ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys are riding a 10-game home winning streak as they get set to play five of their next seven games at AT&T Stadium.
Matthew Stafford is visiting his hometown team for the first time since joining the Los Angeles Rams — and becoming a Super Bowl champion.
More immediate concerns will be the focus Sunday.
“I got a bunch of buddies in town that I know still living in the area,” Stafford said. “My family still lives in the area, so they’ll be at the game, which will be fun. It’s always fun going back there, but once the ball’s snapped and we’re playing ball, it’s go out there and try to beat the Cowboys.”
Stafford won a state championship at Highland Park High School, which Cowboys owner Jerry Jones' grandson did twice more recently. He visited three times with Detroit, going 1-2, before getting traded to the Rams and winning a Super Bowl in his first season in 2021.
Now, the 35-year-old Stafford isn't too many years from his 20th high school reunion, trying to keep the Rams in the postseason conversation without plenty of the star power from their title run.
“I don’t know,” Stafford said when asked if it's much different this late in his career playing against the Cowboys, who won three Super Bowls in four seasons when he was a young fan. “Every time I go there, I feel like it’s a really unique challenge.”
While the Rams just lost twice on a three-game homestand, they haven't lost sight of the 49ers. San Francisco has lost two straight since the 42-10 blowout of Dallas.
The Cowboys are coming off their bye after holding on for a 20-17 win on the Rams' home field — against the Chargers. That followed a loss to the Niners that shocked everyone inside an organization trying to end a 28-year stretch without even a trip to the NFC championship game.
The home winning streak is the longest since an 11-game run in 1991-92 at Texas Stadium, almost two decades before Dallas' current retractable-roof stadium opened.
Back then, the Cowboys were on the verge of their dominant NFC run. This year's loss to the Niners raised plenty of doubt about whether Prescott and company can rejoin the elite.
“This is about us running our own race,” Prescott said. “Right now, we’re not looking at anybody else. We know what this league is about. We know how tough it is. We’re just going to run our own race and lock in on who we are.”
CAN HE KICK IT?
The Rams will be uncertain in the kicking game with the NFL debut of Lucas Havrisik, who was signed off Cleveland’s practice squad.
He replaces former Cowboys kicker Brett Maher, who missed two long field-goal attempts and an extra point in Los Angeles’ seven-point loss to Pittsburgh last weekend.
Maher’s six missed field goals were an NFL high so far this season. Maher lost his job in Dallas after missing four consecutive PATs in a wild-card win at Tampa Bay last season.
Havrisik played in college at Arizona after starring in high school in Norco, California, southeast of Los Angeles. Rookie punter Ethan Evans handles the Rams’ kickoffs.
REPLAY FOR COOKS
Cowboys receiver Brandin Cooks faces one of his four former teams for the second time this season. Dallas played New England in Week 4.
Cooks had his career high in yards receiving with the Rams in 2018, the season LA beat Dallas in the divisional round of the playoffs. He had eight total TDs in 2018-19.
“I’ve been able to play former teams — pretty much all of my former teams — in years past,” said Cooks, who was drafted in the first round by New Orleans nine years ago and was traded to the Cowboys by Houston. “I think now I’m so far removed.”
RUNNING BACK CAROUSEL
The Rams have four viable options at running back in the absence of injured Kyren Williams and Ronnie Rivers, but they might stick with Darrell Henderson and Royce Freeman for the second straight week.
The duo rushed for a combined 127 yards and a touchdown last week against Pittsburgh. It was the first action this season for both veterans.
Rookie Zach Evans and new signee Myles Gaskin could be available, but the identity of the person carrying the ball hasn’t made a major difference to LA's relatively effective ground game this season.
The Cowboys will honor franchise career sacks leader DeMarcus Ware by inducting him into the team's ring of honor at halftime. Ware was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame this past summer.
Ware had 117 of his 138 1/2 career sacks in nine years with the Cowboys before going to Denver and winning a Super Bowl after he was released in a cost-cutting move. Ware's 20 sacks were the most in a single season in franchise history since sacks became an official stat in 1982.
McVay will be coaching on minimal sleep in his first game as a father: His wife, Veronika, gave birth Tuesday to Jordan John McVay, the middle name chosen to honor McVay’s grandfather, the former Giants coach and 49ers executive. The new dad was back to work Wednesday.
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