Two of the many awful moments for the Cowboys defense on Sunday night came courtesy of the one player you don't expect to hurt the team.
DeMarcus Ware jumped offside on each of the last two drives, handing the Giants yards and wiping out a 15-yard loss on what turned out to be the drive that lost the game for Dallas. Those were the only moments that Ware, who missed a bunch of snaps because of a stinger, really registered during his third straight quiet game.
On Thanksgiving, Ware had just one tackle against the Dolphins. He had a sack in the Arizona game, but also picked up the aforementioned stinger and wasn't a factor when the defense needed to make a stop against a bad Cardinals offense.
Ware says that the stinger is no longer an issue, which is a good thing since the Cowboys can ill afford to go into battle without their best defensive player playing at the highest level. The style of defense that Rob Ryan is running has almost no chance of working without major contributions from Ware coming off the edge.
How much difference can one player make? You need only look to the Giants game to see how one player can lift up a bad overall unit.
Jason Pierre-Paul pressured Tony Romo into a safety, picked up another sack, forced a fumble and made a handful of other plays that saved the Giants points and yards simply by willing himself around the field. It's something he's done on an almost weekly basis this season as injuries and a general lack of talent have left the Giants without any other options on the playmaking front.
Ware's got a bit of that in his own history. In 2009, coming off two losses, Ware led the Cowboys into New Orleans to face the undefeated Saints and dominated. He had two sacks and two forced fumbles, all of which were key to what wound up being a 19-13 Cowboys victory that sent them on their way to a division title.
And he did all that despite being helped off the field with a neck injury the week before.
The Buccaneers are far from undefeated, but there's a lot of other similarities between the two situations. Ware needs to complete the circle by putting forth the same kind of performance and doing everything in his power to get the Cowboys moving forward again after two terrible losses.
Anything less is going to make it very hard for this season to end the way Ware and the Cowboys want it to end.
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