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Garrett finished 15 of 26 for 311 yards and two touchdowns. There was a 45-yarder that he lobbed and Alvin Harper took care of the rest, and a 35-yarder to Irvin. Garrett also had a 68-yard pass to Smith, who under other circumstances would’ve been the star of the game. The NFL rushing king-to-be ran for 133 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries against a defense that hadn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher all season, plus led the team in receiving with six catches and 95 yards.

“I don’t think about it a lot, to be honest with you,” Garrett said. “But what I do think about is it was a very special day. It really was. I think probably more than anything else, it was a great reminder of the importance of team.”

Saints quarterback Drew Brees was a 15-year-old Cowboys fan growing up in Austin at the time. He remembers Garrett’s performance as “awesome.”

The memories weren’t exactly flowing in the Dallas locker room this week. Many guys were asking reporters for details.

“If you just do the math on it, they probably weren’t even in kindergarten, a lot of those guys,” Garrett said.

Coaches were so impressed by Garrett’s outing that they let him start again … in 1998.

No, Garrett the quarterback wasn’t a star. But he did go 6-3 as a starter, with his best performance in the game that also meant the most.

Now he’s the coach and the next game is always the most important. If he thinks he can improve the chances of winning Thursday by trotting out the old game film, or telling stories about his Thanksgiving surprise, then he’ll try it. And if he doesn’t think so, it’ll be up to the TV networks to break out the archive footage.

“I know he respects his accomplishments as a player and has a lot of memories, and who he is today is a reflection of that,” tight end Jason Witten said. “But he’s such in-the-now that I think he’d be so happy just to get that win and for us to keep going forward.”