The No. 1 takeway about the Cowboys 36-31 victory against the Giants Sunday night Cowboys was the greedy play of a defense that played without defensive tackle Jay Ratliff and defensive end Anthony Spencer.
The Cowboys forced a whopping six turnovers in the game, capped by a 49-yard interception return by cornerback Brandon Carr to ice the game in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys had three interceptions and three forced fumbles, including turnovers on the first three possessions of the game.
“Turnovers were the story of the game,” coach Jason Garrett said. “It’s been a huge emphasis from minute one. It’s good to see to taking from the practice field to the first game of the season. Taking the the ball away is the No. 1 ingredient to winning games in this league. It has been for a 100 years. It’s been a huge emphasis in practice. It’s infectious. It’s contagious.”
Defensive end DeMarcus Ware got things started with an interception on the first play of the game. Safety Will Allen had the other interception. Safety Barry Church had a forced fumble and also returned a fumble 27 yards for a touchdown. Rookie linebacker DeVonte Hollaman recovered a muffed punt.
It was the most turnovers by the Cowboys defense since 2003 and matched the most given up by the Giants in 25 years.
And while the unit had it’s moments in allowing Giants quarterback Eli Manning to pass for 450 yards and four touchdowns to go along with three interceptions, the wave of turnovers was certain evidence that firing of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and the hiring of Monte Kiffin in the offseason was taking hold.
The Cowboys forced 16 turnovers in just 16 games last season.
“Kiff is fantastic,” Garrett said. “He is one of the best coaches ever in this league. He has had a huge emphasis on our team in the short time he has been here. Made a huge impact on the game tonight."
Kiffin said it wasn't just about him but the impact of defensive line coach Rod Marinelli who was the Bears defensive coordinator last season when they led the league in turnovers.
Marinelli said the defense just took the field what they have been practicing.
"I think it's important," Marinelli said of the turnovers. "You work hard at it. There is no question about it. They see it and hopefully it pays dividends to winning. It's just about winning."
Said linebacker Sean Lee: "We've been emphasizing it since the off season. We have to find a way to take the ball away from the offense. I thought that was the great thing we did in the game. We found a way to get the ball out."
-- Clarence Hill