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Jerry Jones To Sal Paolantonio: Cowboys Have Had This Game Circled Since Training Camp

ESPN's NFL Countdown has kicked off this Sunday's daily dose of football excess, and eyes are already starting to focus on the nighttime matchup. The Cowboys invade Licoln Financial Field to take on the Eagles, in a match up that has had it's fair share of building momentum.

The Eagles made all sorts of noise in the offseason, something that is normally reserved for NFC East teams Dallas and to a larger extent Washington. Once the season started though, the Eagles found themselves committing a comedy of errors. Their rough start amidst Super Bowl contending aspirations, is reminiscent of the fall Dallas had at the beginning of last year. The Eagles were able to shut down the ground game against Washington two weeks ago, but Washington had lost their left side of the line in the game and was being captained by Bad Rex Grossman.

Yesterday, ESPN's Sal Paolantonio caught up with Jerry Jones, and asked him about the division battle.

Paolantonio: [Jones'] team views this game as a significant opportunity to make a statement about who we are as a football team, and potentially a spring board to a big time season. [Dallas] team knows that."

What date would you set as the over/under for when this game became the focus of the organization? Could it be... I don't know... the day Jerry was live on local radio patting himself on the back for catching Nnamdi Asomugha, only to learn from the host he went to Philly instead? You think a guy as image conscious as Jerry Jones might want to exact a measure of revenge?

Soon after missing out on the free agent cornerback, Dallas had to watch their division rivals sign any and everybody; repeatedly putting them in the headlines and across television scrolls. The pomp and circumstance led defensive coordinator Rob Ryan to state the following back in August.

"I don't know if we win the all-hype team," Ryan said after Monday's second practice, when asked about the Cowboys' defensive end rotation. "That might have gone to someone else, but we're going to beat their ass when we play them."

When asked about those comments recently, Ryan backed off some, but reiterated that he more so speaks about the confidence he has in his players.

"I'm not around those guys, I don't live with those guys, I live with our guys. I know how special we can be and we're going to be. Right now, stats don't mean anything. We're first in the NFC in defense, but we want to be first in the NFL, so we've got a lot of work to do.

Our situational football has not been good and that's a constant work in progress, but we have the talent to be everything that everybody dreams about. We have that talent right here in Dallas.

The Eagles are coming off a bye week, and the Cowboys were fortunate to face a collapsing Rams team in preparation for this week's faceoff. With the release of Tashard Choice and activation of second-round pick Bruce Carter, the Cowboys will only be one-man short of a full 53 man roster to decide who will be active tonight. RB Felix Jones will miss the game with his high ankle sprain. The Eagles, with the return of Trent Cole and Jason Peters, will have their full compliment of players.

It's not a must-win, but is a crucial game for each of the combatants as they ready themselves for the season's stretch run. We're only hours away from watching these titans go at it.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.