By Jay Betsill
The Dallas Cowboys overcame a nine-point deficit in the closing minutes with Dan Bailey’s 40-yard field goal as time ran out which put them ahead 20-19 over the Cincinnati Bengals. A game that was drawn up as a meeting of two teams fighting for their playoff lives became more about real life when the news spread Saturday afternoon that Cowboys nose tackle Josh Brent had been arrested for intoxication manslaughter following the early morning car accident along Highway 114 in Irving that took the life of practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown.
“It’s a hard, hard situation we’re in. There’s no playbook for this sort of thing in life.” quarterback Tony Romo, who finished 25 of 43 for 268 yards with a touchdown, an interception and three sacks, said. “The last 24 hours has really been something I’ve never experienced. It’s something I’ve never experienced, and I think a lot of guys will tell you that. It’s just been a roller coaster of emotions.”
After everything the Cowboys organization dealt with off the field on Saturday, their victory at Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday may have saved their season. Dallas improved to 7-6 to stay in the playoff hunt in the NFC. Cincinnati, with former TCU quarterback Andy Dalton and former Cowboys corners Terence Newman and Adam “Pacman” Jones and defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer fell to 7-6.
“That win, it’s for Jerry, and it was for his family,” Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant said. “I felt like we couldn’t come back in with anything less. I think we went out there, and we fought. With the situation that we have going on, the best way that we can. We put that out there. We put everything out there.”
The Cowboys, out of respect to the tragedy, canceled their annual Christmas party that was scheduled for Monday at Cowboys Stadium. Instead the team planned on having a memorial service for Brown early this week. Details are still being worked out.
Next up for the Cowboys is a home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Pittsburgh is coming off a bad home loss at the hands of the San Diego Chargers. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed 22-of-42 passes for 285 yards and three touchdowns in his return from spraining his right shoulder and dislocating a rib in an overtime win against Kansas City in Week 10. Most of Roethlisberger’s numbers came after his team trailed by 24 points to the Chargers, who came into Heinz Field on a 1-7 skid.
“We didn’t play well at all,” Roethlisberger said. “I didn’t play well. I didn’t make enough plays to help us win.”
The Steelers offensive line struggled throughout the game as they only gained 69 yards on the ground, led by Jonathan Dwyer’s 32 yards on eight carries. As for the defense, they put little pressure on the Chargers’ Philip Rivers, who came into the game as the second-most sacked quarterback in the AFC.
This will be Pittsburgh’s first time to play the Cowboys in Arlington, but their second trip to Cowboys Stadium after falling 31-25 to the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV on February 6, 2011. Kick off is 3:25 p.m. with the game televised on CBS.