LANDOVER, Md. – DeMarcus Ware wasn't just playing through a couple nicks and bruises in another limited performance Sunday against the Redskins.
Ware, who played sparingly and finished with just one combined tackle, said he'll undergo surgeries on his right elbow and his right shoulder in the offseason after fighting through the injuries the tail end of the season.
"I could have played better," Ware said. "I'm not a person that gives up the opportunity which we had. I always told myself pain subsides eventually, but if you give up, that's going to stick with you for a lifetime. That's the way I'd seen it today."
Ware didn't want to let his team and his teammates down by missing out on the most important game of the season. He said even if he couldn't perform to his capabilities, he thought his presence on the field could at least help the team's morale.
It didn't take long for Ware to realize that taking on blocks was nearly impossible with his right arm essentially useless. The Redskins burned the Cowboys on the edges all night, particularly with the zone read perfected by Alfred Morris, who ran for 200 yards, and Robert Griffin III, who also wasn't 100 percent after injuring his knee weeks prior.
"Ware was very limited, and he gave as much as you could ask of anybody to play tonight," said owner Jerry Jones, "but certainly he had his limitations. But they had players who had their limitations, too."
Ware said the upper body injuries continued to get worse every week, which became more and more evident as the season wore on. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan applauded Ware's effort and said the leadership he provided to a defense comprised mostly of backups and recent additions was critical.
"Almost every guy wouldn't have been out there," said defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. "We knew what that was going to be. It was going to be a hard day."
Ware's determination and grittiness couldn't translate to production on the field, but the defense still managed to hold the Redskins to 14 points through three quarters. Ware said he was shocked when the Cowboys couldn't pull off the victory, and he was critical of the defense's inability to create turnovers, which was also a problem a week prior against the Saints.
"Going into the game knowing you prepared the right way to win and you did enough things in the game to win the game, it's sort of difficult when you sort of have that destiny and you weren't able to fulfill it," Ware said. "You can't really pinpoint or say what you should or shouldn't have done when you lost the game. You're just feeling bad about it right now."
Ware said it was tougher to miss out on the playoffs considering the adversity the Cowboys battled through to get to where they were. Taking their spot in the playoffs atop the NFC East is a Redskins team with a dynamic offense led by two rookies who offered a glimpse of their potential for years to come.
"With RGIII and Morris, they run the ball really well," Ware said. "You've got to find some way to stop that running game, make them one dimensional, make them throw the ball. If you don't, things happen like tonight.