LANDOVER, Md. -- Rob Ryan knows it does him no good to muse about what could have been for the Dallas Cowboys' defense if not for all the injuries it suffered this season.
There is a fine line between excuses and reasons, and if Ryan, the Cowboys' defensive coordinator, complains too much about not having Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, Jay Ratliff, Kenyon Coleman, Barry Church and Orlando Scandrick play in a game together this season, he will look weak.
Maybe next year he will get the chance.
"I'd like to do that," Ryan said. "That'd be fun. It's disappointing. I think we were one of the top defenses in football but that changed a little bit obviously by the end. But these guys played hard. They gave us everything they had, but yet still there's a helluva football team over there that's banged up. I know with our offense and with Jason [Garrett] running this thing, we're right there, guys. Everybody can see it. We want another chance to do that, but, hey, we'll see what happens."
In Sunday's 28-18 loss to the Washington Redskins for the NFC East title at FedEx Field, the Cowboys just ran out of players.
The varsity was on the bench or at home. And the two biggest players on defense -- DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer -- were limited by injury to varying degrees.