Cowboys come together after teammate's tragic death

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by JOE TRAHAN

Bio | Email | Follow: @joetrahan

WFAA

Posted on December 20, 2012 at 12:16 AM

IRVING — The kids from Happy Hill Farms added some Christmas cheer around Valley Ranch on Wednesday.

"Certainly our coaches and players like hearing the Christmas carols, and — every so often — we'll jump in and share," said head coach Jason Garrett.

The Cowboys added to the festive feel around North Texas with three straight fourth-quarter comeback wins. Unlike earlier in the season, Dallas is now making crucial plays late to win close games.

Some Cowboys say a big part of what's going on is a direct result of how they responded to the tragic events that cost linebacker Jerry Brown Jr. his life... and what followed less than 24 hours later against the Bengals.

"For once this year, I'm not saying nothing bad," defensive lineman Jason Hatcher said. "For once, everybody got on that field and didn't play for themselves. You had to play for Jerry, and it helped us."

"When you're going through everything and you see guys emotional, crying, and you see other guys trying to pick them up, I think that just tightens the bond and brings us closer every day," cornerback Mo Claiborne added.

All the great coaches will tell you a team can't reach its true potential until all the players on it realize they've got to play for something bigger than themselves. And the guys in the Cowboys' locker room say that's exactly what's happening now.

"I know it kinda made guys take a step back and open their eyes and realize hey we're not going to be together forever, and we're not going to be around each other for a long time; tragic things do happen," defensive lineman Marcus Spears said.

The "bullet-proof" factor that comes along with being a young millionaire has been shattered, so the game has become more precious... tougher to take for granted.

The same goes for the relationships in the locker room.

"Everybody is just playing relentless, and you can tell we're playing for each other, man," Hatcher said. "We're just playing together as a team, man. It's a lot of fun putting your hand in the dirt with 11 guys that you really care about."

Caring for your colleague — part of what this season is all about.

E-mail jtrahan@wfaa.com

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