Leave it to wide receiver Nate Burleson to cut through all the win-one-at-a-time political correctness and come straight to the heart of the matter.
Playing the Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium as the No. 1 game on Fox Sports is a special treat for the players, just as it is for the fans.
“I will be honest with you, it’s fun,” he said. “It’s the biggest stage there is. It’s kind of like being at a talent show and you got your mommy and daddy in the crowd smiling and you’re like, ‘Look mommy, look what I can do.’ It’s exciting.”
Burleson said being part of the spectacle can be double-edged.
“Jerry Jones (Cowboys owner) has done a great job. The glitz and glamour of that place makes it more than just a football game,” he said. “If you embrace the experience and know you might not be able to play in that type of atmosphere again, you will elevate your game. It’s made for a show. You put that type of money in a stadium, it’s made to give the fans a once in a lifetime experience.”
Burleson, who will be making his third trip to Cowboys Stadium, admits it took him a minute to adjust to the spectacle.
“The first time I was blown away by what was going on and it took me about a quarter to get a hold of myself,” he said. “You got dancers and you got cheerleaders and you got the the go-go girls up top – it’s like a party every minute of the game. You really have to separate yourself from that and go to work. It will be funny watching some of the young guys and see how they react.”
Coach Jim Schwartz has seemingly gone out of his way to convince his players that this was just another road game, and that a win counts the same Sunday as it does any other week. The players buy that, but only to a point.
“At the end of the day it would be just another victory, but playing on that stage, with everybody knowing who the Cowboys are and everybody learning who Detroit is becoming, us getting a win could elevate who we are in most people’s eyes,” Burleson said. “But we understand that it would be just another win on the road to where we want to go.”
–Of course the Lions defensive line knows Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo is playing with a cracked rib. Of course the linemen are champing at the bit after watching the Cowboys’ young offensive line botch snaps and assignments throughout last week’s game against Washington.
Of course putting extreme heat on Romo is a big part of their game plan for Sunday.
But that isn’t any different from any other Sunday, they said.
“Obviously he’s dealing with some pain when he gets hit repeatedly,” defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh said. “You still want to make him uncomfortable and attack him any way we can to affect his game and not allow him to be 100 percent.”
Suh, though, stopped short of echoing DeAngelo Hall and saying they were going after Romo’s ribs.
“Am I going to attack his ribs? No. That’s not my style,” Suh said. “I am going to attack him and hit him and disrupt him like I would any quarterback in any game.”
Romo, who cracked his rib and punctured a lung early in Week 2, has still found a way to lead the Cowboys to two straight wins. The Lions, though, are more focused exploiting a young offensive line that features two rookies and a second-year player.
“I think that’s something we can take advantage of,” Suh said. “But we will continue to play our game.”
The Lions also took note of how flustered Romo appeared to get with the botched snaps and missed assignments.
“When Romo’s hot, he’s hot, but if you can get him rattled, we’ve seen what he will do with that,” said Lions cornerback Chris Houston. “But once he gets into a routine he’s hard to stop. We have to get to him early. If we can get him rattled a little bit, get him hurting a little bit, we can definitely be in it.”
Still, Romo went from being vilified in Dallas for late-game interception against the Jets in Week 1 to being hailed for his courage in Week 3.
“It’s unbelievable,” Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “He took some hits, too. It wasn’t like he was clean all game. He’s an extremely tough guy, a real competitor. I have a ton of respect for him.”
Coach Jim Schwartz wasn’t ready to praise the opposing quarterback on Wednesday.
“The NFL is filled with guys like that,” he said. “It’s a 16-game schedule and every game is valued and players always want to answer the bell. We are just getting ready to play the Dallas Cowboys. He played last week and led his team to a win. We’re not going to worry about anything other than what their schemes are.”
Still, the Lions would like to force Romo into playing as chuck-and-duck football as possible.
“There isn’t going to be any FBI half-target on him,” Suh said. “But I am on his right side, as everybody wants to point out. I am coming at him from that side. If I accidentally hit (the fractured rib), so be it. It’s not my problem, not my issue to deal with. I just go for the ball because that’s the only thing that can hurt you.
“I am 307 pounds. I am pretty sure if I land on you with all my weight, you are going to feel it.”
22nd regular-season meeting. Cowboys lead series, 12-9. Tthe teams split a pair of playoff games, and the Cowboys have won five of the last six, including a 35-19 victory in Dallas last season.
The Lions have won just twice in nine games in Dallas. The Cowboys have the distinction of being the first team to play the Lions in the Pontiac Silverdome (a 36-10 win on Monday Night Football in 1975) and the last team to play the Lions at the Silverdome (15-10 Lions win in 2002).
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