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The Good, Bad and Ugly of the Cowboys Win

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    NEWSLETTERS

    This was a weekend about a lot more than football.

    The death of Jerry Brown and the life-changing mistake Josh Brent made by driving drunk had everyone thinking about things far more significant than the final score of a football game. It will continue to be that way for a while longer because real life has stormed into the escape of sports.

    A game was played, though, and the Cowboys won it 20-19 with 10 points in the fourth quarter to erase a nine-point deficit. It's easy to write some sappy stuff about how they found some resolve they didn't know they had by going through such a tragedy, but we'll leave that for the individual players to say for themselves.

    What we'll say is that it was admirable to see them do their jobs so well with such an emotional maelstrom going on around them. Cornerback Brandon Carr went from funerals in Kansas City to the news of Brown's death, but played and played well. All the members of the team are commended for going to work and Jason Garrett deserves some praise for the team's ability to do that. 

    Garrett's teams have never been accused of finding a way to calmly do their job. They make panicky mistakes, commit terrible penalties, mismanage the clock, turn the ball over and often fail to realize the urgency of the situation until the moment has passed. They haven't been a resolute bunch, in other words. 

    But they were on Sunday under really difficult circumstances. Garrett had them ready to play at the start of the game and, perhaps more importantly, he had them ready to respond when they took a few punches from the Bengals. The defense kept the Bengals out of the end zone, the offense didn't lose their identity after struggling early and there were none of those crushing mistakes from previous games.

    The circumstances couldn't have been much worse and Garrett and the Cowboys couldn't have conducted themselves much better. 

    Here's the football good, bad and ugly from Sunday. 

    GOOD: DeMarco Murray's six-yard run on third-and-five to set up Dan Bailey's winning kick was exactly the kind of hard-nosed run that the team missed when he was out with an injured foot. It allowed the Cowboys to kick with no time left and showed that Murray's presence makes this a very different offense.

    BAD: The Cowboys couldn't deny it with Doug Free anymore. Jermey Parnell saw time at right tackle and that arrangement should continue since Free's made it abundantly clear that he's not capable of doing what's needed this season. 

    UGLY: Rob Ryan's defense did enough, but the coordinator's penalty for unsportsmanlike penalty couldn't have been any more self-destructive unless Ryan actually self-destructed on the sideline. 

    GOOD: Tony Romo and Dez Bryant in the fourth quarter. It feels like the Cowboys are on the cusp of the start of a serious run for these two players and it couldn't come at a better time. 

    GOOD: It's going to be really interesting to see what the Cowboys decide to do with Anthony Spencer after this season. The linebacker had two sacks, his second multi-sack game in the last three, and continued to do everything else as well as usual. If he keeps rushing the passer like this, there's a lot of money coming his way as a free agent from Dallas or somewhere else.