- Jean-Jacques Taylor, ESPNDallas.com
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IRVING - It’s doubtful the players on this Dallas Cowboys team will ever have a more emotional victory than the one they experienced Sunday, when they rallied in the fourth quarter to beat the Bengals a day after practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown died in a one-car accident. Nose tackle Josh Brent, the driver, was arrested and charged with intoxication manslaughter .
They won because several players made game-changing plays and they dominated the fourth quarter led by their best players.
Each week, during the season, I rank my top 10 players on the roster based on their performances this season.
1. Anthony Spencer: Another sensational game by Spencer, who had a team-high 11 tackles and two sacks. His second sack ended Cincinnati’s last drive and gave Tony Romo and the offense an opportunity to win the game.
Last Week: 1
2. Tony Romo: When it mattered most, Romo played his best football. He was 11 of 15 for 128 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter as the Cowboys rallied past Cincinnati for a huge victory.
Last Week: 2
3. Dez Bryant: The Cowboys are praying his broken index finger doesn’t require surgery that would end his season. He surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his career with four catches for 50 yards against Cincinnati. Bryant has seven touchdowns in his last five games.
Last Week: 3
4. DeMarcus Ware: He’s playing through a troublesome shoulder injury that seemingly forces him to miss a few games each game. But his third-down sack in the fourth quarter helped start the Cowboys’ rally.
Last Week: 4
5. Jason Hatcher: Hatcher had a tackle for loss and a quarterback hit against Cincinnati, but his first-quarter sack was one of the game’s biggest plays because it limited the Bengals to a field goal and a 10-3 lead after the second possession.
Last Week: 5
6. DeMarco Murray: Murray’s 6-yard gain around right end on third-and-5 in the fourth quarter was a man’s run. He broke a tackle and used his hand to thrust himself forward for the last yard. The run meant Cincinnati wouldn’t get the ball back and Dan Bailey would have a manageable field goal attempt.
Last Week: NR
7. Jason Witten: DeMarco Murray might be more important to Witten than even Romo. When Murray starts, Witten has seven catches of 20 yards or more, including two against Cincinnati. He had just one in the six games Murray missed.
Last Week: 6
8. Brandon Carr: His second-quarter interception turned the game’s entire momentum. It snapped the defense out of its doldrums and provided some much-needed emotion.
Last Week: 7
9. Dan Bailey: Ask the players if Bailey is one of their most important players. He made the game-winner from 40 yards as time expired and there wasn’t a single player who doubted he would make the kick..
Last Week: 10
10. Gerald Sensabaugh: He played the second half with a hip injury that severely affected his ability to run, but he gutted it out because he knew the team didn’t really have a replacement for him. And he delivered a jarring hit that prevented a touchdown catch in second quarter.
Last Week: NR