For the second consecutive week, an NFL team has had to play a game on the day after a tragedy. For the second consecutive week, that team has found a way to win.
On Sunday, the Dallas Cowboys beat the Cincinnati Bengals 20-19 on the day after practice linebacker Jerry Brown was killed in a car accident that has nose tackle Josh Brent in custody on $500,000 bond on an intoxication manslaughter charge in Irving, Texas. Last week, the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Carolina Panthers 27-21 on the day after inside linebacker Jovan Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend before taking his own life in front of head coach Romeo Crennel and GM Scott Pioli at the team's headquarters.
Paul Brown Stadium observed a moment of silence before the game in honor of Brown, whose jersey sat upon the Dallas bench throughout the game.
"Well first of all, I think that our team is grieving, and they know that" owner Jerry Jones told the Fox pregame show (via the Dallas Morning News). "They also know that they can handle that better if they will go out and do their work and do it to the top of their abilities. So it is a way for them to respond and to some degree, I am sure that many of them are proud that they have this to do this afternoon."
To get the season-saving win, the Cowboys needed to dig deep in the fourth quarter.
Trailing 19-10 with less than 10 minutes to play, quarterback Tony Romo completed 6 of 8 attempts for 68 yards on an eight-play, 68-yard drive that ended when he connected with Dez Bryant for a 27-yard touchdown with 6:35 remaining in regulation. A sack by outside linebacker Anthony Spencer ended the Bengals' next possession, giving Romo & Co. the ball back down two with 3:44 to play.
Romo and running back DeMarco Murray would make key plays as the Cowboys moved into scoring position. Facing third-and-5 on their own 33-yard line, Romo hit tight end Jason Witten for 9 yards to move the chains. Following the two-minute warning, Murray converted a third-and-1 from the Bengals' 38 and two plays later, would convert a third-and-5 by stretching the ball across the line for another first down at the Bengals' 24 with just over a minute to play. Already in field-goal range, the Cowboys let the clock wind down to four seconds before calling upon Dan Bailey, who drilled a 40-yard field goal as time expired.
With a second consecutive win, and fourth wins in five games, the Cowboys improved to 7-6 and remain in the hunt for both the NFC East title and the wild-card race with back-to-back home games against the Pittsburgh Steelers and New Orleans Saints next.
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