On first and goal from the Dallas 1-yard line early in the fourth quarter Sunday, some guy named Datone Jones burst through the interior of Seattle’s offensive line and tackled Seahawks running back Thomas Rawls for a 5-yard loss.
The play, big at the moment, turned into a play-by-play footnote in a 21-12 Cowboys loss.
For Jones, though, the play and the moment might have a big affect on his future.
The Cowboys (8-7) will miss the playoffs. They close the season at Philadelphia Sunday.
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However for Jones, who was acquired by Dallas just a few days after Thanksgiving, his play was the culmination of an improbable and bizarre rise to football relevance once again.
“I think in games like this, fighting for a playoff spot, you have to be maniacal,” Jones said. “For me starting, I didn’t want to let down my defensive line, I didn’t want to let down our linebackers.
“But as as a team, we just didn’t do enough to win game.”
The Cowboys are Jones’ fourth team this season and the fifth in his career after being a first-round round draft choice by Green Bay in 2013.
The Minnesota Vikings took a chance on him last March, cut him from injured reserve in September and the former UCLA standout bounced around from Detroit to San Francisco, before landing in Dallas.
Along with defensive tackle Daniel Ross, who was acquired from the Kansas City Chiefs practice squad on Nov. 11, the duo had the kind of impact that signals some significant depth might finally be available at one of the Cowboys’ most Jekyll and Hyde positions.
Ross, whose only collegiate experience was Northeast Mississippi Community College, entered the league as an undrafted free agent with the Houston Texans. He’s had practice squad stints with the Texans and Lions. He also played a season in the Canadian Football League.
Jones and Ross, along with regular Maliek Collins, battled Seattle double-teams for most of Sunday’s game.
That freed up edge rushers DeMarcus Lawrence, Taco Charlton and Benson Mayowa to get one-on-one match-ups and wreak havoc.
Each defensive end recorded timely sacks on Seattle’s Russell Wilson.
That’s where a combination of porous offensive play, turnovers and an overwhelmed secondary caused Dallas to lose its final grip on playoff hopes in just one drive.
Wilson marched the Seahawks 79 yards for the back-breaking score and connected on four passes for 35 of his 93 total passing yards for the game.
Jones finished with three tackles in 36 snaps (63.2 percent) and Ross finished with two in just 18 plays on defense (31.6 percent).
But what might be more significant to the Cowboys was how they were used in a tight spot with David Irving (concussion) out.
“We came in with a great plan, especially against their passing game and executed that,” Ross said. “We were expecting them to play that way up front, especially with the kind of running game and QB they have and we knew what they were going to try and do.
“For Datone and I, we knew taking on the double teams would free up our guys on the outside to do what they do best.”