J.J. Wilcox showing steady signs of improvement

IRVING, Texas -- J.J. Wilcox didn't play well on Thanksgiving Day against Philadelphia. He’ll tell you that.

He played much better in the rematch, and it’s among the reasons the Dallas Cowboys are in first place in the NFC East.

In the first game against Philadelphia, a 33-10 loss, Wilcox played with too much emotion. He wanted so badly to make a big play that he was out of control and out of position. He chased the ball too hard, creating cutback lanes against the run. He bit too hard on run fakes creating passing windows in the Cowboys' zone defense.

Last Sunday night, he played under control. The results were superb.

His sensational juggling interception off a deflection on the final play of the third quarter set up the touchdown that pushed the Cowboys’ lead to 35-24.

“It was time for somebody to make a play,” Wilcox said. “A lot of people said we didn’t have a safety when the season started and I used that as a chip on my shoulder. I thank Jerry Jones and this organization for giving me a chance.”

Wilcox's forced fumble in the fourth quarter set up a field goal that gave the Cowboys a two-possession lead, while burning three minutes off the clock.

Not bad for a dude who didn’t starting playing safety until his senior year at Georgia Southern. Each game remains a learning experience for him.

“I thought he tackled really well and was very active,” coach Jason Garrett said. “He’s one of those guys that’s getting better and better every game he plays. It’s important to him. He really cares about it.

“I think he watches guys on our football team to see how they conduct themselves. He’s continuing to mature as a player and I think we’ve seen evidence of that during the season.”