Arizona at Dallas

Focal Point: Aikman vs. Plummer

Inside the Cardinals playbook

Cowboys fear Snake's bite

Playoffs no mirage in desert

Scouting report

Who were those Cowboys?

  Tuesday, Dec. 29 8:35pm ET
'Boys wary of cardiac Cards
Associated Press

IRVING, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys coach Chan Gailey, whose team beat the Arizona Cardinals twice during the regular season, knows the playoffs are a brand new game.

 Jake Plummer
The Cowboys know they must contain elusive Cardinals quarterback Jake Plummer.

"One team thinks it has the answer, and the other team thinks it finally has it figured out," Gailey said Monday. "There are different dynamics involved when you play a team three times."

Dallas routed the Cardinals 31-10 in the season opener behind two touchdown passes by Troy Aikman and 124 yards rushing by Emmitt Smith.

On Nov. 15 in Arizona, the Cowboys appeared on the way to doing it again, building a 28-0 lead before Jake Plummer rallied the Cardinals but fell short 35-28.

The teams meet for a third time on Saturday in Texas Stadium where the Cardinals have lost nine consecutive games.

Dallas won the NFC East with a 10-6 record and ended the season with a 23-7 victory over Washington.

Arizona earned a wild-card spot with a 9-7 record after its 16-13 win over San Diego on Chris Jacke's 52-yard field goal with the clock running out.

"We're sure the Cardinals will come in with a lot of confidence and feel they can win a close game at the end," Gailey said. "We feel that way, too."

Gailey said the Cowboys won't make any special preparations for the elusive Plummer, who recently signed a $29.4 million contract.

"Jake is dangerous when he gets out of the pocket," Gailey said. "He runs around and makes things happen. We have to keep containment, and we have to be smart about the way we do it. We just have to keep doing what got us here. We've been in a lot of must games this year and this is a must win. I'm just glad we have this game at home. "

Cornerback Deion Sanders went out with a toe injury in the second Arizona game, and the Dallas secondary was burned by Plummer for 314 yards and two touchdowns.

It took a controversial play by cornerback Kevin Smith on Rob Moore in the Dallas end zone with no time left to save the Cowboys. Smith aggressively battled Moore for the ball, and there was no flag from the officials. The Cardinals vigorously proclaimed interference should have been called.

Sanders tried to play in the next game but had to come out. He's missed five consecutive games and was listed as doubtful for the Cardinals game.

Gailey said while the Cowboys expected tight end David LaFleur to return after missing three games with a knee injury, Sanders is "in a much more doubtful category. "

Gailey gave the Cowboys players a day off Monday because of the Saturday game.

Oddsmakers installed the Cowboys as a five-point favorite.

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