‘I really like being the underdog’

In last year’s wild-card loss, Dallas fell behind 10-0 in the first quarter, being outgained 110-7 in yards in the opening frame. The Cowboys were down 23-7 entering the fourth quarter before a rally came up short on the infamous designed QB run that left Dallas without a last-second chance, losing 23-17. Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy referred to the loss Friday as a “sacred wound.”

“I really think we beat ourselves last year with the penalties, the offsides, things like that,” outside linebacker Micah Parsons said of the loss. “If you just play your game — the biggest misconception is that you have to go out there and be different, that you have to go out there and try to out-physical a team, that you want to play their game.

“Why play their game? Play your game. Let’s play Dallas football. That’s all we got to do.”

Despite another 12-5 regular season record, the Cowboys enter Sunday’s game in Santa Clara as the underdogs against a 13-4 Niners club that has won 11 consecutive games behind a menacing defense and the stellar play of rookie quarterback Brock Purdy down the stretch.

“We’re very comfortable in this position,” McCarthy said of being underdogs against San Francisco. “We’re clearly going there expecting to win. Make no bones about that.”

Parsons said being the playoff underdog provides motivation in the rematch.

“Honestly, I think you should feed into it, you should love that stuff,” he said. “When no one believes in you, that’s the best feeling; not when everyone believes in you and the Kool-Aid is up and everyone is smiling like, ‘They can’t lose. They’re too good.’ I don’t want that feeling because then it’s like, damn, what if I don’t win?

“When you’re already at the bottom, you can only go up. I really like being the underdog.”

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