Stretch run starts this week

The Cowboys don't have to wait anymore. They can finally start thinking about December and how they are going reverse their trend of coming up small when it matters the most.

The Cowboys beat the Raiders 24-7 on Thanksgiving Day, remain atop the NFC East with an 8-3 record and seem to be sitting pretty. But Dallas faces a daunting schedule to finish the season, starting Dec. 6 at the New York Giants. The Cowboys then play the Chargers, the Saints, the Redskins and the Eagles.

The Cowboys' history should not be overlooked also. They have not had a winning record in the month of December since 1996. They have also not won a playoff game since 1996.

The Cowboys are 5-8 in the month of December since Tony Romo took over at quarterback. He also has a reputation of not getting it done in big games.

And then there's the bitter memories of last year when the Cowboys opened the season with Super Bowl hopes only to finish by not even making the playoffs, thanks primarily to a 1-3 record December.

The Cowboys missed the playoffs by one game.

So they all know what's at stake and what's on the line over the next month.

"We have been forewarned by what happened to us last year," owner Jerry Jones said. "Let's learn by the events of the last few seasons and work on that. This sets us up. There shouldn't be anybody smug. There shouldn't be anybody feeling good about themselves. We need to sit down here and zero in on the playoffs."

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