IRVING, Texas – Jason Hatcher is now the last man standing on the defensive line.
Jay Ratliff and Anthony Spencer haven't played in a game this year, and with DeMarcus Ware potentially out this weekend, Hatcher's the only anticipated starter from the beginning of the year still on the field. He knows it's crucial he keeps his level of play steady after a strong first six weeks.
"I'm the leader of this D-line now with D-Ware gone," Hatcher said. "I've got to hold these guys accountable to play the game the right way and play their butts off and don't approach the game like they're backups. I talked to them after the game and said, 'You guys are starters, so prepare like a starter this week.' I've got to do my job as a leader to get these boys ready."
Hatcher put together one of the best performances of his career Sunday against the Redskins, compiling two sacks to give him a career-high five for this season. With Ware out early with a quad injury, the defense needed the veteran to come through the way he did. [embedded_ad]
"It was a big game, but I still think I should have done some stuff better," Hatcher said. "I couldn't have done it without my teammates, without the whole defense. It's not about me. I'm just a role player on this team."
One of his sacks was first called an incomplete pass, as Robert Griffin III attempted to launch the ball out of bounds as Hatcher came roaring past the line. Defensive line coach Rod Marinelli couldn't believe it wasn't called a sack.
The officials reviewed the play and reversed the call, ruling that Griffin's knee was down before the ball was out of his hands. But the officials also enforced a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Marinelli, who was offering his take on the initial call.
Hatcher had some fun talking about Marinelli, a coach Hatcher considers one of the best in the league.
"We got him on the grade sheet, I think he got an 'F' today for that penalty," Hatcher joked. "But he fought for my sack, so I got a sack, so that's my fifth of the season and I thank him for that. It's all fun and games. We won the game and we're very excited about it."
The Cowboys also got some help from Kyle Wilber, who went in after Ware's injury. Wilber contributed with a strip sack and fumble recovery on the same play.
Hatcher said it was a major blow losing Ware, but the line is confident Wilber can hold down the position until Ware gets back. Hatcher also knows he has to continue to set the tone the way he did against the Redskins. He's not concentrating on all his sacks right now, but he's set lofty expectations for himself.
"I'm just trying to get as many as I can," he said. "I'm not going to limit myself. I would like to be in the double digits when the season's over with. I'm just going to play the best I can, man, and look at the end of the season and see how many I have."