favorites but also face a seven-time Super Bowl champion known for his comebacks and promotions to the playoffs.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (left) isn't concerned about coach Mike McCarthy's job security ahead of Monday's playoff game against the Tampa Bay Bucs.  (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (left) isn’t concerned about coach Mike McCarthy’s job security ahead of Monday’s playoff game against the Tampa Bay Bucs. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)

“You’ve got to love playing right now,” Prescott said. “If you don’t, this league, this sport, this is not the place for you. So for me, it’s about embracing the moment. Stay within myself. It’s not time to do something new, create something new.

“Trust my teammates, trust the way I’ve prepared at all times, and go out there and stay in the moment.”

Expect Prescott to lean on his confidence to feature the use of his legs to extend plays, while Lamb’s playoff mantras include staying sensible even if the Bucs revert to their oft-used strategy of double-covering a No receiver. 1. Lamb will remind himself: the more defenders I get tipped off, the more my teammates will go head to head in one-on-one matchups.

The inside defensive linemen will try to disrupt Brady’s pocket before his quick 2.45-second release time, while the secondary members will go out of their way to over-communicate, wary of Brady trying to confuse their game diagnostics.

Each player will work to avoid the fate suffered last year: a wild card upset and an early departure home. Emotions are fresh, that 12-month-old disappointment is “what we built our team this year,” defensive end By Marcus Lawrence saying.

“You have to use that for energy, juice going into these playoffs,” Lawrence said. I’m not getting any younger. This is the time.”

But as the Cowboys consider their postseason goals and opportunities to shape their legacies, the players insist they aren’t focused on the implications of this game for McCarthy.

He has led the Cowboys’ most successful two-year regular season streak since the 1994-1995 seasons. Cowboys team owner and general manager Jerry Jones insists McCarthy has more than just playoff success to judge his third-year head coach.

Outside chatter will swirl. If the Cowboys lose alarmingly to the Buccaneers, Jones’ emotions will likely fuel further speculation. But Cowboys players won’t be tuned in. The responsibility to win, they believe, rests with them.

“We as players love Mike,” Lamb said. “We love playing for him and everything he has done for us to put us in the best position to win. You can see it in the way we played, and like you said, 12-5 in back-to-back years.

“I feel like the only way we can really repay him is to continue to win throughout the season. And let the rest take care of itself.”

Follow Yahoo Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @joriepstein

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