The Cowboys came within 59 yards of allowing the third-most yards in a game in NFL history, so it should come as no surprise that they fell to 32nd in total defense. They also rank 32nd in pass defense after Matthew Stafford became the fourth quarterback to throw for at least 400 yards against them this season.
The Cowboys have allowed 2,671 passing yards, putting them on pace to allow 5,342 this season. That would be 546 more than the Green Bay Packers allowed in 2011 when they became the worst pass defense in NFL history.
What the Cowboys defense has been good at is forcing turnovers. They have 19 takeaways this season after getting only 16 all of last season, and their plus-9 turnover margin ranks second in the NFL behind only Kansas City.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said yards aren't the No. 1 statistic with which to judge a defense.
“We’re not overly concerned about yards," Garrett said. "Certainly, you want to stop them. You don’t want them to continue to drive the ball, drive the ball, drive the ball. But if you take the ball away like we did [against the Lions], and then play good situational defense down in the red zone, you have a chance to be a good defense. We didn’t do that [Sunday]. They got down there five times, and they scored four touchdowns. We did take the ball away, which limited their opportunities.
"But some people get caught up in yards. It’s down the road, but it’s also a good indicator of how you’re functioning, whether you’re moving the ball on offense or how you’re stopping them from moving the ball when you’re playing defense.”
-- Charean Williams