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Confident Cowboys seek more than NFC East title

One of an NFL team's primary goals entering a season is to win a division title, which ensures a postseason berth.

The Dallas Cowboys accomplished the goal Sunday with a 27-20 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, marking the third time in the past five seasons that the Cowboys have won the NFC East.

"It's important," Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett told reporters after the game, via the Cowboys' official website. "It's the first goal that you have, the first tangible goal that you have with your team is you want to win the division first and get in the playoffs. So, we accomplished that goal."

The Cowboys, however, aren't satisfied with just the division championship hats and T-shirts.

"Certainly, something we can be proud of," Garrett said. "But hopefully, it's just the start of something."

Garrett's underlying message of not getting comfortable resonated throughout the locker room after Sunday's win. Simply put, the divisional swag carries little meaning if the team doesn't accomplish its ultimate goal of playing in the Super Bowl.

"It don't matter until we get the big one," wide receiver Cole Beasley said, via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News. "The goals have been the same from the beginning. We don't start off the season talking about, 'We want to win the division.' That's already a given. Our goal is to hold the big one up at the end. Until we get that, our work isn't done."

Dallas' season didn't get off to a desired start, and the Cowboys sat on a 3-5 record midway through the season before turning it around with a five-game winning streak, which included a signature victory over the New Orleans Saints on prime-time TV in Week 13.

The rebound season, which has the Cowboys sitting on a 9-6 record, is largely attributed to a dominant defense, which ranks fourth in points allowed, fifth against the run, sixth in yards allowed and ninth against the pass.

Dallas' offense, which is anchored by running back Ezekiel Elliott, also took off in the second half with the improved play of quarterback Dak Prescott and acquisition of wide receiver Amari Cooper from the Oakland Raiders.

The current foundation has the team believing this time around as a division champion will be different from the past two times when the Cowboys experienced quick exits from the postseason.

"The guys are confident," guard Zack Martin told reporters in the locker room. "We talked about it after this win. I think guys know we're not done yet. We got something to prove in the playoffs. We won the division three of the last five years, haven't done much after that, so our guys are hungry to make a splash in the playoffs."

For a team that continued to prove doubters wrong in the second half of the regular season, it would be wrong to not believe the Cowboys have a legitimate opportunity to make noise in the postseason.

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