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The VRR: Keith Brooking is "Desperate to Win"; Sensabaugh to Have Surgery

The Dallas Cowboys have found a leader in Keith Brooking. Every week, the veteran inside linebacker makes plays as if he is single-handedly trying to shut down the opposition's offense. One guy can only do so much, but it looks like the Dallas defenders are really beginning to follow his example.

Perhaps the offense can do the same? Speak it, Mr. Brooking.

"I don't know if this is going to sound right, but there's a fine line between being desperate and pushing the panic button," Brooking said. "We've got to be desperate to win. We've got to be desperate on Wednesday. Actually we've got to be desperate tomorrow when we watch film. Be accountable, look ourselves in the mirror and not say, 'If this guy would've done this,' or, 'If this guy would've done that,' but look yourself in the mirror and figure out what you can do to make the team better.

Preparation and consistency. Preparation and consistency. Brooking sure has the right idea.

"We've got to make the plays when it's time to make them in the ballgame offensively, defensively and special teams," Brooking said. "We've got to be more consistent on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and that's when you win ballgames. I'm not panicking. I'm desperate. I want to win so bad, but I'm not panicking. We've got three quarters to play in our season and we can't keep saying this week in and week out. We have to act now."

More VRR after the jump.

The defense was rather stellar up until Brandon Marshall's 51-yard score.

Tight end Daniel Graham helped spring Marshall with a block on linebacker Bradie James, but otherwise it was all Marshall.

"As soon as I caught it and I hit the middle of the field," Marshall said, "I thought I had a chance to score, but the big body wasn’t fast enough so I had to make some cuts to get to the end zone."

Marshall sprinted to the center of the field, arriving at the 20 at the same time as safety Ken Hamlin, who had a clean shot. But Marshall reversed direction, leaving Hamlin off balance. Marshall gave Hamlin a hard shove and headed to the sideline. He never took his eyes off the end zone. Give Newman and Jones credit. They didn’t give up. They chased Marshall … and collided into each other at the 17.

Nick Eatman gives the defense its rightful props, but says the offense needs to do its part to help out.

All of a sudden, things stopped. Denver shut down the run by loading players in the box. And when you have a secondary, led by a stud corner in Champ Bailey and a physical, veteran safety like Brian Dawkins, teams like the Broncos can sell out to stop the run, knowing they'll be alright against the pass.

And really, that's the problem with this Cowboys offense. They can't make plays in the passing game consistently. Maybe they need more speed. Maybe they need more experience. Maybe they just need more playmakers.

Against the Broncos, the Cowboys didn't even need a lot of plays. Just a few. The defense gives them a turnover on the first play of the second half and the Cowboys can't do anything, not even a field goal.

Jimmy Johnson is confused by the offense's lack of success.

Now, I don't know what the Cowboys are thinking. They will be looking at how Tony Romo played again; they will be examining all that. I mean, this was a big game, and Tony didn't deliver again in the big game. I'm telling you, it looks like he needs to get more offensive weapons. They missed Felix Jones in this game because he produces big plays.

Why didn't the Cowboys take more shots down the field, yesterday?

Some of it was attributed to pressure; he couldn't expect to hold the ball long with Denver defenders swarming around him. Some of it was unfavorable down-and-distances. The Broncos' linebackers and safeties also showed a variety of looks and did a good job of disguising blitzes and coverages. Romo said during the week their defense reminded him of the Ravens', and he was right.

To gun-sling or not to gun-sling? That is the new question for the Cowboys' coaches regarding Tony Romo.

Romo is struggling to work within the conservative system that Phillips and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett have stressed. Heck, we’ve all stressed it, and rightfully so. I’m just not sure he can do it and still be the Tony Romo the Cowboys need to win football games. Believe it or not, owner Jerry Jones seems to be thinking along the same lines.

"You’d like him to be a threat, in other words, not be so conservative that he doesn’t give himself a chance to be a threat any more," Jones said. "We all know the threat he can be and how that can complement and make some good things happen, too. "When we got desperate at the end, and we were behind, there he goes, then he turned it on and said, 'I’ve got to go out here and make the plays.’ "Well, do you balance that up a little more early? Probably not if you’re running the ball as good as we’re running the ball, you don’t have to pay that price, but if all of a sudden you’re not running the ball ..."

Of all the Dallas receivers, it was Sam Hurd who almost saved the day for the Cowboys.

"When Tony starts moving like that," Hurd said, "you do, too. You just keep running."

Hurd kept running for 53 yards, and here's the telling statistic: The other Cowboys wide receivers, those ahead of Hurd on the depth chart, combined to gain just 70 yards. Roy Williams wasn't available at the end. He'd reached for another Romo misfire and took a hit he said was worse than anything he'd ever felt. He tried to return but couldn't breathe.

After the fourth-down catch and run, Hurd was sucking the thin air of Denver, too. But Hurd was soon sprinting again, getting another first down. The problem: Hurd hadn't continued forward as he went out of bounds, and the clock kept ticking. The Cowboys had to use their final time-out.

"Again," Hurd said, "my mistake."

Two important starters, WR Roy Williams and SS Gerald Sensabaugh, suffered injuries against Denver.

S Gerald Sensabaugh - thumb (10/4) The Cowboys' starting strong safety broke his right thumb in the first half and did not return. His hand heavily wrapped after the game, Sensabaugh said he expected to have his thumb surgically repaired this week and wasn't sure when he would return. He said he broke the same thumb in college and missed only one game, however.

WR Roy Williams - ribs (10/4) Williams took a brutal hit to the midsection from Denver's D.J. Williams in the fourth quarter. He caught a first down on the next series but didn't return for the Cowboys' final drive. Team owner Jerry Jones said Williams suffered bruised ribs.

Williams' ability to play against Kansas City is in question.

Coach Wade Phillips said Williams' availability for Sunday's game at Kansas City is in question. Phillips said Williams did not suffer any cracked ribs, but the problem has to do with the cartilage.

Sensabaugh may miss a significant amount of playing time.

Head coach Wade Phillips said Sensabaugh could miss up to four weeks, but after the game Sensabaugh was optimistic he could return Oct. 25 against Atlanta -- the first game after the Cowboys' bye week.

In college, Sensabaugh had a plate inserted to stabilize a previous fracture in the same thumb. He said he only missed one game.

Here is NFL.com's gamecenter link for Dallas @ Denver.