Cowboys TE Jason Witten says the season can’t end like last year. (US Presswire)

Long before he was named to his eighth Pro Bowl or broke Tony Gonzalez’s single-season record for catches by a tight end or even suffered a lacerated spleen in the first preseason game, Jason Witten had a message.

At the start of training camp, Witten did his first interview of the season and told reporters this year “can’t be the same old story,” referring mostly to the way the Cowboys lost in the season finale to the Giants. The winner of the game went to the playoffs and the loser went home. The Giants ended up winning the Super Bowl.

The Cowboys find themselves in the same situation again -- in a showdown on the road, this time in Washington. The winner wins the NFC East and will host a playoff game next week. If the Cowboys lose, their season is over, and the Redskins would have an outside shot to get a wild-card spot with a loss.

“It’s hard to get in this situation and play for a division title," Witten said. "It’s a great opportunity for us. Hopefully, those past experiences have helped develop us, so we can be better in this situation. But it is, it’s a different experience. Obviously, different opponent, and it’s going to be a tough challenge. But it can’t be the same old story.” 

But Witten knows that can’t be the only approach to this game. He knows the Redskins on the other side of the field are hoping it will be the same ending for the Cowboys, who also lost to Philadelphia in 2008 in a win-or-go-home game.

“Griffin and that crew doesn’t care about our past experiences,” Witten said of the Redskins’ rookie quarterback. “Nor should they. This is about us going out there and taking control of the game and getting a win. That’s all we need to focus on.”

Romo ready for another challenge: Only two people have records assigned to their names. The head coach and the quarterback. Tony Romo has long understood that his overall perception is measured by games like the one he’s about to start Sunday night in Washington.

This is the fourth game the Cowboys have played in the last five years with either an NFC East title or a wild-card spot on the line. Romo is 1-2 in those games and hopes to even it up against the Redskins.

“As a competitor, as an athlete you love playing in these games,” Romo said. “You love playing in these situations. I wish you could play in them every week, but in a lot of ways every game kind of feels important to this level. As important as this game is, at this point it’s the most important of the season, but so was the game four weeks ago, three weeks ago, two weeks ago. We’ve been playing in a playoff game here for a while now. and we’re just going to put our head down and keep running.”

Romo has a chance to become the seventh player in NFL history to pass for 5,000 yards, needing 315 on Sunday. But there's only one place he wants to be.

“It’s all about getting to the playoffs and winning,” Romo said. “Nothing else matters right now. Nothing else ever really matters. We know what’s at stake.” 

RG3 not most dangerous?: According to one Cowboys defensive starter, the most dangerous player on the Redskins’ offense is not rookie QB Robert Griffin III. Although Griffin was just selected for the Pro Bowl and had a four-touchdown game to scorch the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, DE Marcus Spears said he’s more concerned with Redskins rookie RB Alfred Morris.

“RGIII is the phenom that everybody loves, but this running back has been killing people,” Spears said. “If you watch it from a football-game plan, as a player who’s going to play in the game standpoint, this running back is actually probably the most dangerous guy on the football team on offense.”

Morris ranks fourth in the NFL with 1,413 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns.

Sims progressing: After playing one snap last week because of lingering concussion symptoms, LB Ernie Sims has practiced the past two days and is anticipating playing again Sunday in Washington.

Sims suffered a concussion early in the Steelers game on Dec. 23, but practiced all week leading to the New Orleans game last Sunday. But Sims said it took only a play to get hit and experience dizziness.

This week, Sims is expected to undergo more contact-oriented tests. If he plays, Sims will likely start opposite Dan Connor in the middle. 

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