The benching of Bruce Carter is explained

ARLINGTON, Texas -- In a surprise move, the Dallas Cowboys' Ernie Sims started in the base defense over Bruce Carter as the weakside linebacker against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

However, after Sims struggled to make several tackles in the first half, Carter started in the base defense in the second half.

"I'm just trying to find the best combination for our football team at that position," linebackers coach Matt Eberflus said. "I'm still working that out. You got first down, you got second down and you got third down. Both of them have different things they bring to the table in terms of helping our football team, and we're going to work that combination during the course of the game and see what the best thing is for us to win."

Carter finished with six tackles and Sims with three. It's hard to say who took the lead, or if the rotation should continue, but coach Jason Garrett explained why Carter didn't at least start.

"He responded really well, really well," Garrett said. "He practiced this week, and you know Ernie got the start and Ernie played a lot in this ballgame, but Bruce got his chanced and he made some plays in this game. The best part about him is his demeanor and his spirit. We saw a little of Bruce Carter out there today, which is good. Flying around, making plays, having an impact on the game. He did a really good job."

Carter didn't make his first appearance until the Vikings attempted a field goal with about 2:08 to play in the first quarter. Before he entered the game, Sean Lee and Sims were the nickle linebackers.

In the first half, Sims missed two tackles on Adrian Peterson, who rushed for 140 yards on 25 carries. In the second half, Carter made a tackle on Peterson, causing a one-yard loss

"It's all based on combinations," Eberflus said. "I have two solid players, they're both trying to play better, they're still working and they're working their ass off, and we'll find the best combination."