Cowboys outside linebacker Anthony Spencer is the team's best player on defense, and he will be financially rewarded after the season.
The Cowboys were criticized by some for giving Spencer the franchise tag. He is being paid $8.8 million this season. He will cost the team more than $10 million if they can't reach a long-term agreement and franchise him again.
Spencer had only 21.5 sacks in his first five seasons. He already has a career-best 8.5 this season after getting two Sunday. He also had 11 tackles, including one for loss, and two quarterback hits.
The Cowboys were without seven defensive starters at one point in the game, including Spencer, who went in the locker room briefly for an IV. Inside linebackers Sean Lee and Bruce Carter, defensive end Kenyon Coleman and safety Barry Church are on injured reserve as is nickel back Orlando Scandrick.
They, of course, also didn't have nose tackle Josh Brent, who bonded out of an Irving jail on Sunday. Brent was the driver in a single-car wreck that killed practice squad player Jerry Brown.
“It was a big win for us,” Spencer said. “The emotions with the loss of Jerry, there’s really no way to put that into words. It’s just something that happened, something we’ve got to deal with, something we’ve got to respond to. He sat behind me every day in meetings. Just looking back and not seeing him, it’ll be a pure reminder every day.”
Spencer got emotional with his teammates during the Bengals' last drive, when the Cowboys were in desperate need of a stop.
"I was just letting them know that it was going to be hard,” Spencer said. “There’s nothing really easy in this game, and if we wanted it, we were going to have to work for it, and everybody responded.”
-- Charean Williams