Victory provides a moment of relief
urday. 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.
“The last 24 hours has really been something I’ve never experienced,” Romo said. “It’s something I’ve never experienced, and I think a lot of guys will tell you that. It’s just been a roller coaster of emotions.
“It was a very — and still is — a very difficult thing that this football team is dealing with.”
The Cowboys scored on their last two drives against the Bengals (76), who had won four in a row and jumped into wild-card contention.
Romo threw a 27-yard touchdown pass to Dez Bryant with 6:35 to go. Anthony Spencer’s sack of Andy Dalton forced a punt, and Romo completed four passes on the drive to Bailey’s winning kick.
Romo finished 25 of 43 for 268 yards with a touchdown, an interception and three sacks. DeMarco Murray converted on third-and-5 to extend the final drive and ended up with 53 yards on 21 carries.
Newcomer Josh Brown kicked field goals of 25, 33, 25 and 52 yards for Cincinnati, which wasted an opportunity to move ahead of Pittsburgh for the second AFC wild card.
“They came here in an emotional situation, and you knew they were going to fight all the way,” Bengals offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth said. “That game meant a lot to them. They played great.”
Holder Brian Moorman congratulates Dan Bailey after his winning field goal.