With heavy hearts, the Cowboys took the field knowing football was only a diversion to the tragic events that occurred only a day earlier. The task at hand was both monumental and trivial. A loss was expected by virtually everyone.
But with perhaps something more to play for, the emotion-filled Cowboys pulled off a last-second, come-from-behind victory in Cincinnati, defeating the Bengals, 20-19.
Even from a purely football standpoint, this was going to be a tough game regardless. On the road against a surging Cincinnati squad, injuries having decimated the defense with no less than six key members of the defense sidelined.
Instead, Rob Ryan’s unit came up big when they needed to. They allowed only one touchdown on the day and when the team absolutely needed to stop its opposition, the defense forced the Bengals to punt on their final two possessions.
All in all, Cincinnati held the upper hand as far as total yards, posting 336 to the Cowboys’ 288. But Dallas had only one meaningless interception, kept the penalties manageable and narrowly took the time of possession, 30:11 to 29:49.
The Dallas defense held Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton to 206 yards off 20-of-33 passing with only one touchdown and one key interception. Four different players collected at least 40 yards receiving, but only one went for more than 20 yards.
With the middle of their defense decimated, the Cowboys struggled against the run, as Cincinnati rushed for 146 yards, Ben Jarvus Green-Ellis doing most of the damage with 89 yards on 12 carries.
Conversely, Dallas again wasn’t able to do much in the running game with DeMarco Murray topping the club with just 53 yard on 21 tries, although he came up big late in the game with two huge first-down gains, and he scored the team’s first touchdown.
Continuing his stellar play, Tony Romo threw for 268 yards on 25-of-43 plays, tossing one touchdown. Jason Witten, Dez Bryant and Miles Austin each had four catches while nine players overall hauled in a pass. Witten finished first with 62 total receiving yards while Bryant scored the lone touchdown grab.
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COWBOY FAMILY MOURNING: Josh Brent arrested for DWI, manslaughter; crash killed teammate Jerry Brown
Brent, 24, was identified as the driver in a car crash that killed Cowboys practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown, 25. Brent was arrested for driving while intoxicated after failing field sobriety tests. Once Irving police determined Brown had passed away, Brent was booked into Irving City jail on one count of intoxication manslaughter, according to a police report.
“We are deeply saddened by the news of this accident and the passing of Jerry Brown,” said owner Jerry Jones in a statement. “At this time, our hearts and prayers and deepest sympathies are with the members of Jerry’s family and all of those who knew him and loved him.”
Brent was responsive after the crash, but Brown wasn’t. Brown was transported to an area hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. An intoxication manslaughter charge is a second-degree felony.
The accident occurred at 2:21 a.m. going westbound on the service road of Highway 114. The vehicle was speeding when it hit the outside curb and flipped once before coming to rest in the middle of the service road, according to the report.
Irving police spokesperson John Argumaniz said Brent was attempting to pull Brown out of the vehicle, which had started to catch on fire, when police arrived and put out the flames.
“Our investigators are certain that they were traveling well above the posted speed limit," Argumaniz said. "They base that on the physical evidence out at the scene, gouge marks, skid marks, where the vehicle initially impacted the curb to where the vehicle came to rest.”
Brent and Brown both played college football at Illinois, where Brent had previously been arrested for driving under the influence in 2009. Brent, who was absent on the team charter Saturday, was in the midst of his best season in the NFL.
He started five games with nose tackle Jay Ratliff injured for much of the season. Brent would have been the likely starter Sunday against the Bengals with Ratliff out.
Brent compiled 22 tackles this season and forced a fumble on Eagles running back Bryce Brown last weekend that led to Morris Claiborne’s fumble return for a touchdown.
RELATED: Jerry Jones offers first public comments on Brown’s passing
Jones talked about remembering Brown, keeping Brown’s family in the team’s thoughts and wanting to play well in his honor.
Q: Jerry, you have been with your team every step of the way as every layer of this tragedy has unfolded. How would you describe the emotions right now of this team?
Jerry Jones: "Well for the last few hours our focus has been on Jerry Brown. Our team loved him. They certainly are conscious of him and want his family to know and have as much of them as they can give. At the same time, they know that one of the best things they can do for him and his memory is to come to the game today, is go out and play well."
Q: Jason Garrett told the team last night that this, football is not life and death, but there is a very important game to be played today. How do you focus the team? How did Jason put them in that direction?
Jones: "First of all we all know, but we remind ourselves that there is something more important than football, and this is life, and certainly the lost life of Jerry. On the other hand, they know the best way they can honor Jerry, because he was such a hard worker, so conscientious and enthusiastic about his career, the best thing they can do for him is go out and play the way he would have liked to have seen them play and a team that he would have wanted to be a part of."
Q: You know this team, how do you hope or think they will respond in light of this tragedy?
Jones: "Well first of all, I think that our team is grieving, and they know that. 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."
RELATED: ‘Devastated’ Josh Brent sends statement through his agent
With his teammates in Cincinnati, Josh Brent issued a statement Saturday night through his agent Peter Schaeffer regarding the tragic accident that took the life of teammate, former roommate and friend Jerry Brown:
"I am devastated and filled with grief. Filled with grief for the loss of my close friend and team mate, Jerry Brown. I am also grief-stricken for his family, friends and all who were blessed enough to have known him. I will live with this horrific and tragic loss every day for the rest of my life. My prayers are with his family, our teammates and his friends at this time."
RELATED: Remembering Jerry Brown; Perseverance led to chance in NFL
IRVING, Texas – Linebacker Jerry Brown was in the process of continuing his NFL dream when his life was cut short early Saturday morning in a car driven by Josh Brent, his former teammate at Illinois.
The 25-year-old had a long journey between his days at Illinois and his first taste of the NFL. After going undrafted in 2011, Brown went to the Canadian Football League and had two stops in the Arena Football League before joining the Indianapolis Colts at the beginning of this year.
He was active in one game for Indianapolis before getting released and going to the Colts practice squad. After his contract was terminated in Indianapolis, Brown joined the Cowboys’ practice squad in October in place of receiver Raymond Radway.
Before making his way to the NFL, Brown played for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the Canadian Football League and the Jacksonville Sharks and San Antonio Talons of the Arena Football League.
Brent, who was arrested for intoxicated manslaughter, was a familiar face for Brown in the Cowboys’ locker room going back to their days at Illinois.
Brown played mostly defensive end in college, playing in all 13 games at the position in 2007 and in 11 games in 2008.
Brown was named the Defensive Scout Team Player of The Year during his redshirt season in 2006 at Illinois. Six years later, he would be helping the Cowboys prepare for their opponents. The Missouri native celebrated his 25th birthday a month and a half ago on Oct. 20.
RELATED: Josh Brent released from jail after posting bail
Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent was charged Saturday with intoxication manslaughter connected to the death of Cowboys practice-squad linebacker Jerry Brown Jr., Irving, Texas, police confirmed to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport.
Irving police confirmed Brent was processed on the charge and released after posting his $50,000 bail Sunday. The second-degree felony is punishable by two to 20 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000. Irving police spokesman John Argumaniz said Brent is being held without bond.
Dallas Cowboys nose tackle Josh Brent faces an intoxicated manslaughter charge following a car crash which claimed the life of teammate Jerry Brown Jr. (Irving Police Department/)
According to a report released by Irving police, Brent was behind the wheel of a car at 2:21 a.m. when it hit a curb, causing the vehicle to flip at least once before coming to rest in the middle of a service road. When officers arrived on the scene, Brent was responsive and able to speak. Brown, 25, was unresponsive and transferred to a local hospital, where he later was pronounced dead.
Officers suspected alcohol played a role in the accident and had Brent perform field sobriety tests. Brent eventually was taken into custody. The charges were altered from driving while intoxicated to intoxicated manslaughter when police learned Brown had died as a result of injuries sustained in the accident.
A statement was released Saturday night on Brent’s behalf by his agent, Peter Schaffer:
"I am devastated and filled with grief. Filled with grief for the loss of my close friend and teammate, Jerry Brown," the statement read. "I am also grief-stricken for his family, friends and all who were blessed enough to have known him. I will live with this horrific and tragic loss every day for the rest of my life. My prayers are with his family, our teammates and his friends at this time."
Brent pleaded guilty to a DUI charge in 2009 after he was arrested for speeding while driving under the influence with a suspended license, according to Champaign County, Ill., court records obtained by The Associated Press.
"We are deeply saddened by the news of this accident and the passing of Jerry Brown. At this time, our hearts and prayers and deepest sympathies are with the members of Jerry’s family and all of those who knew him and loved him."
The NFL released the following statement:
"We have been in contact with the Cowboys and have deployed staff members and our independent professional counselors to assist the team in dealing with this tragedy. We are deeply saddened by the loss of Jerry Brown and extend our condolences to his family, friends, and the Cowboys organization."
Brown’s family released a statement Sunday, obtained by Fox Sports insider and NFL Network contributor Jay Glazer:
"The family of Jerry Brown Jr. wish to express our sincere appreciation for all of your prayers, phone calls, flowers, visits and other acts of kindness shown during the death of our son. We would also like to send our prayers out to Josh Brent and his family as well. With kindness and love, The Family of Jerry Brown Jr."
Brent and Brown were college teammates at Illinois and were living together in Dallas, a team source told Rapoport.
Brent is in his third season with the Cowboys. A promising nose tackle, he had been in line to start for injured veteran Jay Ratliff on Sunday.