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DeMarcus Ware, Jay Ratliff miss half

TAMPA, Fla. -- A pair of Pro Bowl defenders didn't play a down in the second half for the Dallas Cowboys in Saturday night's 31-15 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

After the Cowboys jumped out to a 28-0 halftime lead, the decision was made to rest outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware and nose tackle Jay Ratliff.

Ware has been dealing with a stinger since the Dec. 4 loss to the Arizona Cardinals and was listed as questionable against Tampa Bay. He said he aggravated the injury on the second snap of the game, although he still recorded his 16th sack of the season.

Ratliff has been dealing with a strained rib cage since last week's loss to the New York Giants but did not miss any practice time this week.

The Cowboys, who are fighting for a playoff berth, wanted to make sure Ware and Ratliff would be as healthy as possible for the final two games of the regular season. Dallas faces the Philadelphia Eagles and Giants, two NFC East rivals that combined to score 71 points and gain 1,005 total yards in wins over the Cowboys this season.

"You know those two, they'll do everything they can to get well," defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said. "Hopefully, we'll get them there.

"We've got the two biggest games of the year coming up, teams that have beat us up pretty good. We'd like to fight them with a full deck, but whatever we've got to do, we're ready. We're excited. We want this challenge. These are the two we wanted, so here they come."

The Dallas defense dominated the Buccaneers in the first half with Ware and Ratliff on the field, allowing only 55 yards and one first down. Tampa Bay gained 145 yards, including a 12-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, while Ware and Ratliff stood on the sideline without their helmets and watched the second half.

Ratliff declined to comment, which is not unusual for the three-time Pro Bowler. Ware said the team's medical staff made the decision for him to sit out the second half, but he felt he could have played if the score was close.

"I'm not really worried about staying on the field," said Ware, who has played in the last five Pro Bowls. "I can play through anything, but sometimes you just need a little rest and we got that this week. I think everything will be fine."

Rookie right tackle Tyron Smith, the Cowboys' first-round pick, suffered a stinger on the final possession of the game but indicated that it was not a concern.

Tim MacMahon covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.