2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Cowboys, Bengals meet in pivotal game

By JOE KAY - AP Sports Writer
    2012-12-08 15:06

CINCINNATI (AP) - A lot of Andy Dalton's friends and family are flying in for a game that has big interest back in his home state.

``I guess being from Texas, everybody's excited about this one,'' said the Bengals quarterback, who grew up in suburban Houston.

They're headed this way for a pivotal game that was overshadowed for the Cowboys on Saturday. Defensive lineman Josh Brent was charged with intoxication manslaughter charge after a one-vehicle accident that killed teammate Jerry Brown in Irving, Texas.

The Cowboys (6-6) have gotten into the NFC wild card race by winning three of their last four games. The Bengals (7-5) have run off four straight wins to get in position for an AFC wild card and, perhaps, a division title. Neither can afford a loss at this stage.

``It's kind of a prelude to the playoffs,'' Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth said. ``Teams are going to turn it on and try their best to get into the (postseason) show, so you're going to get everybody's best every week.''

A sign of the game's importance: Paul Brown Stadium will be sold out for the first time in the last three home games. A lot of those fans will be cheering for the Cowboys, who have made it exciting lately by putting up a lot of points. Dallas has scored 38, 23, 38 and 38 points in the last four games.

The Cowboys are one of four teams in the NFC tied at 6-6, one game behind Seattle for the last wild-card spot. Like the Bengals, the Cowboys started 3-5 and have recovered by putting together their best stretch of the season. They're one game behind the New York Giants for the NFC East lead, tied with Washington for second place.

The Cowboys finish the season at Washington.

``When you think about the East, it's always been down to the wire,'' linebacker DeMarcus Ware said. ``It's always been close. It's a brutal NFC East, grind `em conference, division. It's going to come down to the wire.

``We just need to keep playing well, think about a game at a time and eventually hoping we get to the end.''

That's the same approach the Bengals have taken while digging out of their 3-5 start. One difference: Cincinnati's defense has been much better over that span. The Bengals have scored 31, 28, 34 and 20 points during their four wins while holding opponents to 13 points or less.

As a result, Cincinnati is tied with Pittsburgh for the final wild card spot, although the Steelers won their first game this season. Both trail Baltimore by two games in the AFC North with four to play. Cincinnati ends the season at Pittsburgh and home against the Ravens.

``We've got to take care of our business and let everything else fall into place, but I think there's a chance,'' Dalton said. ``Baltimore's in control of their destiny too. We'll see.''

The defense has given up only one touchdown in the last three games and leads the NFL with 39 sacks. End Carlos Dunlap was the AFC's defensive player of the week for getting five tackles, two sacks and forcing two fumbles in a 20-13 win at San Diego. Tackle Geno Atkins leads all NFL interior linemen with 9 1/2 sacks. End Michael Johnson has eight sacks.

``Everybody is getting to the quarterback,'' Dunlap said. ``This week fortunately it was me. We're all just working in tandem. I feel like that's starting to pick up this season. We didn't start out the season the way we've wanted, but we've gotten better each week.''

The Cowboys' biggest concern is stopping Cincinnati's running game. BenJarvus Green-Ellis has run for more than 100 yards in each of the last three, and will be trying to become the first Bengal to do it four games in a row since Paul Robinson in Cincinnati's inaugural season of 1968.

The Bengals signed Green-Ellis as a free agent from New England to replace Cedric Benson. The running game struggled in the first half of the season, but has finally found its stride.

``Physically the line is good up front, but he just has a good feel for running,'' Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. ``I think anybody who's followed his career when he was in New England, he just seemed to make a lot of yards. He's certainly doing that in Cincinnati.''

The Bengals have three links to the Cowboys, providing some interesting subplots. Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer was the coordinator in Dallas from 2000-06. Cornerback Terence Newman played there from 2003-11 before being released. Cornerback Adam ``Pacman'' Jones was traded to the Cowboys from Tennessee in 2008 and got waived in 2009.

Given the stakes, this one is more than personal.

``I want the game more because we need it,'' Jones said. ``I don't want Dallas to win any game. I'm not a Dallas fan. I'm not cheering for no one. That's just how it is.''

---

AP Sports Writer Schuyler Dixon in Irving, Texas, contributed to this report.

---

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Tim TebowApr 20 03:52p

Free-agent QB Tim Tebow (Patriots) officially signed a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles Monday, April 20. Financial terms were undisclosed.

Adrian WilsonApr 20 07:22a

Free-agent SS Adrian Wilson (Bears) is expected to retire Monday, April 20, and join the Arizona Cardinals coaching staff. The Cardinals, the team Wilson played for from 2001-2012, have announced a press conference.

Tim TebowApr 19 07:42p

Free-agent QB Tim Tebow (Patriots) is expected to sign a contract with the Philadelphia Eagles Monday, April 20.

Stefen WisniewskiApr 18 01:02p

Free-agent C Stefen Wisniewski (Raiders) signed a one-year deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars Saturday, April 18. Financial terms were undisclosed.

Ryan JensenApr 17 05:02p

Baltimore Ravens exclusive rights free-agent TE Phillip Supernaw, SS Brynden Trawick, CB Rashaan Melvin and OT Ryan Jensen re-signed with the team Friday, April 17. Terms of the contracts were not disclosed.

Adrian PetersonApr 17 12:42p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson said earlier this week that he's not sure if he'll participate in the team's offseason program. Minnesota is set to start their offseason workouts [ More ]

Adrian PetersonApr 16 03:02p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson will not receive any further suspension after he is reinstated from the commissioner's exempt list, according to a source.

Adrian PetersonApr 16 02:22p

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson has been informed that he will be reinstated from the commissioner exempt list starting Friday, April 17.

Sammy WatkinsApr 15 11:33p

Buffalo Bills WR Sammy Watkins (hip) is able to work out in some capacity during the team's offseason program, although head coach Rex Ryan indicated Wednesday, April 15, that [ More ]

Kai ForbathApr 15 10:53p

Washington Redskins restricted free-agent PK Kai Forbath posted on social media Wednesday, April 15, that he has re-signed with the team. The club has not yet confirmed the signing.

George JohnsonApr 15 08:33a

Detroit Lions DE George Johnson was acquired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Wednesday, April 15. Tampa signed Johnson to an offer sheet that was disputed by Detroit, but the [ More ]

Philip RiversApr 15 12:13a

San Diego Chargers QB Philip Rivers is under contract for one more season, and he has expressed a desire to play out his deal. However, the Chargers might be [ More ]

Josh GordyApr 14 06:03p

Free-agent CB Josh Gordy (Colts) signed a veteran minimum deal with the New York Giants Tuesday, April 14, according to a source.

Ricardo LocketteApr 14 05:23p

Seattle Seahawks WR Ricardo Lockette signed his exclusive-rights tender Tuesday, April 14.

Ike TaylorApr 14 09:32a

Free-agent CB Ike Taylor (Steelers) announced his retirement Tuesday, April 14.

Wade SmithApr 14 02:12a

Free-agent OG Wade Smith (Eagles) announced his retirement after 12 years in the National Football League.

Michael CrabtreeApr 14 01:13a

The Oakland Raiders are giving free-agent WR Michael Crabtree (49ers) a one-year, $3 million deal with another $2 million in incentives, a source said Monday, April 13.

Eben BrittonApr 14 01:03a

Free-agent OT Eben Britton (Bears) has been suspended four games by the NFL for an unspecified violation.

Matt ForteApr 13 08:02p

Chicago Bears RB Matt Forte was not present for the start of the offseason workouts Monday, April 13, according to sources. Forte is entering the final year of his [ More ]

Cody LatimerApr 13 08:02p

Denver Broncos WR Cody Latimer, who is expected to line up across from WR Demaryius Thomas in 2015, has been praised by WR Emmanuel Sanders, who figures to move [ More ]

Joe MaysApr 13 04:32p

Free-agent LB Joe Mays (Chiefs) signed an undisclosed deal with the New York Jets Monday, April 13.

Zackary BowmanApr 13 02:22p

Free-agent CB Zack Bowman (Giants) signed an undisclosed deal with the Miami Dolphins Monday, April 13.

Sean RichardsonApr 13 02:02p

Green Bay Packers restricted free-agent SS Sean Richardson will remain with the Packers after the team decided to match the one-year, $2.55 million offer he signed with the Oakland Raiders, according to a source.

Sean RichardsonApr 12 10:02a

Green Bay Packers restricted free-agent SS Sean Richardson signed an offer sheet with the Oakland Raiders, and the Packers have until Monday, April 13, to inform him if they [ More ]

Jason CampbellApr 12 07:02a

Free-agent QB Jason Campbell (Bengals) is considering retirement, according to sources close to the team. Campbell has rejected multiple opportunities to sign a contract for 2015, including offers from [ More ]

James CaseyApr 11 01:02p

Free-agent TE James Casey (Eagles) agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Denver Broncos Saturday, April 11. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Johnny ManzielApr 11 12:22p

Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel has been released from his rehab facility.

Victor ButlerApr 10 03:22p

New York Giants LB Victor Butler has been suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season for violating the NFL's policy on performance enhancing drugs.

Anthony SpencerApr 10 01:12p

Free-agent DE Anthony Spencer (Cowboys) signed a one-year deal with the New Orleans Saints Friday, April 10. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Charles TillmanApr 9 04:02p

Free-agent CB Charles Tillman (Bears) signed a one-year deal with the Carolina Panthers Thursday, April 9. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Rob HouslerApr 9 12:42p

Free-agent TE Rob Housler (Cardinals) has agreed to terms with the Cleveland Browns on a one-year deal, according to a source. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Le'Veon BellApr 9 09:52a

Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell was suspended three games and fined an additional game check after violating the league's substance abuse policy, according to league sources. He has appealed.

RSS Feeds

NFL News:
 
Player Notes:
 
Forum Posts:
 

© 2015 RealTime Fantasy Sports, Inc.
Email Us  ·  Call Us 636.447.1170  ·  Lost Password
Advertising represented by USA Today Sports Media Group