IRVING, Texas -- DeMarcus Ware considers last season’s win over the Saints one of his top two NFL memories.
Only six days earlier, he left Cowboys Stadium on a backboard, riding in an ambulance to a local hospital after suffering a frightening neck injury. It seemed impossible that he’d play the next week, but the Cowboys had hope when the swelling in Ware’s neck went down significantly overnight.
Ware didn’t practice all week, doing only light conditioning drills. Ware didn’t really test his neck until he warmed up on the Superdome field while his wife, Taniqua, watched from the sideline. That’s when he made the decision to play in the must-win game with the Cowboys fighting for their playoff lives, although he acknowledges that there was some hesitation in his mind.
“I mean, the game before you were on the ground and you can’t move,” Ware said. “Then all of the sudden, you’re able to play a little bit.”
Ware didn’t just play a little bit. He made a major difference as the Cowboys snapped out of their December doldrums by the Saints their first loss of the season.
Ware, who was limited to the nickel and dime packages for most of the game, had two strip-sacks of Drew Brees. The first set up a field goal in the final minute of the first half, giving the Cowboys a 14-point lead. The second sealed the 24-17 win in the final minute.
“The thing is, I had really fresh legs, so I knew that I was going to be able to play pretty well,” Ware said. “But you don’t know what type of plays you’re going to have.”
The only other game that Ware remembers as fondly on a personal level was the Dec. 2006 win over Atlanta. He had a pick-six that day with several family members from nearby Auburn, Ala. in the stands.