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August 18, 2013

Cowboys defense is bending but not breaking, allowing only 17 points per game

The Cardinals had 365 yards but only four field goals. Call that a win for the Cowboys defense.

“That's pretty impressive how our defense held that score down so that we can get in there and play,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said.

The Cowboys are shifting from the 3-4 to the 4-3 a season after allowing the most yards in team history. They have allowed 1,111 yards in three preseason games, an average of 370.3, but have allowed only 51 points, an average of 17 per game. They have forced five turnovers after getting only 16 in 16 regular-season games last year.

"That goes to the coaches just drilling us day in and day out, every since OTAs," cornerback Brandon Carr said. "Guys coming in with that chip on their shoulder after last season. Guys coming in eager. It's a new system. We know there's a leanring curve. At the same time, it's all about the effort we put into it -- guys in the classroom, asking questions on the field. It's an ongoing process. This is another stop in the process as far as us creating an identity and still learning what we need to be successfull in this defense, but so far, so good."

The Cardinals had the ball a lot in the first quarter when all or some of the Cowboys’ first-team defenders were on the field. Dallas forced a three-and-out on Arizona’s first possession, but then Dwayne Harris fumbled a punt.

The Cardinals got the ball at the Dallas 22 after the fumbled punt, but the Cowboys held them to only 15 yards and a field goal. Arizona drove 82 yards on its third possession but turned it over on downs. The Cowboys forced an incompletion on fourth down, with backup Jerome Long getting pressure on quarterback Carson Palmer.

Arizona had the ball for 12:26 and 22 plays in the first quarter, gaining 101 yards but held only a 3-0 lead.

“It’s huge being able to make a stop inside the red zone after a turnover,” Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee said. “It’s something we need to pride ourselves on. Not giving up touchdowns is something we need to pride ourselves on. Another thing we need to pride ourselves on is getting takeaways, making the other team turn the ball over. It’s something we could have done better tonight.”

-- Charean Williams

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