ARLINGTON, Texas – Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan made it clear on Friday this game was personal because of the two years he spent in Cleveland prior to joining the Cowboys in 2010.
But it was downright ugly for his defense in the early going Sunday, and Ryan, never one to bite his tongue, had no problems admitting that either.
"It wasn't pretty, especially in the first half," Ryan told reporters after the game. "I wasn't doing a great job of play-calling. We had injuries in the red zone making it tough on us. … We don't need excuses."
The Cowboys trailed 13-0 to the Browns at halftime, but held Cleveland without a point until the final minute of play when the visitors got the ball at the Cowboys' 17-yard line and scored in one play to take a 20-17 lead.
But for the most part, the Cowboys were able to turn things around in the second half. Browns rookie Trent Richardson rushed for 62 yards and had 31 receiving for 93 all-purpose yards in the first half. He finished with 95 and 49 for 144 total yards.
"He's a great back," Ryan said. "We knew he'd be tough and he was. Our guys fought like hell in the second half and I'm really proud of them."
Aided by Penalties
The Cowboys have usually been the team on the wrong end of penalties, but on Sunday, Cleveland committed 12 penalties and it seemed to happen at the worst times.
In fact, 10 of the 12 flags resulted in Cowboys' first downs, including two on the last drive of regulation that totaled 50 yards. A 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty that knocked Kevin Ogletree out of the game moved the ball up to the 39 and then a 35-yard pass interference call on Sheldon Brown trying to cover Dwayne Harris got them in field goal range.
The Cowboys weren't that great on their end, committing nine penalties for 92 yards.
Big Day for Spencer
While the Cowboys were struggling on both sides of the ball early in the game, Anthony Spencer seemed to be the only defensive player making plays from start to finish. Spencer finished the game with six tackles, one for a loss, and then a key sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery.
Spencer, who missed two games earlier this season, now has 4.5 sacks this year, closing in on his career-high of six seasons, set in 2009 and equaled last year.
- Sunday's game marked the first overtime contest in Cowboys Stadium history. Dallas' last home overtime game was in 2005 against Denver. The Cowboys dropped that outing 24-21. With the overtime win Sunday, Dallas owns an 18-13 overtime record, including a 4-5 mark at home.
- The Cowboys were gifted 10 first downs via penalty. It was the most first downs by penalty in a game dating back to 1988 – the furthest back that could be researched Sunday.
- Miles Austin had 58 receiving yards to give him 4,021 for his career, becoming the seventh Cowboys pass catcher to reach 4,000 career receiving yards.
- Dan Bailey connected on a 32-yard field goal with 0:02 remaining to send the game into overtime. With 6:07 left in the overtime period, he connected on a 38-yard game winner. The game-winning field goal was the fifth of Bailey's career, the second-most in Cowboys history behind Rafael Septien's seven.
- Dez Bryant finished the game with 12 catches for 145 yards and a* *touchdown. His 12 catches were the second-most in his career and tied the seventh-most in a game in team history. His 145 yards established a career-high, marking his third 100-yard outing of the season and the fourth of his career.
- Bryant's touchdown reception was the 19th of his career. He is now tied with Butch Johnson for 15th on the team's all-time touchdown receptions list.
- Bryant's 12 catches gave him 165 for his career and allowed him to pass Raghib Ismail (158), Bill Howton (161) and Mike Renfro (163) for 25th in team history.
- Dwayne Harris made the first receptions of his career, finishing with three for 20 yards.
- Felix Jones rushed 14 times to give him 546 career rushing attempts, passing Dan Reeves (535) for 11th in rushing attempts in club record books.
- Tony Romo completed 35-of-50 passes (70.0 percent) for 313 yards with one touchdown. His 50 pass attempts tied the third-most in his career and tied for seventh in a game in team history. Romo's 35 completions tied the third-most in his career and in franchise history. He owns the top-four spots for single-game completions.
- Romo's 50 pass attempts gave him 2,986 career pass attempts, moving him past Danny White (2,950) for third in team history.
- Romo's 70.0 completion percentage was his 29th career game with a completion percentage of at least 70.0. His 29 are the second-most in team history behind Troy Aikman's 39. Romo's 29 are also good for the sixth-most in the NFL since 2006. Drew Brees has the league-high with 43.
- With the win, Romo improved his record as a starter in the month of November to 21-3.
- Romothrew for 313 yards to improve his club record of 300-yard games to 36. The Cowboys now hold a 23-13 (.639) record when Romo tops 300 yards.
- Romo was sacked a career-high seven times.
- Ware's half sack gave him 10.0 for the season, his seventh consecutive season with 10-or-more sacks. Ware is the only current defender in the league with seven straight 10-plus sack seasons. His seven overall is tied with five others for the ninth-most 10-sack seasons in NFL history and is the sixth-highest figure of 10 sack seasons. Bruce Smith has the most with 13.
- Ware's seven consecutive 10-plus sack seasons is tied for the third-most in league history:
- Jason Witten had seven catches to give him 73 for the season, giving him his seventh overall and sixth consecutive season with at least 70 receptions, the second most overall and second most consecutive all-time among league tight ends.
- In catching seven passes, Witten upped his career receptions total to 769 to crack the top-25 of the NFL's all-time receptions list. He moved past James Lofton and Eric Moulds (764 each), Chad Johnson (766) and Marshall Faulk (767) to take the 25th spot.
- Witten's 51 yards upped his season yardage total to 636, giving him his ninth career and ninth consecutive season with at least 600 yards. His nine total are the third-most all-time among league tight ends and his nine consecutive are second.
- DeMarcus Ware's half sack gave him his eighth consecutive game with at least a half sack, the second such streak in his career.
- Warenow has 109.5 career sacks, and his half sack tied him with Greg Townsend for 18th all-time in NFL history.