himself on this night that also included another forced fumble, a pass defensed in coverage and three quarterback pressures that were just a tick away from three more sacks.
So on the sixth play of the game, second-and-11 from the Seahawks 36, Seattle tried to counter that wide rush of the outside linebacker in the 3-4 by slanting left tackle Walter Jones inside and pulling left guard Steve Hutchinson outside to the left.
Hutchinson must have been in shock. Because Ware busted right past him before he even got close to getting there, and then he did what he does: Turned that corner with great lean and balance, grabbed Hasselback from almost behind with his left hand and slapped the ball out of his throwing hand with the right.
Enough? Naw, the ball fell at his feet, all for him - Cowboys ball at the Seattle 33.
"He came out today, and I said, 'Man, he filled up his stat sheet today,'" cornerback Terence Newman said.
That was rather remarkable. The interception, though, was rather exhilarating I'm guessing for a Cowboys scouting department which had to project this down defensive end in college to a standup outside linebacker in the NFL.
Up until that point, the Cowboys acted as if they did not realize the tight end was an eligible receiver. It wasn't even the second quarter yet, and Stevens had caught four passes for 52 yards - two of those on the previous two plays for 23 yards.
It was first-and-10 at the Seattle 35, and I'm guessing Seattle was guessing the Cowboys couldn't cover Stevens. So they had him in the shallow slot against the Cowboys' 3-4, matching him up with Ware. Hasselbeck ran a reverse boot to his right and he had Stevens open. But there was Ware trailing, maybe a step or two behind, and whoosh, the 6-4, 255-pounder closed on the ball when it was in the air. I mean closed, and on top of that, dived for the ball as if he was that high school receiver once again.
"Man, I thought it was a cornerback at first, or a safety," Newman said of when he looked inside at the interception. "Whoa?"
He said whoa. You said wow, didn't you?
Bill said . . . .
"He told me I did really well," said Ware softly, as if he was telling some sort of secret. "(Said) to keep it up, but it's only preseason."
Granted. But this had to leave you wondering when was the last time a Cowboys player had a sack, interception, fumble recovery and two forced fumbles in one game, along with a pass defensed to boot. Now Ware wasn't perfect. He got caught pinching in too hard a couple of times and runs bounced outside of him.
"I did make a few mistakes in there; I should have dropped (into coverage) a couple of times," Ware said.
That humility, and really, it's no act. That's him. He wasn't celebrating in the locker room after the game, and was almost embarrassed that he, a rookie, was the center of media attention - but not until after Parcells had departed.
Did he feel the pressure Monday night to show something after a near invisible performance a week ago Saturday?
"With me, I just got out and play hard," he deflected. "I know a lot is expected of me. I know it's stats, but I just go out and play as hard as I can."
But this happened on MNF, and we're guessing this had to be a big deal to be on network national TV, which is a tad bigger than that ESPN Thursday night national cable telecast last year at Troy.
"I just go out and play as hard as I can, and I don't care if it's Monday night or Tuesday night," Ware said, reflecting his grass roots Auburn, Ala., upbringing.
Let's assume the Cowboys hope Sunday afternoons apply, too, for if nothing else, and even though this was but the second of four preseason games against a team which probably did very little film study of the rookie, he did whet a bunch of appetites out there.
And at least reversed all that premature apprehension to premature exaltation.
|Anyone feel a tad better about that third receiver spot after seeing|
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