Distracted by death, Cowboys rally to win

  • A fan holds a sign for Dallas Cowboys player Jerry Brown who was killed in an automobile accident during the Cowboys' 20-19 win over Cincinnati Bengals on Dec. 9, 2012, in Cincinnati. (Associated Press)A fan holds a sign for Dallas Cowboys player Jerry Brown who was killed in an automobile accident during the Cowboys' 20-19 win over Cincinnati Bengals on Dec. 9, 2012, in Cincinnati. (Associated Press)
  • A news cameraman films the aftermath as a motorcyclist drives by the site of a single-vehicle accident involving Dallas Cowboys player Josh Brent on Dec. 8, 2012, in Irving, Texas. Brent is facing an intoxication manslaughter charge after the accident killed teammate Jerry Brown, a linebacker on the team's practice squad. (Associated Press)A news cameraman films the aftermath as a motorcyclist drives by the site of a single-vehicle accident involving Dallas Cowboys player Josh Brent on Dec. 8, 2012, in Irving, Texas. Brent is facing an intoxication manslaughter charge after the accident killed teammate Jerry Brown, a linebacker on the team's practice squad. (Associated Press)
  • Tire ruts are seen on the ground with skid marks as a news cameraman (rear) films the area at the site of a single-vehicle accident involving Dallas Cowboys player Josh Brent on Dec. 8, 2012, in Irving, Texas. Brent is facing an intoxication manslaughter charge after the accident killed teammate Jerry Brown, a linebacker on the team's practice squad. (Associated Press) Tire ruts are seen on the ground with skid marks as a news cameraman (rear) films the area at the site of a single-vehicle accident involving Dallas Cowboys player Josh Brent on Dec. 8, 2012, in Irving, Texas. Brent is facing an intoxication manslaughter charge after the accident killed teammate Jerry Brown, a linebacker on the team's practice squad. (Associated Press)
  • This photo provided by the Irving Police Department shows Dallas Cowboys' Josh Brent. Brent has been charged with intoxication manslaughter after he was speeding early Dec. 8, 2012, in Irving, Texas, and his vehicle hit a curb and flipped, resulting in the death of teammate Jerry Brown. (Associated Press/Irving Police Department)This photo provided by the Irving Police Department shows Dallas Cowboys' Josh Brent. Brent has been charged with intoxication manslaughter after he was speeding early Dec. 8, 2012, in Irving, Texas, and his vehicle hit a curb and flipped, resulting in the death of teammate Jerry Brown. (Associated Press/Irving Police Department)
  • Dallas Cowboys nose tackle Joshua Brent talks to the media after his release from the Irving City Jail after posting a $500,000 bond on Dec. 9, 2012. Brent is charged with intoxication manslaughter after a crash earlier that morning resulted in the death of his passenger, teammate Jerry Brown. (Associated Press/Dallas Morning News)Dallas Cowboys nose tackle Joshua Brent talks to the media after his release from the Irving City Jail after posting a $500,000 bond on Dec. 9, 2012. Brent is charged with intoxication manslaughter after a crash earlier that morning resulted in the death of his passenger, teammate Jerry Brown. (Associated Press/Dallas Morning News)
  • Dallas Cowboys players hang their heads prior to their game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Dec. 9, 2012, in Cincinnati, during a moment of silence for teammate Jerry Brown, who was killed in an automobile accident. (Associated Press)Dallas Cowboys players hang their heads prior to their game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Dec. 9, 2012, in Cincinnati, during a moment of silence for teammate Jerry Brown, who was killed in an automobile accident. (Associated Press)

CINCINNATI — Numb. Grieving. Distracted. The Cowboys were all those things on Sunday, dealing with the death of one teammate and the tribulations of another.

Winners, too, though they hardly felt like it.

Dan Bailey kicked a 40-yard field goal as time ran out, sending the Cowboys to a 20-19 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals that ended a tough afternoon with a little bit of relief and their playoff chances enhanced.

Didn’t last long, though. There will be a lot more emotional days ahead in Dallas.

“It’s a hard, hard situation we’re in,” quarterback Tony Romo said. “There’s no playbook for this sort of thing in life.”

The Cowboys overcame a nine-point deficit in the closing minutes behind Romo, who held his hand over his heart during a moment of silence to honor teammate Jerry Brown before the kickoff. The linebacker died in an auto accident early Saturday.

Defensive lineman Josh Brent, who was driving, was still jailed in Texas on Sunday, charged with intoxication manslaughter.

The Cowboys (7-6) learned about Brown’s death on their flight to Cincinnati on Saturday. Coach Jason Garrett told his team that the best way to honor him was to play well in a game with playoff implications for both teams.

One of the visitors’ metal lockers at Paul Brown Stadium had a strip of white athletic tape with “53 JERRY BROWN” attached to the top, a wooden stool inside sitting upside-down. Brown’s No. 53 jersey was on the sideline during the game — defensive tackle Jason Hatcher held it up after Bailey’s kick decided it.

It wasn’t much of a celebration by an emotionally spent team.

“I don’t remember crying this much other than maybe the day I was born,” defensive lineman Marcus Spears said. “With Josh’s situation and Jerry being gone, you felt it.”

Players couldn’t keep the tragedy out of their thoughts during the game, finding their minds wandering on the bench.

“I rarely let my emotions get the best of me,” fullback Lawrence Vickers said. “Today they did, but this was the place to do it.”

Owner Jerry Jones described his team as grieving when it took the field. It was the second consecutive week that an NFL team was playing a day after losing a teammate. Kansas City beat Carolina 27-21 one day after linebacker Jovan Belcher shot his girlfriend and then himself at the Chiefs’ practice complex.

When Bailey’s kick ended it, the Cowboys had a lot of thoughts racing through their heads.

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