Sack-Happy Cowboys LB Ware ‘Pretty Amazing'

Even as DeMarcus Ware's NFL record-tying streak of 10 consecutive games with a sack was ending, the Cowboys linebacker was in the face of the quarterback and forcing a victory-clinching incompletion on fourth down.

"He plays 60 or 70 plays, 16 plays in a row rushes the passer ... last play of the game, he hits the quarterback," coach Wade Phillips said. "He's pretty amazing."

Before Ware played a game for Dallas as a rookie in 2005, former coach Bill Parcells was already comparing the first-round pick to another player he had coached, Hall of Fame linebacker Lawrence Taylor.

With his unique blend of strength, agility and quickness, Ware is now making quite a name for himself.

"He's brought back that combination of a rush linebacker and a drop linebacker in the 3-4 system. I think he's the epitome of what teams that play the 3-4 look for," said Derrick Brooks, Tampa Bay's 10-time Pro Bowler. "He's one of the bright young players in our league right now."

Ware's streak of 10 consecutive games with a sack ended Sunday, the longest since Simon Fletcher of Denver set that mark 15 years ago. But the Cowboys got a much-needed 13-9 victory over Tampa Bay after Jeff Garcia, with Ware pressing him in the closing seconds, couldn't complete a pass from the Dallas 18.

Winning the game was all that mattered to Ware, whose beastly on-field persona is far from what he is really like.

"The quarterback was hit a lot, just throw the ball to the ground and the sack is gone," Ware said. "So that's just a stat. When you're just getting pressure on the quarterback, getting turnovers and getting the offense back the ball, that's what you want."

Away from the game, Ware is constantly smiling, though soft-spoken and preferring to stay out of the spotlight -- a lullaby-singing father to his adopted infant daughter.

"On the field I'm so intense, just so focused," Ware said.

Ware leads the NFC with nine sacks, 1½ behind Miami's Joey Porter for the NFL lead. With one more, Ware will become only the fourth Dallas defender with three consecutive 10-sack seasons, and the first since Hall of Fame defensive tackle Randy White from 1983-85.

Strangely enough, Ware's 10 games in a row with a sack that tied the NFL record isn't the franchise record. Harvey Martin had sacks in 11 consecutive games from 1976-77 for the Cowboys, before the NFL recognized sacks as an official statistic.

The chance to start a new streak comes Sunday when the Cowboys play at the NFC East-leading and rival Giants. Ware has four sacks in seven career games against New York.

Ware did set a team record for linebackers with 14 sacks last season, the most by a Dallas defender since Jim Jeffcoat had 14 in 1986. Since being the 11th overall pick, Ware has 42½ sacks while starting all 56 of his NFL games, a Pro Bowl pick the last two seasons.

Tampa Bay's Jon Gruden coached Ware at the Senior Bowl and remembers saying, "We should draft that guy." But the Bucs needed a running back and instead took Carnell Williams with the fifth pick that year.

"He's just got tremendous effort. Forget about the sacks; the man is in on every play," Gruden said. "He's got an arsenal of moves. I just love the way he plays. He's got tremendous stamina."

Ware has 57 tackles this season and 14 quarterback pressures to go with his sacks. The 6-foot-4, 262-pound linebacker has all that despite the extra attention from opposing teams who keep up with where he is.

"Yeah, it's difficult because teams, they know exactly," he said. "They slide the line and chip a little bit, but at the end of the day you've got to find some way to win, you've got to find some way to get through those blocks and find some way to still get pressure."

Ware isn't complaining. He just keeps finding ways to do his job. Constant study helps him read offenses better, knowing what to expect by the formations.

"D-Ware is gifted," said Marcus Spears, the Cowboys' other first-round pick in '05. "A lot of what he doesn't do well, and I don't know what that is, probably is compensated because he's so fast, strong and big."

Sometimes too quick. Ware was called offsides three times against Tampa Bay and has had similar penalties the last two seasons. Ware concedes he may have been a tad early once, but he's not so sure about the other times.

"Check the film out," Ware said, with a smile.

A film that is also filled with some impressive quarterback-chasing highlights.


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