Dallas Cowboys punt returner Dwayne Harris has made major contributions since taking over that role from Dez Bryant on Nov. 4 against Atlanta. Heading into Sunday’s game against New Orleans, Harris has averaged 13.9 yards per return, including a 78-yarder for a touchdown against Philadelphia and three additional efforts of 20 or more yards against Cleveland (20), Atlanta (37) and Pittsburgh (39).
Harris always knew he would be a success once he got his chance. It was convincing the Cowboys that was the harder part. A sixth-round draft choice in 2011, Harris was released during his rookie season. He later was re-signed to the active roster from the practice squad. Harris played in seven games last season with 15 punt returns and eight kickoff returns and no real impact other than a 51-yard kickoff return against the Eagles on Dec. 24.
“Whatever they need me to do, I think I can be a great player for this team and in this league. The sky’s the limit,” Harris said Friday. “I’ve always got … that chip on your shoulder to go out there and play your best. I let my game speak for itself. The doubters, they’ll go away.”
Harris also has 15 receptions _ 15 more than last season _ and is coming off a four-catch, 46-yard performance in last week’s 27-24 overtime victory over Pittsburgh. Three of his four grabs against the Steelers came on second-half touchdown drives, including a pair of pivotal receptions on bubble screens: an 18-yarder on a second-and-23 play to extend one scoring drive, as well a 17-yarder in the Steelers’ red zone that set up a 3-yard touchdown run by DeMarco Murray.
“He’s really grown a lot as a player,” coach Jason Garrett said. “He’s made some splash plays. But you don’t want to be a flash player. You want to be a guy that’s a consistent player. I think he’s shown that over the last half of this season.”
Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is working with seven players who weren’t on the team to start the season, including five who signed after Thanksgiving. All seven played against the Steelers:
Cornerback Sterling Moore : 37 of 60 snaps against Pittsburgh, signed Dec. 1
Safety Eric Frampton : 29 of 60 snaps against Pittsburgh, signed Sept. 25 for special teams role
Cornerback Michael Coe : 10 of 60 snaps against Pittsburgh, signed Dec. 11
Defensive end Brian Schaefering : 10 of 60 snaps against Pittsburgh, signed Dec. 12
Nose tackle Robert Callaway : 6 of 60 snaps against Pittsburgh, signed to the roster Dec. 8 after Josh Brent charged with intoxication manslaughter
Linebacker Ernie Sims : 5 of 60 snaps against Pittsburgh, started but left early because of concussion, signed Oct. 24
Linebacker Brady Poppinga : 5 of 60 snaps against Pittsburgh, started in sub package, signed Nov. 26
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Monday that the Cowboys were unaware that inactive defensive lineman Josh Brent would attend Sunday’s game against the Steelers at Cowboys Stadium.
Teammates urged Brent, who had been scheduled to start against the Bengals, to attend, Garrett said.
Also Monday, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said Brent went home after he became aware he was being shown on television at Sunday’s game and perhaps becoming a distraction.
“The last thing he wants to do is be a distraction,” Jones said Monday on KRLD 105.3 FM “The Fan.” “He got word that he was showing up on television, and he made the decision that he was going to go home.”
Brent’s presence on the sideline became a topic of discussion among some fans and media during Sunday’s game. CBS analyst Boomer Esiason said it was a “disgrace” for the Cowboys to have him on the sideline during the game.
The team has taken to heart the words of Brown’s mother to support Brent.
“I think what happened is Josh had planned not to be there,” Jones said. “It was our understanding a few of his teammates who are on injured reserve had gone by to get him, to try to keep his spirits up, and obviously came to the game.”
Jones was asked if Brent will be on the sideline at the next game, Sunday when the Cowboys play host to the New Orleans Saints.
“Well, I don’t want to speculate,” Jones said. “Obviously, Josh is certainly aware of the situation. It’s certainly not an easy one.
"Everybody is mourning the loss of Jerry Brown and wants to honor and celebrate his life. Certainly Josh knows where that is, and the last thing he wants to be is a distraction. It’s something that Josh is going to have to endure for the rest of his life. We’ll just see how things go.”
RELATED: Cowboys will be more sensitive to public appearances by Josh Brent
Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said the team will continue to support Josh Brent but that it will be more sensitive to his public appearances with the team.
“It becomes a very sensitive topic to a lot of people when you are in a public place like the game, and there were no bad intentions other than to support Josh, a part of our football team,” Garrett said Monday at his press conference at Valley Ranch.
Brent’s presence on the sideline at Sunday’s game against Pittsburgh sparked some criticism on social media and among fans and observers. Namely, CBS analyst Boomer Esiason called it a “disgrace.”
Garrett said the Cowboys will think about how to deal with that situation next week.
“I thought Josh handled it beautifully,” Garrett said of the player’s visit to the sideline. “He came, and when he felt like there were some issues, he felt like the right thing to do was to leave. But we’re going to support him in every way that we can. We’ll also be sensitive to this kind of an issue.”
Garrett said he did not know Brent was going to be at the game, although he had talked to him on the phone the previous day. He said he learned that the players encouraged Brent to come to the game.
“That was a result of the wishes of Jerry Brown’s mom, who stood before us at the memorial on Tuesday and really encouraged everybody and almost made a plea to everybody to keep Josh in our family and keep him close and support him in every way that we can,” Garrett said. “And the players really took that upon themselves to say, ‘Hey, Josh, you need to be here at this game.’ That was something that they felt was really, really important. Encouraged him to do that. It turned into a little something that maybe a lot of people didn’t exactly expect.
“We’re trying to handle it day by day and work our way through it. We’ll have some more discussions about that going forward.”
Brent left in the third quarter when he learned that his presence on the sideline was causing a stir.
What a difference a year makes: The Dallas Cowboys blew five fourth-quarter leads last season. This season, they have had five fourth-quarter comebacks.
Dallas rallied again Sunday against the Steelers, down 24-17 in the fourth quarter. They scored a tying touchdown with 6:55 remaining in regulation and then won on a 21-yard Dan Bailey field goal only 39 seconds into overtime.
They also had fourth-quarter comebacks against the Panthers, Browns, Eagles and Cincinnati. And in the road game against the Eagles, the Cowboys were tied 17-17 going into the fourth quarter.
"We just put our heads down and go to work," Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo said. "At the end of the day, whether we are down three, whether we are tied, whether we are down 10, we are just going to battle and fight to get the job done. By no means has it been pretty over the last six or seven games, but I do know that our football knows it can compete and win late in football games. We believe we are going to go down and score or get a stop late."
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he stands behind today’s decision to have defensive tackle Josh Brent on the team’s sideline for the Pittsburgh game despite criticism from network television analysts and some Cowboys’ fans.
Jones said Brent, who is facing charges of intoxication manslaughter related to last week’s death of former teammate Jerry Brown, joined the Cowboys on the sideline for the team’s first home game since the Dec. 8 accident because that was the desire of Stacey Jackson, Brown’s mother. Jones said Jackson specifically asked team members to support Brent, Brown’s best friend and roommate, because the family loved him and urged the Cowboys to “give your brother love.”
“Our team and our players wanted him today on the sideline,” Jones said. “Jerry’s mother asked us directly as a group. She said, ‘Support him. Help him. He needs your help. Jerry wants that. I want that.’ His teammates asked him to come and be down there with them.”
The move triggered negative feedback from some Cowboys’ fans, who responded via Twitter and email once it was reported that Brent was on the team’s sideline. During Sunday’s telecast, CBS analyst Boomer Esiason called it “disgraceful” that Brent was standing with his teammates. During the network’s pregame show, Esiason said: “Football players are an example and Josh Brent is the worst of those examples.”
Jones said he realizes “there’s the other side of the coin” in regard to Brent’s situation but he stood by the team’s decision despite any criticism it generated. So did coach Jason Garrett, who said the move was “initiated by our players” and aimed at honoring Jackson’s wishes.
“She considers Josh a son and she loves him very much,” Garrett said. “We’re going to try and support him every way that we can.”
The Cowboys began Sunday’s game with a moment of silence for Brown as well as the victims of Friday’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
With today’s overtime win, the Dallas Cowboys are 8-6, giving the club its 37th season with a finish of .500-or-better.
Today’s win also gave Dallas wins in three straight games for the first time this season.
Today was the second time this season Dallas played in an overtime game, and it was the club’s second overtime win of the season, 19th in franchise history. Dallas owns a 19-13 overtime record and a 6-4 home overtime record.
The win also gave Dallas a 3-0 record this December, guaranteeing the club a winning record in the month for the first time since 2001 when the club went 3-2.
Miles Austin caught a team-high seven passes for a team-best 79 yards. His receptions total today gave him 273 for his career to pass Billy Joe DuPree (267) for 12th in team history.
Dan Bailey was true on both of his field goal tries tonight – 50 and 21 yards. His 21-yarder came with 13:41 remaining in the overtime period, giving Dallas the 27-24 win. Today was Bailey’s third game-winning kick of the season and the seventh of his career. His seven tie Rafael Septien for the most in team history.
Dez Bryant caught four passes for 59 yards and a touchdown today. He upped his career receptions total to 187 to break a tie with Lance Rentzel (183) for 22nd in franchise history.
Bryant’s touchdown catch today was his sixth consecutive game with a touchdown reception, the longest streak in his career, tied for the fourth-longest streak and tied for the second-highest streak figure in franchise history.
For the season, Bryant has a career-high 10 touchdown receptions. This season is the 16th time a Cowboys pass catcher reached double-digit touchdown receptions and Bryant is the ninth different Dallas Cowboy to accomplish the feat.
Brandon Carr improved his club-high interception total to three with his interception in overtime. Along with his pick last week, it was the first time in his career he had interceptions in consecutive games.
Sean Lissemore notched his first sack of the season today to give him 3.5 for his career.
Brady Poppinga has his first start as a Dallas Cowboy today as the club opened with five linebackers.
Tony Romo finished today’s game completing 30-of-42 passes (71.4%) for 341 yards, two touchdowns and a rating of 111.3. He upped his season passing attempts total to 568 to establish a single-season club record:
Single-Season Pass Attempts
Romo’s 30 completions today gave him 379 completions this season to extend his single-season club record:
Single-Season Pass Completions
Romo’s 341 yards today gave him 4,269 for the season, the fourth 4,000-yard season in his career, the fourth in team history and the second-most yards in a season in club books.
Single-Season Pass Yards
Romo’s 341 yards today also gave him 25,103 for his career, making him the 64th quarterback in NFL history to reach 25,000 career passing yards.
In reaching 25,103 career passing yards today, Romo passed Tommy Kramer (24,777), Bob Griese (25,092) and Ken O’Brien (25,094) for 62nd in all-time passing yards.
In reaching the 300-yard mark with 341 yards today, Romo improved his club record of 300-yard games to 39. Dallas now holds a 25-14 (.641) record when Romo hits 300-plus yards.
In topping 300 yards again today, Romo has eight 300-yard games this season. His eight tie his club record established in 2009:
300-yard games (season)
Romo’s two touchdown passes today gave him 54 career multiple-touchdown games to improve his club-high and allow him to place fifth in the NFL since becoming a starter in 2006:
Cowboys Career Multi-TD Games
NFL Multi-TD Games (since 2006)
|* indicates game in progress|
In completing 30-of-42 passes, Romo completed 71.4% of his passes – his 31st career game with a completion percentage of 70.0-or-more. Troy Aikman has the club high with 39. His 31 are fifth in the NFL since becoming a starter in 2006:
Total 70.0% Games (since 2006)
Romo’s 71.4 completion percentage today gave him eight games this season with a completion percentage at or above 70.0, second in a season in franchise history. Aikman has the club-high with eight in 1993.
Romo had a passer rating of 111.3 today. It was his 48th career game with a rating above 100.0 to improve a club record and rank fourth in the NFL since 2006:
Career 100.0 Rating Games (Cowboys)
100.0 Rating Games Since 2006
|* indicates game in progress|
In leading the Cowboys to an overtime win while trailing in the fourth quarter, today was Romo’s fifth come-from-behind win of the season and the 18th of his career – improving his franchise-high. Romo’s five this season are also a franchise-high. Tied for second with four each are: Roger Staubach (1979), Troy Aikman (1990), Drew Bledsoe (2005) and Romo (2011).
Marcus Spears had his first sack of the season today to give him 10.0 for his career.
Anthony Spencer had 1.5 sacks today to give him 10.0 sacks for the season to improve his single-season career-best. Along with DeMarcus Ware’s 11.5, this season is the first time since 2007 the Cowboys had two defenders top 10.0-or-more sacks – DeMarcus Ware (14.0) and Greg Ellis (12.5). This season is the fifth time in franchise history Dallas accomplished the feat – 1983 (Randy White and Anthony Dickerson), 1984 (Randy White and Jim Jeffcoat), 1985 (Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Jim Jeffcoat and Randy White) and 2007 (Ware and Ellis).
DeMarcus Ware’s half sack gave him 111.0 for his career and moved him into a tie with Randy White for second on the Cowboys all-time (unofficial) sack chart. Harvey Martin is at the top with 114.0
Jason Witten finished today’s game with five catches for 43 yards. For the season, Witten has 97 catches – the most in a season in his career, second-most in a season by a Dallas Cowboy and the fifth-most in a season by an NFL tight end.
Single-Season Receptions (Dallas Cowboys)
Single-Season Receptions (NFL TEs)
Witten’s 43 receiving yards today upped his career total to 8,832 and allowed him to pass Terance Mathis (8,809) and Terry Glenn (8,823) for 57th on the NFL’s all-time receiving yards chart.
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The Steelers came into this game with the top-ranked defense in the NFL. The Cowboys? Well, they had six of their original starters out of the lineup, plus their nickel cornerback, then lost yet another linebacker in the early stages of the game.
But as the old saying goes, the games aren’t played on paper. Instead, it was the Dallas defense that came up big, leading the team to a thrilling 27-24 overtime victory in front of 95,595 raucous fans.
Despite the glaring differences between their defensive units, Dallas’ patchwork side held their own throughout the contest, and when they needed it most, came up with three big sacks late in the fourth quarter. That was followed by a game-changing interception from Brandon Carr in the extra frame, which set up the winning field goal.
It was by no means easy. Twice the Steelers took the lead and three times the game was tied. But Dallas kept battling back.
Pittsburgh put up 388 total yards of offense and did not have a single penalty. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw for 339 yards on 24-of-40 passing with two touchdowns. His primary target was tight end Heath Miller, who totaled 92 yards on 7 catches, while wide receiver Mike Wallace had four catches for 95 yards.
But on the other side of the ball, the Cowboys were ready for the the mighty Steelers defense, racking up 415 total yards. Tony Romo was again outstanding, throwing for 341 yards on 30-of-42 passing with two touchdowns and no interceptions. He connected with nine different players, Miles Austin leading the way with seven catches for 79 yards while Dez Bryant and Jason Witten did what they do best, each scoring a touchdown.
Even DeMarco Murray got into the action, rushing for 81 yards on 14 carries with a score. By comparison, the Steelers only ran for 69 yards as a team.
The Texas sized Terrible Towels fittingly became Texas-Sized Tear Towels for approximately 15,000 visiting Pittsburgh Steeler fans.
ARLINGTON — Brandon Carr intercepted a pass from Ben Roethlisberger to set up Dan Bailey’s 21-yard field goal in overtime, and the Dallas Cowboys beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-24 on Sunday.
The Cowboys won a Bailey kick on the final play for the second straight week since practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown was killed in a one-car accident that led to manslaughter charges against teammate Josh Brent.
Carr intercepted Roethlisberger’s pass along the sideline and returned it 36 yards to the 1. Bailey’s kick came after Tony Romo took a 2-yard loss to put the kicker in better position.
It was a disappointing ending for tens of thousands of Terrible Towel-waving Pittsburgh fans at Cowboys Stadium.
The Cowboys (8-6) moved into a three-way tie for the NFC East lead with the New York Giants and Washington Redskins. The Steelers (7-7) lost for the fourth time in five games.
A CLOSER LOOK AT THE NFC EAST STANDINGS
There were a pair of early Sunday games that had big implications to the Cowboys’ playoff hopes. One worked out for Dallas while the other didn’t. Here’s an updated look at the NFC East standings after the Cowboys’ win this afternoon, the remaining games for the NFC East contenders and a pair of recaps of the Sunday NFC East action (reminder: The Philadelphia Eagles played on Thursday and lost to the Cincinnati Bengals).
NFC East Standings
t-1. Dallas Cowboys: 8-6
t-1. Washington Redskins: 8-6
t-1. New York Giants: 8-6
4. Philadelphia Eagles: 4-10
Dallas Cowboys: vs. New Orleans, @Washington
Washington Redskins: @Philadelphia, vs. Dallas
New York Giants: @Baltimore, vs. Philadelphia
Recap: Redskins 38, Browns 21
CLEVELAND — Robert Griffin III watched as the Redskins’ other rookie quarterback won again.
Rookie Kirk Cousins threw for 329 yards and two touchdowns filling in for an injured Griffin, leading Washington to its fifth straight win, 38-21 over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
Cousins connected with Leonard Hankerson for both TDs in his first career start and the Redskins (8-6) barely missed a beat without the talented and multi-dimensional RG3, who sat out with a sprained knee.
Last week, Cousins came off the bench after Griffin got hurt and rallied the Redskins to an overtime win. Cousins was behind center from the start of this one and delivered a performance that extended Washington’s longest winning streak since 2007 and moved the Redskins into a tie for first in the NFC East.
Rookie Trent Richardson had a pair of TD runs for the Browns (5-9).
Alfred Morris, a childhood rival of Richardson, had two touchdowns for the Redskins.
Wearing a burgundy warm-up suit instead of his No. 10 jersey, Griffin, who sustained a mild sprain in the fourth quarter last week against Baltimore, cheered from the sideline as Cousins kept the Redskins (8-6) moving toward a possible spot in the playoffs.
Cousins may not have RG3’s talent, but the fourth-round pick from Michigan State was efficient, accurate and only made one major mistake — an early interception to set up Cleveland’s first TD.
Cousins finished 26 of 37 as the Redskins improved to 5-0 since their bye. They’ll end the season with games against NFC East rivals Philadelphia and Dallas, teams they beat in consecutive weeks to start their streak.
Griffin’s playing status was in doubt all week before the Redskins surprisingly announced late Saturday night that Cousins would start. If the Browns thought they were getting a break, Cousins proved to be as challenging to stop as his more elusive and hyped teammate.
The Browns (5-9) had their winning streak stopped at three and faint playoff hopes snuffed out. Coach Pat Shurmur’s fate may have rested on the Browns winning out, but that won’t happen and his days in Cleveland could be dwindling quickly.
Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden struggled from the outset. He went 21 of 35 for 244 yards and two picks, both leading to Washington touchdowns.
Cousins’ second TD pass to Hankerson, a 2-yarder, gave the Redskins a 24-14 lead. As Cousins came to the sideline, Griffin gave him a fist bump and then sat on the bench with his backup, who for the past two weeks has shown he too can lead the Redskins to victory.
Washington went ahead 31-14 on Evan Royster’s 4-yard run.
Weeden came back with a 69-yard scoring strike to speedy rookie Travis Benjamin to pull the Browns within 10, but Cousins calmly took the Redskins down the field again with Morris scoring from eight to make 38-21.
The Redskins needed this win, and Cousins made sure they got it.
He shook off the early pick and showed exceptional play faking ability. With Griffin out and inactive, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan had to alter his game plan and Cousins ran it with precision.
Linebacker Rob Jackson’s interception of Weeden helped the Redskins take a 17-14 lead less than two minutes into the third quarter on Morris’ 3-yard TD run.
Jackson picked off Weeden and returned it to the 15. Three plays later, Morris pulled in for his eighth rushing TD, tying the team rookie record set by Skip Hicks in 199
Richardson’s second TD run gave the Browns a 14-10 lead with 1:11 left before halftime.
Cleveland’s offense had been in a funk for most of the second quarter before Weeden completed five passes to get the Browns to Washington’s 3. Richardson did the rest, busting over the left side for his 11th rushing TD. Earlier, he broke Hall of Famer Jim Brown’s 55-year-old team rookie record for rushing TDs.
Kai Forbath’s 44-yard field goal put the Redskins ahead 10-7. Forbath has started his career 15 of 15.
Cousins threw a 54-yard TD pass to Hankerson in the first quarter to tie it 7-7.
The Redskins gained just seven yards on their first four plays before Cousins, rolling right on the kind of play Shanahan has devised to maximize Griffin’s wondrous skills, hooked up with Hankerson.
Browns safety T.J. Ward intercepted Cousins, on a ball tipped by cornerback Sheldon Brown, to set up Richardson’s TD run in the first quarter. Ward returned the pick to Washington’s 6-yard line, where he was tackled by Cousins, who showed good form in preventing an easy TD.
On the next play, Richardson took a handoff to the left side, was stopped at about the 2 and kept his legs and the pile moving into the end zone.
Recap: Falcons 34, Giants 0
ATLANTA — The Atlanta Falcons sent a message to all the skeptics with a resounding victory over the defending Super Bowl champions.
Matt Ryan threw three touchdowns passes and the Falcons defense handed New York its first regular-season shutout since 1996, stifling the Giants 34-0 on Sunday.
Julio Jones caught a couple of scoring throws from Ryan, who broke his own franchise records for completions and passing yards in a season. Matty Ice finished 23 of 28 for 270 yards.
The Falcons (12-2), who have already clinched the NFC South, moved a step closer to locking up home-field advantage throughout the conference playoffs. One more win would ensure that any postseason contests before the Super Bowl are held at the Georgia Dome.
Eli Manning threw two interceptions for New York (8-6), which dropped into a first-place tie with Washington in the NFC South. Dallas had a chance to make it a three-way tie later in the day, hosting Pittsburgh.
The Giants also went 0-for-3 on fourth down and missed a short field goal.
Despite their lofty record, Atlanta has received plenty of criticism for winning ugly against inferior opponents. A 30-20 loss to last-place Carolina the previous week only seemed to reinforce the notion that the Falcons are headed for another short stay in the playoffs. They have yet to win a postseason game since Ryan took over as the quarterback in 2008, going 0-3.
But one thing the Falcons never seem to do anymore is lose two straight games. They extended the NFL’s longest active streak since consecutive defeats to 49 games, going back to the 2009 season.
For the Giants, it was a miserable performance when they desperately needed a win, at a time of year when they normally play some of their best football.
Manning threw his first pick on the second play of scrimmage, setting up a quick Atlanta touchdown. Coach Tom Coughlin made a curious call late in the first half, passing up another short field goal attempt when his team was almost 2 yards shy of the marker. Asante Samuel batted down a short pass intended for Victor Cruz, sending Atlanta to the locker room with a commanding 17-0 lead and all the momentum.
But even if the Giants had taken the field goal, it’s probably wouldn’t have made much difference.
The tone in this one was set right away.
When Manning attempted to hit Hakeem Nicks on a short pass to the right, Samuel stepped in to make the interception and return it to the Giants 16. From there, Michael Turner ran it four straight times, the last of those a 1-yard plunge that gave Atlanta a 7-0 lead less than 3 minutes into the game.
It was all Falcons after Lawrence Tynes missed a chip shot kick from 30 yards, ruining an impressive second possession by the Giants. Atlanta took it 80 yards from there, with Ryan going to Harry Douglas on a 37-yard gain for the big gainer. Then, on third-and-11 from the 12, Ryan went to his favorite target, Tony Gonzalez, in the end zone. The 16-year veteran leaped over safety Will Hill to haul in the high throw — and hopped up quickly for his customary dunk over the goalposts.
Early in the second half, the Falcons blew it open on Ryan’s 40-yard touchdown pass to Jones down the left sideline. Finally, after a drive that used up more than 9 minutes in the fourth quarter, Ryan went to Jones for a 3-yard TD.
The Giants turned it over one more time in the closing minutes, finishing off their first shutout in the regular season since a 24-0 defeat at Philadelphia on Dec. 1, 1996. The performance came just a week after they put up 52 points on the New Orleans Saints.
There was a moment of silence before the game honoring the Connecticut shooting victims, and the Giants also wore "SHES" decals on their helmets for Sandy Hills Elementary School.
ARLINGTON, Texas — The Cowboys extended their season-saving winning streak to three games with a dramatic, 27-24, victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in overtime on Sunday.
The Cowboys season continued their playoff hopes when Brandon Carr intercepted a Ben Roethlisberger pass and returned it 36 yards to set up the game-winning kick, of 21 yards by Dan Bailey.
When it was over, Miles Austin was pushing his coach, Jason Garrett and Jason Hatcher was hugging him. Emotions are high for the Cowboys with two games remaining in the regular season.
What it means?: The Cowboys are in a three-way tie for first place in the NFC East. However, the Cowboys own the tie-breaker over the New York Giants because they have a better division record. Washington is in first place because it owns the tie-breaker over the Cowboys thanks to their Thanksgiving Day victory.
Dez Bryant and the broken finger: Dez Bryant played with a broken left index finger. It was taped up and the tip of the finger was exposed. The Steelers played him tough with double coverage on some passing downs, even dropping a linebacker underneath his routes. Bryant finished with four catches for 55 yards.
The decision: Dwayne Harris caught a four yard pass at the 2:00 mark and after a measurement, coach Jason Garrett elected to punt from his own 21. It would have been a gutsy call late in the game, but it seems as if Garrett was trusting his defense to get him the ball and he didn’t want to put the defense at risk with defending the Steelers deep in their own territory. It ended up not costing the Cowboys anything because the Steelers punted. Garrett had another decision late in regulation, setting up for a 61-yard field goal for Bailey, but after a timeout, he elected to punt the ball eventually forcing overtime.
Cowboys honor victims and a teammate: The Cowboys held a moment of silence for deceased linebacker Jerry Brown and for the victims of Friday’s school shooting in Newton, Conn. The Cowboys had Brown’s jersey on their bench and a No. 53 decal on the back of their helmet. Nose tackle Josh Brent, who was charged with intoxication manslaughter, attended the game.
Who’s next?: If you thought it was loud with Steelers fans at Cowboys Stadium on Sunday, wait until you hear the New Orleans Saints fans who visit here next week. The Saints beat Tampa Bay, 41-0, on Sunday.
Pittsburgh returns to Arlington for the first time since it lost Super Bowl XLV in February 2011. This Steelers team doesn’t look nearly as formidable, however. They stand at 7-6 and while they have the top-ranked defense in the NFL they also have a suspect running game and a quarterback, Ben Roetlisberger, who is still trying to regain his form after recently missing three games because of shoulder and rib injuries. The Cowboys, who are also 7-6, are aiming to achieve their fifth victory in their last six games. Here is a look at how both teams match up:
When the Cowboys run
While he Cowboys still can’t depend on their ground attack to move the ball over the course of an entire game, tailback DeMarco Murray has helped give it some punch since he returned to action earlier this month. Murray, who has gained 136 yards in two games after coming back from a sprained left foot, has made an impact. But he will be presented with one of his toughest challenges yet. Pittsburgh’s defense, even though it’s been decimated by injuries, is conceding only 3.69 yards per carry—the fourth-lowest average in the NFL.
When the Cowboys pass
The fractured left index finger Dez Bryant suffered last Sunday could spell disaster for the Cowboys. Bryant, listed as questionable on the team’s official report, was enjoying the most productive stretch of his career, making 33 catches, amassing 525 receiving yards and scoring seven touchdowns in his last five games. Not having Bryant at full strength could be harmful to a passing offense and a quarterback, Tony Romo, that has depended on him. Romo and his receivers will have one of their toughest tests yet. The Steelers have yielded 169.2 passing yards per game – the lowest average in the NFL. They have also allowed 54.2 percent of the pass attempts against them to be completed.
When the Steelers run
Pittsburgh’s most productive back, Jonathan Dwyer, ranks 27th in the NFL in rushing yards. The Steelers have averaged only 98.6 yards on the ground this season. And their running game has accounted for only seven touchdowns – tied for the sixth-lowest total in the league. Yet the Steelers may be able to take advantage of Dallas’ run defense that has conceded 6.1 yards per carry in the last three games.
When the Steelers pass
Ben Roethlisberger is back. That’s the good news for Pittsburgh. The bad? The two-time Super Bowl winner wasn’t in top form last Sunday in the first game he played since suffering a sprained right shoulder and dislocated rib. In a 10-point loss to San Diego he completed only 52 percent of his pass attempts. That same day, a Cowboys defense that looked ragged in its previous two games stood strong against Andy Dalton, allowing only 206 passing yards and sacking him five times. Whether Dallas can deliver the same punishment to Roethlisberger could be the difference Sunday.
There are only four kickers who have made a higher percentage of their field-goal attempts than the Cowboys’ Dan Bailey. One of them is Pittsburgh’s Shaun Suisham, who has converted 25 of 26 tries. Suisham stands on the opposite side of the spectrum as the Steelers’ Antonio Brown, who has the lowest punt-return average in the NFL. The Cowboys, meanwhile, averted disaster last Sunday. And that’s a good thing for a team that has conceded a blocked punt, allowed a 108-yard kick return and has committed two turnovers on special teams this season.
The Cowboys will play their first game at home since the one-vehicle accident that killed practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown and led to nose tackle Josh Brent being charged with intoxication manslaughter. The team has been through quite an ordeal ever since and head coach Jason Garrett said the Cowboys were emotionally “spent” earlier this week. Whether Dallas can regain the energy needed to beat a team fighting for a playoff spot is uncertain. But the Cowboys managed to persevere last Sunday and they may find enough in themselves to be able to so again Sunday.
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Fort Worth Star-Telegram staff writer Ray Buck takes a look at the history of the Cowboys – from a great game to a singular moment to a memorable player – this is a reprint of his online-exclusive offering posted Friday, Mar. 21, 2008
In high school, Jerry Tubbs never lost a game.
In college, Jerry Tubbs never lost a game.
Playing for Bud Wilkinson at Oklahoma, Tubbs was a big-time inside linebacker on three undefeated teams (1954-56).
This came during Wilkinson’s historic 47-0 run (1953-57) — still an NCAA Division I record.
“I was in the middle of the streak. We went 31-0,” Tubbs said. “To be able to say you never lost a game in college…..well, that’s my greatest claim.
“I was one lucky guy.”
However, Tubbs’ luck quickly ran amok in the NFL.
He was taken by the Chicago Cardinals in the first round of the ’57 draft — 10th overall. Suddenly, he found himself on a perennial loser, playing out of position (outside — not inside), then eventually benched, then cut near the end of his second season.
Although he landed on his feet in San Francisco, where he quickly elevated his pro game, he concluded that it might be time to find a job in the real world.
It was after the ’59 season. He was about to turn 25.
“Coca-Cola had this job opening for a district manager in Arkansas,” said Tubbs, whose idle thoughts became real concerns of 49ers coach Red Hickey.
“Jerry, I’ve got to know,” Hickey told him. “We like you. We want you. But if you’re going to retire, then I’m going to put you on that ‘Dallas Cowboys’ expansion list.”
The color ran out of Jerry’s face.
“I knew an expansion team wasn’t going to win,” Tubbs said. “But I was being honest. I told Red Hickey, ‘Coach, I can’t really tell you what I’m going to do yet.’ And so, he put me on the list.”
As it turned out, Tubbs would spend the next 29 years in Dallas — as a player, then a player-coach, then a fulltime assistant.
Playing/working for Tom Landry would prove to be heaven on earth — but Tubbs had no idea of that in 1960.
He never lost a game in college. Now he would be joining an expansion team that wouldn’t win a game all season. The ’60 Cowboys ended up 0-11-1.
“It looked like we were never going to win a game,” Tubbs recalled.
The closest they came was a 31-31 tie at New York in the next-to-last game of that inaugural season.
Little Eddie LeBaron picked apart a championship-tested Giants defense and snapped the Dallas losing streak at 10. But the non-winning streak would grow to 12 with a season-ending loss at Detroit.
“But I have to tell you, it felt like we won the world championship — when we tied New York,” Tubbs said. “Of course, we didn’t hit the jackpot until the start of ’61.”
“The Jackpot” came Sept. 17, 1961, against a veteran Steelers team led the legendary Bobby Layne; Hall of Fame fullback John Henry Johnson, and a grizzled defense featuring future Cowboys coach Ernie Stautner.
On this day, the Cowboys would finally achieve a regular-season victory, but not without some smoke and mirrors.
They would need to score 10 points in the final 56 seconds.
They would need help from the most unlikely hero on the team: Rookie kicker Allen Green, who was playing in his first NFL game.
But it all came together for a Cotton Bowl crowd of 23,500.
The Star-Telegram reported in its Sept. 18, 1961, editions:
“Rookie Allen Green, a pressure-resistant Rebel from Mississippi, kicked a 27-yard field goal in the last second of the game to give the incredible Cowboys a 27-24 triumph over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Cotton Bowl Sunday.”
We’ve tried to track him down. No one seems to know where he went, and few remember from where he came.
Allen Green had a knack for game-winning field goals at Ole Miss, according to his 1962 Post Cereal football card. (Post Cereal, however, didn’t get the memo that Green would be out of the league after the ’61 season — never to return again.)
Read the cereal card: “Al’s three-pointer in the last seconds of the 1958 season gave Ole Miss a 10-7 victory over Arkansas and his 41-yarder in the final seconds gained a 6-6 tie with LSU…..a specialist on last-second victories.”
Actually, Green’s right foot accounted for half of the 4-9-1 Cowboys’ four victories in 1961. (Another game-winner came in the final minute at New York 17-16.)
However, Green made only 5 of 15 field-goal attempts while averaging 37.3 yards on 60 punts. It wasn’t enough to keep his job in Dallas — or find another one in the NFL.
“But that was a pretty big kick he had against Pittsburgh,” recalled Tubbs. “It got the monkey off our backs; that’s exactly what it did.”
Unlikely hero. Thrilling comeback. But there was much more to this first-ever victory in franchise history.
“The Cowboys looked like they were fighting a lost cause in the last six minutes,” according to the lone Star-Telegram game story on Sept. 18, 1961. “John Sample of the Steelers picked off a Don Meredith pass and raced 39 yards for a touchdown with 5:52 remaining.
The Steelers led 24-17.
Off the bench came LeBaron, who “started throwing his life-saving pitches,” according to the newspaper. The “stubby” LeBaron completed 5 of 8 passes for 75 yards — including a 17-yard touchdown strike to tight end Dick Bielski.
The game was tied 24-24 with 56 seconds left.
This is where Tubbs came in. His INT from the middle- linebacker position made Allen Green’s dramatics possible.
Wrote the Star-Telegram:
“No one dared dream the Cowboys would ever get the ball again. But linebacker Jerry Tubbs apparently wasn’t watching the clock. The old master, Bobby Layne…..erringly threw down the middle and Tubbs stole it on the Dallas 38.”
The Dallas offense was back on the field. LeBaron eventually hit Bill Howton, who scooted out of bounds to stop the clock.
In came Allen Who?
“Winning was such a good feeling that day,” Tubbs recalled. “And it felt good to have had a little bit of something to do with it.”
Wrote the Sept. 8, 1961, Star-Telegram: “The Cowboys failed to choke on their 56-second time limitation…..and sent the stunned Steelers reeling back to Pennsylvania.”
Tubbs can’t recall what Landry said or did after the win — or even whether he had a reaction.
“I don’t remember Tom being very animated at all,” he said.
Tubbs, who won All-America honors and finished fourth in the ’56 Heisman Trophy balloting (won by Paul Hornung), was rejuvenated enough by what Landry was doing with the upstart Cowboys to take a flyer on that Coca-Cola job.
Today, Jerry and his wife, Marlene, live in University Park. They recently celebrated 50 years of marriage.
Every morning, Jerry — a native Texan born in Breckenridge 73 years ago — gets up, eats breakfast and makes the one-hour drive to his ranch northeast of McKinney. There, he keeps close to 100 head of cattle.
Don’t tell anybody…..but Jerry is playing hurt right now. He recently cracked a vertebra in his lower back when caught between a pair of 1,500-pound bulls.
“One of ’em whipped around at full speed,” said Tubbs. “But it wasn’t the bull’s fault. It was mine.”Tubbs will forever be linked to Landry.
When Landry was fired, Tubbs was fired.
“I got a few calls from other teams (in 1989), but I wasn’t interested,” said Tubbs, who found what he missed most about football was “getting it right as a team” on Sunday afternoon.
And for that, he has plenty of good memories with the Cowboys: 20 consecutive winning seasons, five Super Bowl appearances, two Super Bowl wins.
But when Tom Landry never worked again in the NFL, Jerry Tubbs never worked again in the NFL. He would have it no other way.
COURTESY: RAY BUCK | Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Marcia Melton of the Star-Telegram library contributed to the research of this story.
Pittsburgh Steelers 24 at Dallas Cowboys 27
Weather: 66 degrees, relative humidity 55%, wind 11 mph
|Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1-0)||0||14||0||10||24|
|Dallas Cowboys (1-0-0)||7||3||7||10||27|
|1st||Cowboys||Frank Clarke 44 yard pass from Eddie LeBaron (Allen Green kick)||0||7|
|2nd||Steelers||John Henry Johnson 1 yard rush (Bobby Layne kick)||7||7|
|Steelers||Buddy Dial 44 yard pass from Bobby Layne (Bobby Layne kick)||14||7|
|Cowboys||Allen Green 15 yard field goal||14||10|
|3rd||Cowboys||Billy Howton 45 yard pass from Eddie LeBaron (Allen Green kick)||14||17|
|4th||Steelers||Lou Michaels 12 yard field goal||17||17|
|Steelers||Johnny Sample 39 yard interception return (Bobby Layne kick)||24||17|
|Cowboys||Dick Bielski 17 yard pass from Don Meredith (Allen Green kick)||24||24|
|Cowboys||Allen Green 27 yard field goal||24||27|
|Net pass yards||237||307|
Passing, Rushing, & Receiving
|John Henry Johnson||PIT||0||1||0||0||0||0||12||36||1||0||3||54||0||0|
Defense & Returns
|Def Interceptions||Fumbles||Kick Returns||Punt Returns|
|John Henry Johnson||PIT||0||0||0||0||1||11||11.0||0||0|
|Def Interceptions||Fumbles||Kick Returns||Punt Returns|
Kicking & Punting
|Bobby Joe Green||PIT||4||176||44.0||0|
The week before the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers played Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium, a columnist wrote how the local fans wouldn’t really have a rooting interest in the outcome of the game. That opinion was quickly squashed by the overwhelming majority.
For some, the No. 1 rival for players and fans were the Washington Redskins. Possibly, more recently, the Philadelphia Eagles. Or maybe the Giants. And for some, this is accurate.
But never forget the disdain by Cowboys fans for the Steelers. Keep in mind this works on both ends. For many Pittsburgh fans, their second-favorite team each week is whoever is playing the Cowboys.
So what’s the deal? Why the sports hatred between the Cowboys and Steelers? Seriously, how much animosity could two franchises have for one another when they’ve only played nine times since 1979? Heck, they’ve played twice since Aug. 31, 1997, at least before today’s kickoff. Twice in 15 years, three months, two weeks and a day.
Baltimore and Pittsburgh played twice in 15 days earlier this season. The Cowboys and Eagles played twice in seven days in January 2010.
The easy answer are the two Super Bowls the teams played in the 1970s, both close games ultimately lost by the Cowboys. Those outcomes have had long-term effects for both fan bases, even the teams themselves. For Pittsburgh, yes, those triumphs secured immorality, Team of the Decade status, a bevy of Pro Football Hall of Famers, but the fact the Cowboys were dubbed “America’s Team” right around the same time infuriates Steeler fans. To this day.
As for Dallas, for fans old enough to remember those games, no two losses in franchise history have been more painful. Roger Staubach himself has said on multiple occasions that those were far and away the two most disappointing defeats of his career.
This was about ego and pride on both sides, not to mention, both home bases, Western Pennsylvania and Texas are arguably the country’s most passionate football fans, be it high school, college or NFL.
The teams have met 30 times, with each winning 15. Of the eight NFL franchises the Cowboys have played at least 30 games against, they only have a losing record against one … the Cleveland Browns, at 13-17.
Let’s take a look back at 10 of the most memorable games of the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers rivalry:
Sept. 24, 1960 – Steelers 35, Cowboys 28
Coincidentally, the first opponent in the Dallas Cowboys franchise history was the Steelers. This was long before anyone cared about professional football in North Texas, never mind having built up any dislike of opposing teams. The announced attendance for the opener at the Cotton Bowl was 30,000, but that was the most generous of estimates.
Dallas almost pulled off a stunner, taking early leads of 14-0 and 21-7 behind veteran quarterback Eddie LeBaron, the “Little General” himself. Alas, four turnovers proved too much to overcome and Bobby Layne, who played at nearby Highland Park in high school, tossed four touchdowns to lead Pittsburgh to a 35-28 win.
After the inaugural Cowboys finished winless, at 0-11-1, once again the season’s opening opponent was the Steelers. This time around, however, Dallas emerged victorious, the first win in franchise history.
This game was a back-and-forth affair, again before a sparse crowd of 23,500 (another generous estimate), with Dallas scoring first on a 44-yard touchdown catch by Frank Clarke. Trailing 17-14 entering the fourth quarter, Pittsburgh scored 10 quick points before a late Cowboys comeback, culminated by a 27-yard Allen Green field goal in the final seconds.
Sept. 23, 1962 – Steelers 30, Cowboys 28
First off, guess the NFL schedule maker liked the idea of Pittsburgh visiting Dallas early in the season. While not the opener, it was Week 2.
This was undoubtedly one of the more bizarre games in the rivalry, with a would-be league record 99-yard touchdown pass from LeBaron to Clarke called back for a holding penalty on guard Andy Cvercko. Worse, a holding penalty in the end zone results in a safety, so thus, a nine-point swing.
Despite a furious comeback and two touchdowns by Don Perkins, the Cowboys fell short in the end.
|1||September 16||T||Washington Redskins||35||35|
|2||September 23||L||Pittsburgh Steelers||28||30|
|3||September 30||W||Los Angeles Rams||27||17|
|4||October 7||L||Cleveland Browns||10||19|
|5||October 14||W||Philadelphia Eagles||41||19|
|6||October 21||W||Pittsburgh Steelers||42||27|
|7||October 28||L||St. Louis Cardinals||24||28|
|8||November 4||W||Washington Redskins||38||10|
|9||November 11||L||New York Giants||10||41|
|10||November 18||L||Chicago Bears||33||34|
|11||November 25||L||Philadelphia Eagles||14||28|
|12||December 2||W||Cleveland Browns||45||21|
|13||December 9||L||St. Louis Cardinals||20||52|
|14||December 16||L||New York Giants||31||41|
Oct. 31, 1965 – Steelers 22, Cowboys 13
In many ways, one could make the case that this was the most instrumental game in franchise history. Yes, a nine-point loss, which dropped the Cowboys to 2-5. The game itself, at least in terms of what occurred on the field, isn’t significant or memorable in the least. The teams combined for just 10 points in the second half.
However, the events that took place after the game, in the bowels of Pitt Stadium on Halloween, would forever change a franchise. In addressing his team, Landry broke down and cried, telling the players how proud he was of them and that maybe he was the problem. He even told them he probably wouldn’t be returning in 1966.
To date, the Cowboys were 20-51-4 under Landry.
The team rallied around its coach, winning five-of-seven to finish the year before embarking on 20 consecutive winning seasons.
Oct. 30, 1966 – Cowboys 52, Steelers 21
By this point, Landry’s team was the talk of the league, having started the year 4-0-1 before a disappointing, but competitive loss at Cleveland the week previous.
Stunningly, at least when compared with the final score, the Cowboys didn’t score in the first quarter, and trailed 7-0 in front of nearly 60,000 at the Cotton Bowl. Yes, how the times and attendance quickly changed after Dallas starting winning.
An offensive explosion quickly followed, some 45 points in two quarters.
By the end, despite nine penalties and three turnovers, the Cowboys gained 425 yards to Pittsburgh’s 119.
Super Bowl X – Steelers 21, Cowboys 17
This is when the rivalry really started, despite the teams having played 17 times previous. Entering Super Bowl X at the Orange Bowl, Dallas had won the last seven of those games, although the majority were competitive.
The Steelers were the defending Super Bowl champs and without question the league’s best team, 12-2 in the regular season. This game is most-remembered for Lynn Swann’s then-Super Bowl record 161 receiving yards, a few of those catches endlessly replayed by NFL Films.
Dallas led entering the fourth quarter, but Pittsburgh scored 14 unanswered points before a late touchdown catch by Percy Howard closed the gap. That would prove the lone reception of Howard’s career.
In terms of the most painful losses in franchise history, this ranks first, although some old-school fans may throw the back-to-back defeats to the Green Bay Packers in the NFL Championship Games in 1966 and 1967 into the debate.
Many of the players, coaches and fans felt this could have been the best of Landry’s teams, winners of eight straight entering Super Bowl XIII, including a 28-0 dismantling of the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC title game.
This was one of those ultimate games, the kind which define an era, in this case, the Team of the Decade was clearly up for grabs. The pregame buildup included Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson famously saying Terry Bradshaw couldn’t spell cat if someone spotted him the “c” and the “a.”
The most recalled play, alas, is the Jackie Smith dropped touchdown in the third quarter with the iconic call of Verne Lundquist: “Third down and three, Dallas at the Pittsburgh 10. Roger back to throw, has a man open in the end zone … caught, touchdown … dropped. Dropped in the end zone. Jackie Smith, bless his heart, he’s got to be the sickest man in America.”
Sept. 13, 1982 – Steelers 36, Cowboys 28
While it wasn’t the last time Chuck Noll and Landry faced each other – they even appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated together in 1988 – this was the last matchup with the football world watching. The season opener, with one of the highest-rated Monday Night Football audiences of the decade tuned in. This was the height of popularity for the television show Dallas, so what better place than Texas Stadium to kick off the year for Howard Cosell and ABC.
This game was much like Super Bowl XIII, with both teams scoring a ton of points, and the Cowboys playing from behind after leading at halftime 14-13. Two fourth-quarter scoring passes from Danny White closed the gap, but Terry Bradshaw and Franco Harris were too much.
Super Bowl XXX – Cowboys 27, Steelers 17
For a young Sean Lee, who grew up right outside of Pittsburgh, this wasn’t the most enjoyable of experiences, with the Cowboys and Steelers becoming the first – and to date only – two teams to play each other in three Super Bowls. This time around, though, Dallas prevailed and in the process, became the first team to win three Lombardi Trophies in four years with Larry Brown earning MVP honors behind two interceptions.
“I grew up a pretty big Steelers fan, there’s really not much of an option growing up in Pittsburgh,” said Lee. “They played the Cowboys in Super Bowl XXX when I was in third grade. I was devastated when they lost. It was a crazy game with those two Larry Brown interceptions. I was almost in tears when the game ended.”
Aug. 31, 1997 – Cowboys 37, Steelers 7
The final season of Barry Switzer’s tenure started out in impressive fashion, the Cowboys dismantling Pittsburgh in every which way.
After a scoreless first quarter, Troy Aikman tossed four touchdowns, two to Michael Irvin, in the middle two quarters en route to a lopsided decision.
After a 3-1 start, the Cowboys fell apart and finished the season at 6-10.
This also marks the last time Dallas defeated Pittsburgh.
December 15, 2012 – Cowboys vs. Steelers – The rivalry continues
Dallas Cowboys vs. Pittsburgh Steelers …
December 15, 2012 – Cowboys Stadium – Arlington, Texas
Cowboys cornerback Morris Claiborne said he still needs to pass one concussion test to be able to play Sunday against the Steelers, and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said Claiborne got dizzy on Thursday.
“He got a little dizzy yesterday, so I’m not sure about his availability for this game,” Ryan said. “But I know he’s doing everything he can, and he’s got to pass these tests.”
Claiborne said he needs to pass an impact test, but that he’s prepared this week as if he will play. Claiborne did not practice Wednesday and was limited Thursday and Friday. The Cowboys listed him as questionable.
“Right now, I’m feeling pretty good,” he said. “It’s still a day-by-day process. It’s just all I can do right now, is take it day by day and see how I feel coming up on game time.”
The Cowboys signed veteran cornerback Michael Coe this week to cover themselves.
“We’ll be fine with him,” Ryan said of Coe. “He’s a good football player. He’s got a lot of talent. He’s a smart kid, so if he needs to play, he’ll play, and we’re excited about him. He’s got a lot of good talent.”
Ryan also praised another cornerback the Cowboys picked up two weeks ago off the New England practice squad, Sterling Moore, who came in against the Bengals when Claiborne went out.
“They let their guard down on him, and we slipped up and gobbled him up,” Ryan said. “He’s been an excellent football player. He’s playing all over the place for us. He’s playing inside. He’s playing outside. He’s playing safety. He’s a smart guy , but he’s a very talented kid and we really got something here with this guy.”
RELATED: Claiborne, Livings, Ware and Bryant questionable
Five Cowboys are listed as questionable for Sunday’s game on today’s injury report: cornerback Morris Claiborne (concussion), offensive guard Nate Livings (concussion), receiver Dez Bryant (finger), linebacker DeMarcus Ware (elbow) and safety Charlie Peprah (foot). Ware did not participate in Friday’s practice. The others were limited.
Among those listed are probable are center Ryan Cook (knee), running back DeMarco Murray (foot), running back Felix Jones (knee) and left tackle Tyron Smith (ankle). Jay Ratliff, who underwent surgery Thursday for a sports hernia, is out for Sunday’s game.
Tales of Dez Bryant‘s demise were premature.
Bryant will attempt to play in Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Dallas Cowboys receiver made the decision after gaining a second opinion Wednesday on the broken finger he suffered in a Week 14 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Bryant’s thinking doesn’t guarantee he will play, however. The Cowboys placed a hard splint on Bryant’s finger today. The Cowboys want to see if the splint will provide enough protection to prevent permanent damage. Bryant will require surgery after the season if he puts it off now.
"We don’t have a definitive plan for Dez right now," coach Jason Garrett told reporters. "He did see the doctor (Wednesday) and nothing’s really changed. We’re going to see how he feels today and see if there’s a chance that he can play. He went through the walk-through yesterday. He didn’t do anything in practice yesterday.
"It seems like he’s feeling fine, but we have to make a decision there as to what we want to do. Dez is certainly part of that decision. The medical analysis is part of that decision, as well."
Garrett said he doesn’t anticipate Bryant catching passes in Thursday’s session.
"We just have to decide what we want to do," Garrett said. "He certainly has a willingness to play and he certainly has the toughness to play. We just have to see if he can function as he needs do."
RELATED: Cowboys preparing for Dez Bryant to play Sunday vs. Steelers
IRVING – Cowboys coach Jason Garrett confirmed Thursday morning that Dez Bryant’s Wednesday visit with a second hand specialist revealed “pretty similar” information to the first examination. Bryant has a fractured left index finger that requires surgery.
But that doesn’t eliminate the Cowboys wide receiver from playing on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Bryant has said all week that he desires to play through the injury.
The Cowboys plan to test Bryant’s finger by having him catch passes, however, that has not occurred this week and Garrett said he doesn’t anticipate it occurring on Thursday. Although Bryant still has swelling in his finger he appeared to be prepared to catch passes during the media portion of Thursday’s practice. On his left hand, the 24-year-old was wearing a padded white glove that allowed the tip of his index finger to be exposed.
“We don’t have a definitive plan for Dez right now,” Garrett said Thursday. “He did see the doctor yesterday. Nothing has really changed. We’re going to see how he feels today and see if there’s a chance that he can play. He went through the walk-through yesterday. He didn’t do anything in practice yesterday. Seemed like he was feeling fine. But we have to make a decision there as to what we want to do. Dez is certainly a part of that decision. The medical analysis is part of that decision as well.”
The Cowboys training staff has been looking into splints and taping methods that would allow Bryant to play. The risk with delaying surgery and playing through the injury is that Bryant runs the risk of facing permanent stiffness, which would likely affect his ability to catch passes.
“We’re going to give him every chance to play,” Garrett said. “If it’s wait to Saturday [to catch passes] or wait to Sunday, we’ll give him every chance to do it.”
Bryant made a 27-yard touchdown grab after sustaining the injury in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 20-19 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. When it was suggested to Garrett that Bryant’s adrenaline probably allowed him to make that grab despite the injury, the Cowboys coach responded: “There will probably be a little adrenaline on Sunday.”
Garrett then smiled and walked away.
RELATED: Garrett does not anticipate Bryant catching passes today
Garrett told reporters at his daily press conference that he didn’t anticipate Bryant practicing or even catching the ball off on the side, as was expected by team sources earlier on Wednesday.
Bryant did jog out to practice Thursday with his left hand in a white glove that had a hole for his fractured left index finger to stick out. He didn’t have time to catch a pass during the media portion of practice.
After the morning press conference, Garrett said Bryant’s fractured left index finger still has too much swelling to risk catching passes.
“We’re going to have to do that at some point,” Garrett said of allowing Bryant to catch passes. “But I don’t think that day is today.”
Still, the goal to get Bryant ready to play Sunday against Pittsburgh appears unchanged. Bryant has seen two hand specialists this week and it’s believed that surgery to repair the finger in an option, but one that would end his season. However, not having surgery would increase the risk for long-term injury to his finger.
At this point, that appears a risk that Bryant is willing to take. However, if he doesn’t prove to the Cowboys this week that he can function, albeit wearing a splint, or padded gloves or fingers taped together, then the club will have no other choice but to rest him.
Obviously the Cowboys don’t want to risk further injury for Bryant, but his services are definitely needed. In the last five games, a span the Cowboys have gone 4-1, Bryant has caught seven touchdowns – all in the second half.
This past week, he went over 1,000 receiving yards for the first time in his career, and has a team-high 1,028 yards with nine touchdowns. His 75 receptions rank second only to Jason Witten (92).
Bryant also has a touchdown catch in the last five games, the third-longest streak in Cowboys history.
RELATED: Garrett confirms Dez Bryant plans to delay surgery
Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant plans to delay season-ending surgery on his fractured left index finger and try to play Sunday against the Steelers, even though it could possibly cause long-term damage.
Coach Jason Garrett said no definitive decision has been made on Bryant. But he said the Cowboys are going to give Bryant every chance to play.
Bryant has not caught passes this week and will not do so today, because the finger still is swollen. Garrett said Bryant will try to do so at some point, possibly even waiting until game day.
"We are going to give him every chance to play," Garrett said. "If that is wait til Saturday (to catch passes), then we will wait til Saturday. If it’s wait til Sunday, it’s wait til Sunday. We will give him every chance to do it."
Garrett indicated the Cowboys are confident Bryant might be able to go Sunday because he caught a 27-yard touchdown pass against the Bengals last week after fracturing the finger and having it taped together with the middle finger.
"He made a good catch after he was hurt the other day in the game," Garrett said.
Asked if that was because of the adrenaline of playing in the game and the lack of swelling at the time, Garrett responded with "it will probably be a little adrenaline in Sunday."
RELATED: Bryant wears white padded glove to start of Cowboys practice
Today brought the first glimpse of what the Dallas Cowboys might do to give Dez Bryant a chance to play.
He came out to practice wearing a white glove on his left hand.
Before practice, coach Jason Garrett talked about how the Cowboys and Bryant can protect the finger.
“We’re looking at that right now and seeing if there’s anything we can get started on,” Garrett said. “I know Jim Maurer and his crew have been working hard on that over the last couple of days. And again, I think it’s very specific to the player. You have to customize it to see how you can function. This has gone on in football for a long, long time. Does that feel comfortable? Do you think you can do this, that or the other thing with that? Let’s change it up, let’s make it bigger, let’s make it smaller.
“Certainly we want to protect Dez. We want to give him every chance we can if we put him out there.”
Bryant did not catch a pass in pat-and-go while reporters were present.
Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant wants to play Sunday with a fractured left index finger. If there is any way he can play, he will be in the lineup against the Steelers. Bryant is seeking a second opinion today, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said (Wednesday).
"We don’t anticipate Dez practicing today, and we’re just going to see where he is," Bryant said. "We’re going to get that information. One of the things that we know about Dez is that he’s a tough guy, and he loves playing football. He’s going to give himself and our team every chance possible to play in this ball game and continue to play this season. We just need to get more medical information about how to handle the situation right now, the best way to handle it for now and the future."
Bryant was injured on a 6-yard catch in the fourth quarter. He sat out five plays before returning and ended up catching a 27-yard touchdown after getting his index finger taped to his middle finger. After the game, Bryant’s finger was in a splint, and Bryant said it was a sprain. But X-rays showed a fracture, and Bryant will need surgery. Bryant hopes to delay the surgery until the off-season, but the Cowboys won’t risk damaging it further.
"I would say that [the risk of more harm] is an overriding question with all injuries and certainly the willingness of the player to play, the ability of the player to function like he needs to function are big questions as well," Garrett said. "But certainly his health now, his health going forward are huge factors in making this decision."
Bryant has 33 receptions for 525 receiving yards and seven touchdowns in the past five games. He has his first 1,000-yard season with 75 catches for 1,028 yards and nine touchdowns.