Cincinnati, OH – The Dallas Cowboys lost one of their own on Saturday, but persevered at Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday to keep their playoff hopes alive in the wake of Jerry Brown's death.
Facing a Cincinnati Bengals team riding a four-game winning streak, Dallas trailed by nine midway through the fourth quarter, then rallied to steal a 20-19 decision on Dan Bailey's 40-yard field goal as time expired.
Brown, a linebacker on the Cowboys' practice squad, was killed in a one-car accident with teammate Josh Price-Brent identified as the driver and subsequently arrested on intoxication manslaughter charges.
Price-Brent, who saw increased playing time with nose tackle Jay Ratliff nursing a groin injury, was in custody Sunday morning and is "grief-stricken" with the loss of his friend, per a statement released by his agent on Saturday night.
There was a moment of silence held for Brown before the game, which came down to the final seconds after Dez Bryant caught a 27-yard touchdown pass from Tony Romo with 6:35 remaining, cutting the Cowboys' deficit to 19-17.
Romo moved Dallas into field goal range in the final minute, and Bailey split the uprights for the Cowboys' fourth win in five games. Dallas (7-6) remains one game behind the NFC East-leading New York Giants with three to play.
"We obviously had a very difficult situation, a tragedy, happen to our football team. It's been really emotional for everybody," Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said. "All we asked our team was...to some how, some way, channel all the emotions they had into honoring Jerry in their performance."
The Bengals (7-6) outgained the Cowboys, 336-288, but only scored one touchdown on Andy Dalton's short toss to Andrew Hawkins.
Sixty-eight of Dallas' yards came on an 8-play march that ended in Bryant's touchdown catch off a deep post.
The Bengals called five straight pass plays on the ensuing drive, the last resulting in a sack on third down to force a punt. Dallas took over at its own 28-yard line and used up the final 3:44 behind the strength of three third- down conversions, the last a 6-yard run by DeMarco Murray that moved the ball to the Cincinnati 24-yard line with 24 seconds showing.
After a 2-yard run by Murray, the Cowboys called timeout with four ticks left, and Bailey gave the visitors something to smile about during a somber weekend.
"We needed to win," Romo said. "Our team continues to be mentally tough and staying in this thing. I'm proud of our guys."
Romo finished with 268 yards on 25-of-43 attempts, while his counterpart, Dalton, completed 20-of-33 passes for 206 yards. Each quarterback threw an interception.
Bailey put the Cowboys on the board with a 37-yard field goal 6:24 into the game after Romo threw an incomplete pass on 3rd-and-1.
It took Cincinnati less than two minutes to answer. BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Marvin Jones ran for 19 and 37 yards, respectively, to reach the red zone, and on the fifth play of the 70-yard march, Hawkins ran in motion, caught Dalton's shovel pass behind the line of scrimmage and sprinted to the right pylon for an 8-yard score.
A three-and-out and a poor punt set the Bengals up at the Dallas 47-yard line later in the opening quarter. The hosts moved the ball to the five, and a sack on third down brought out Josh Brown for a 25-yard field goal.
Brandon Carr forced a turnover early in the second quarter when he stepped in front of A.J. Green, picked off Dalton's pass and ran 37 yards to the Cincy 27. Romo and Jason Witten hooked up for a 25-yard gain on the next snap, and on 3rd-and-goal from the one, Murray leaped over the pile and broke the plane with the nose of the ball with 10:33 left in the half.
On the ensuing drive, Jermaine Gresham came down with a one-handed, 25-yard grab to set up Josh Brown's 33-yard kick and a 13-10 lead at halftime.
Much like the first half, the Bengals moved the ball effectively out of the break, though they only came away with three points on their first touch. An illegal touching penalty on Jones negated the rookie's touchdown catch, and Green dropped a slant pass on third down.
Josh Brown booted a 25-yard field goal with 9:26 on the clock, then added a 52-yarder 2 1/2 minutes later following another poor punt by Brian Moorman, who had three of 27 yards or less. Cowboys linebacker Ernie Sims was flagged for a critical personal foul penalty on third down to keep Cincinnati's drive alive before Cincinnati's fourth field goal.
"We had opportunities. We got down into the red zone several times and we had to kick field goals. If we make one more play, score one more touchdown it's a completely different game," Dalton said.
Bryant has scored seven touchdowns in the last five games ... Murray logged 53 yards on 21 carries. The Cowboys are 9-0 the last two years when the running back sees 18-plus carries ... The Cowboys' sideline was whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct on Cincinnati's first drive of the second half. Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was seen arguing with Bengals tackle Andre Smith 10 yards onto the field before the flag was thrown ... Green-Ellis ran 12 times for 89 yards, falling 11 yards shy of matching the Bengals' all- time record with four straight 100-yard running games ... The Bengals play at Philadelphia on Thursday, while Dallas hosts the Steelers next Sunday.