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Saturday's win, Giants' loss lift Cowboys back atop NFC East

Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys came out with a sense of urgency, as though they had something to accomplish.

They wound up having a great weekend that put them back in first place in the NFC East.

"We just can't let up," wide receiver Dez Bryant said. "We know where we want to go, and it don't matter who comes in here, we're going to keep the same intensity and just play hard and hopefully we can win out."

The Cowboys (8-6) reclaimed the division lead by one game over the New York Giants with two to play. One week after winning at Cowboys Stadium, the Giants (7-7) lost at home Sunday to the Washington Redskins, knowing the Cowboys already had won 31-15 at Tampa Bay the previous night.

"We really needed to get back on track," said Romo, who threw three touchdowns and ran for another Saturday.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett spoke Sunday about how his team practiced well and with purpose all last week, and then played that way against Tampa Bay. That, he said, means more than what the Giants did.

"It doesn't matter to us," Garrett said. "What we are focused on is our football team. Again, processing this game (against Tampa) and going forward is the challenge we have this week against Philadelphia."

The Cowboys can clinch the division by winning their last two regular-season games. They also can clinch by winning next weekend in their home finale against the Philadelphia Eagles if the Giants lose to the New York Jets. Dallas finishes the season on the road on New Year's Day against the Giants.

"We've got to get the wins. We've got to get in," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said after the game in Tampa Bay. "Best way to do it is win this thing."

While there is a clear-cut way to get to the playoffs, the Cowboys already have lost this season to both division foes, including a 34-7 defeat against the Eagles at the end of October and last week's heartbreaker to the Giants, in which Dallas blew a 12-point lead over the final 5½ minutes.

"It's a big win for us (because) we know about the December woes," Cowboys tight end Jason Witten said. "The only way to put that behind you is to get a big win."

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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