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ARLINGTON - Is there "pressure'' on Dak Prescott? "Pressure'' because the Dallas Cowboys "need to win'' the 3:30 p.m. Sunday NFL Playoffs game against the visiting San Francisco 49ers? "Pressure'' because of the position he plays? The profile he owns? The money he's paid?

Yeah. And Dak's answer to it all is ... "So what?''

"I don't know why people label the word 'pressure' as such a bad thing," Prescott said in preparation for today's game at AT&T Stadium. "I think it creates high expectations and high standards, and it usually creates high results.''

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"High results.'' That's the goal, of course, and all week long, both Prescott and coach Mike McCarthy have preached the same message, in public and inside The Star.

"Pressure,'' McCarthy likes to say, "is a privilege.''

That has not been lost on McCarthy's Dak-led Cowboys, who recognize that they haven't been in the playoffs since 2018, who recognize that being 12-5 in the regular season is "just the starting line'' (as, again, both Prescott and McCarthy have preached) and recognizing that this roster - assembled carefully and now generally healthy at just the right time - is capable of special things.

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Also not lost: Is how it all goes away in the event of a loss.

Prescott has played in just three postseason games. Is there a difference from the regular season?

"One thing you can't replicate is playoff football, especially at AT&T Stadium, having played two playoff games here," Prescott said. "You can feel the atmosphere in warmups, and really just from the time you show up at the game. You can feel it. It's something special. It'll be exciting to see Cowboys Nation show out and be a big part of this game."

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Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has stated that he thinks the crowd will exceed 100,000. And of course, CBS Sports (featuring Tony Romo) knows this will likely become one of the most highly watched TV shows of the year. How the Cowboys choose to look at those factors - as "pressure'' or "privilege'' or whatever - may help their mindset today and going forward ... assume Dallas, favored by just 3, does indeed go forward.

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In Dak's particular case, there is still his wiped-out 2020 season, the ankle injury and the surgery and the grueling rehab - all the more reason for him to embrace this day.

"I'd be lying if you don't look at a little more film, a little more games than the normal breakdown of four to five games," Prescott said. "Sometimes in a playoff game you want to see what they've done really well against other opponents that may not be in that breakdown.

"Just trying to get a feel how they're coming into this game against us."

The 49ers are coming in with a 10-7 record and a reputation (silly as it might be) for "Bully Ball.'' If Prescott has his way, the Cowboys will come in with an appreciation of a moment that must be seized ... because of how elusive these moments can be.

"It allows you not to take any moment for granted," Prescott said of his background. "It feels like a long time with everything that has happened in between – on the field, off the field, not making the playoffs, personal things, being taken away from the game to being able to get back here with such a great team.

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"Just knowing the opportunity we have in front of us. Not only the talent, but the brotherhood, the relationships, just the special bond we've got. That's going to be the factor that we take into this game that can carry us far."

And that's not just "pressure.'' It's also "privilege.''

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Source : https://www.si.com/nfl/cowboys/news/dallas-dak-prescott-playoffs-pressure-san-francisco-49ers-preview-odds

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