IRVING — Sunday night's game was the first in a long time where young players made significant contributions in a Cowboys victory.
“They've done a good job,” said Dallas head coach Jason Garrett. “The big thing for us as a coaching staff is to coach those guys and help them get better.”
Defensive end Kyle Wilber replaced an injured DeMarcus Ware and came up with a huge play — sacking Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III, creating a fumble, and recovering the ball.
“Our coach’s philosophy is, 'next man up,'” Wilber said. "Everybody is a starter on this defense. Stay ready so you don't have to get ready.”
His fumble recovery set up the team’s final touchdown of the night, securing the win.
Rookie running back Joseph Randle scored his first touchdown after replacing DeMarco Murray, while rookie center Travis Frederick helped create a line surge to virtually shove Randle into the end zone.
“We've got a close-knit group, and a lot of guys who don't get a lot of stage fright,” Randle said.
Wide receiver Terrance Williams caught his second touchdown this season and is averaging 17 yards per reception this year.
Then there is wide receiver Cole Beasley, who led the team in receiving yardage; and wide receiver and special teams player Dwayne Harris, who totaled 222 yards in kickoff and punt returns.
“You know I embrace this role,” Harris said. “Whatever I can do to help this team win. If it’s going out and making tackles on kickoffs, punts or return the ball on kickoffs or punt returns, that's what I’ll do,
Harris, with his spectacular returns on special teams, gained three more yards than the entire offensive unit.
“When I look at myself as a football player, I do everything,” Harris said. “Whatever the coach wants me to do or whatever the team wants me to do."
“We have a lot of guys who work extremely hard, and they wait for their turn,” says Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee. “When you lose a guy like DeMarcus [Ware', a Hall of Fame-type of player, everyone has to step up. The 'D' line did it, the secondary did it, and the secondary found a way to step up.”
The contributions by the young players is certainly a positive sign, but the real key is for them is to do it again next week... and the week after that.
“Guys have stepped up and done a nice job,” Garrett said. “They've learned our system as quickly as they can, and they're playing hard.”