CINCINNATI – Cornerback Brandon Carr received a devastating and eerily similar call for the second straight week that he refused to believe.
As he was leaving the funeral services of Kasandra Perkins, who was killed by former Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher the previous weekend, Carr received the news that teammate Jerry Brown had passed away.
"Time on this earth is precious," said Carr, still visibly impacted by the past week's events. "It's up to us to try to fill it from the time you're born to the time you expire. You have to fill it with positive things and just try to seize every opportunity you have to make a good impact."
Carr missed the team charter flight to attend Perkins' funeral in Austin. The minute he heard about Brown's passing, he knew he needed to get back to his teammates.
"I know what it's like to go through this, and you don't want to go through this alone," Carr said.
He landed in Cincinnati on Saturday night. Less than 24 hours later, he would go on to play one of his greatest games as a member of the Cowboys.
The Bengals reached midfield in the second quarter after scoring a touchdown and a field goal on their first two possessions when quarterback Andy Dalton rolled to his right and looked for star receiver A.J. Green.
"I was in my zone and just reading the quarterback," Carr said. "I know that's their go-to guy. Sometimes they may try to force it to him. That was one of those plays where he had confidence in himself that he could squeeze it in there. I was sitting there kind of waiting for it and just broke on the ball as I saw it and just tried to get back to the house, but I ran out of gas. I'm on E."
Carr picked off the pass and returned it 37 yards to the Bengals' 27-yard line, setting up the Cowboys' first touchdown drive of the game and completely shifting the momentum toward a Dallas squad that would allow only nine more points the rest of the way.
Green caught just three passes for 44 yards and seemed rattled most of the day, dropping a pass near the goal line that would have likely been a touchdown. Carr and cornerback Morris Claiborne both played a crucial role in stopping Green until Claiborne went down on a tackle in the third quarter.
Carr sat down with his legs out in front of him near the Cowboys' 40-yard line in disbelief as a stretcher came out to assist the near-motionless rookie. Shortly after, Claiborne popped up to his feet and was able to walk off the field under his own power.
"I'm just like, man, my little brother's down on the ground," Carr said. "I didn't really know the severity of everything. I just had to just sit down and try to get myself back together. There's a game we have to play still. I just said a little prayer and tried to get myself together, do a little meditation and get myself back to the action."
Carr served as one of the lone healthy veterans in a Cowboys secondary that stopped every Bengals player from reaching the 50-yard receiving mark. He said after getting his teammates' support the last couple weeks, he needed to return the favor.
"My mindset is just put one foot in front of the other," Carr said. "When I wake up, thank God I'm alive, get my day going, continue to keep pressing on in the midst of everything going on."
The pious cornerback somehow figured out a way to move past an emotional week, becoming the only Cowboys player with two interceptions on the year. He hoped the team's performance could be inspirational to anyone facing hardships similar to the ones he confronted this week.
"We were all blessed to wake up and come out here and try to put together a good performance and try to serve as an outlet for people who are grieving," Carr said. "Whatever they're grieving over, just be a positive light in whatever a person may be going through. We have three hours to put a smile on their face, three hours to try to forget about what's going on in their lives and just watch us and cheer for their team.
"It makes you put everything in perspective, as far as life. I love playing this game, but there's more to it than just playing football. I have a family I have to take care of. I have to raise my daughter. It makes you put a lot of things in perspective. Carpe diem."
He certainly seized the day.