Cowboys defense steps up against Panthers

Cowboys vs. Panthers

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CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 21: Brandon LaFell #11 of the Carolina Panthers dives for a touchdown against Brandon Carr #39 of the Dallas Cowboys during their game at Bank of America Stadium on October 21, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

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by GEORGE RIBA

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WFAA

Posted on October 22, 2012 at 6:34 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 5 at 8:33 AM

IRVING — From Morris Claiborne's interception in the second quarter, to an early sack by DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher, the Cowboys defense showed signs of life against the Panthers on Sunday.

"This week, to be able to close out the game with a win let us know that, okay, we can do it," said Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware. “Now with that, let that motivate us and go into the next game and play better."

"Every week, I just feel like we're adding another key that we need to get better, and it showed a little bit today," Cowboys linebacker Anthony Spencer added.

"All I know we're talking about is now," said Cowboys nose tackle Jay Ratliff. "This game is a win, and we are getting ready for next week."

Sunday was the first time this season that the entire front seven of the Cowboys defense was on the field at the same time. They certainly weren't perfect, but they did get the job done when it counted most.

"It was a good feeling having (Anthony) Spencer back, and Jay Ratliff, you know what kind of player he is, so, hopefully we'll continue to get better," said Cowboys defensive tackle Jason Hatcher. "I know we will."

Carolina certainly felt the presence of Spencer, who missed last week’s game against Baltimore. Spencer got his third sack of the season on the final drive, one of the plays that helped preserve the win.

"I don't like to judge myself," Spencer said. "I judge myself, but at the same time, I just go out there and try to make as many plays as possible. That's my key in every game. Just a lot of hits on the ball. Where ever the ball is, I try to be around it. As much as I can do that, that's all I really try to do."

"Coach (Nick) Saban used to say, the guy is hard to block and that's line one for a defensive player," said Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett. "You know, he's hard to block."

That may be why Spencer is leading the team with 12 quarterback pressures.

E-mail griba@wfaa.com

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