- Calvin Watkins, ESPN Staff Writer
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CINCINNATI -- Considering what the Dallas Cowboys had to deal with Saturday, what they accomplished Sunday can be seen as a season-saving victory.
A practice squad player is gone. His teammate, a popular player in the locker room, is in jail and charged with manslaughter. The Cowboys were told about the tragic incident just before leaving for a game with playoff implications.
Dallas won somehow, beating the Cincinnati Bengals 20-19 on Sunday afternoon at a dreary Paul Brown Stadium. Dan Bailey's 40-yard field goal at the final gun won it for the Cowboys, who are still alive for a playoff berth with three games remaining in their season.
What it means: The Cowboys (7-6) have kept their playoff hopes alive and continue to buy in to what coach Jason Garrett is talking about, blocking out the noise surrounding the team and focusing on winning one game at a time.
For their fallen teammate: The Cowboys played this game for practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown. He was killed Saturday morning in a car crash involving teammate Josh Brent, who was charged with intoxication manslaughter after what Irving, Texas, police say was a drunken-driving accident. Brown's jersey was laid out on the bench during the game, and there was a moment of silence in Paul Brown Stadium. After the game, outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware carried Brown's jersey off the field.
Run of the season: Starting running back DeMarco Murray's 6-yard run on a third-and-5 from the Bengals' 30 gave the Cowboys a needed first down and kept a drive alive that would end on Bailey's field goal. Murray dove for the first-down marker, stretching the ball out. A review clearly showed he had the first down.
Injuries: The Cowboys lost cornerback Morris Claiborne to a facial laceration with 11:56 to play in the third quarter. Claiborne was down for several minutes before he walked off the field holding a towel to his chin area. He did not return. Anthony Spencer left the game briefly to get an IV. Ware (left arm), Nate Livings (undetermined), Ernie Sims (undetermined) and Dez Bryant (left hand) left briefly with injuries. But safety Gerald Sensabaugh played with what appeared to be a leg injury.
Tackle rotation: Doug Free started at right tackle, but he was in a rotation with Jermey Parnell for the game. Free was penalized for holding; Parnell was not flagged. It was an interesting move by the Cowboys, who seem to be admitting -- at least by their actions -- that Free's struggles are so serious he needs to either be benched or rotated. However, Free was the right tackle on the last two offensive possessions.
What's next? The Pittsburgh Steelers make their first visit to Cowboys Stadium, and you can bet there will be plenty of black and gold jerseys in the crowd.