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|Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is plugging in players such as Marcus Spears (right) to cover the absence of nose tackle Jay Ratliff.|
“With the game on the line Sunday, what's left of the old guard made plays. Anthony Spencer beat two blockers to sack Ben Roethlisberger as the Steelers quarterback avoided Lissemore's pressure late in the fourth quarter. In the first quarter, Roethlisberger tried testing veteran cornerback Brandon Carr as if he was a rookie but watched two of his passes broken up. Roethlisberger went back to Carr in overtime and was beaten badly. Carr's interception on a pass to Mike Wallace clinched the game for the Cowboys, as the 36-yard return set up the game-winning field goal. "It came at the right time," Carr said of picking off Roethlisberger for the first time. "Ben is a big quarterback, he's a load to bring down. You saw him breaking tackles, extending plays. It's hard for a secondary to cover that long, but the guys are trying to get to him, and it's going to take an army to bring him down." The Cowboys' defense is a close group, from the line leading the way for Josh Brent to be embraced at Valley Ranch after being charged with intoxication manslaughter, to Carr mentoring rookie Morris Claiborne, to Ratliff texting Callaway about how to get better. This defense is not allowing anybody to steal its season away. "Rob, he's a unique guy, man," defensive end Jason Hatcher said. "You come in, he going to find a role for you within the system. I don't know those guys' names that just got here, but they played their butt off tonight. I'm happy to be on this team." The Cowboys are now in a three-way tie for first place in the NFC East, but the remaining two opponents can put up points. The New Orleans Saints, who visit Cowboys Stadium next Sunday, scored 41 points against Tampa Bay on Sunday. You think Drew Brees is a little ticked off that his season has gone awry? The regular-season finale is against the Washington Redskins. The division title, or quite possibly a wild-card berth, is on the line. And don't believe that the Cowboys didn't know about the New York Giants' struggles against the Atlanta Falcons. Garrett said he was aware of the division rival's loss but maintained a one-game-at-a-time mantra. The defense is buying into it because that's what's working. "We're banging away," Garrett said. "That's all we're doing."
Rob, he's a unique guy, man. You come in, he going to find a role for you within the system. I don't know those guys' names that just got here, but they played their butt off tonight.” -- Cowboys DE Jason Hatcher
on defensive coordinator Rob Ryan