Cowboys All-Pro linebacker Sean Lee returned to the field Sunday for his first game in almost a month and started at Washington.

Lee had missed the three previous games with a strained left hamstring. While he was out, first-round pick Leighton Vander Esch filled in well for him.

Lee and Vander Esch rotated defensive series Sunday for the most part, although Lee received more playing time than the rookie in the fourth quarter.

“Leighton has done an incredible job,” Lee said. “For a rookie to play as well as he has is fantastic. He’s a great football player. He’s going to be in the game and he’s going to help us win.”

Vander Esch finished with four tackles and Lee had six.

“I felt really good physically,” Lee said. “The key for me is to stay healthy, stay out there.”

Lee had a key third-down stop late in the fourth quarter that gave the Cowboys the ball back with 1:09 to play and a chance to tie the game. On 3rd-and-9, Redskins quarterback Alex Smith scrambled to his left and Lee pushed him out of bounds after a 6-yard gain. That forced Washington to punt.

“I saw a pass and he’s a very athletic quarterback who makes plays with his feet,” Lee said. “As soon as he broke the pocket I said, ‘Hey, let’s go get him.'”

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