Peyton Manning torched them a week ago with an aerial performance that would make the Blue Angels envious. Prior to that, Philip Rivers used them to show his revival wasn’t a fluke.
The holes in the Dallas Cowboys’ defense had been exposed, as they had allowed a combined 81 points and more than 1,000 yards of total offense in two combined weeks.
In the week-to-week industry that is the NFL, where it’s easy to forget that the Cowboys forced six turnovers in the season opener, questions arose about defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and whether his scheme and philosophy were what the Cowboys were truly missing.
But the Cowboys’ defense took a step in the right direction Sunday night, doing so with their best player on the sideline the second half. They forced two fourth-quarter turnovers and went from allowing 51 points last week to 16 this week in the Cowboys’ 31-16 victory over the Redskins.
“As a defense, we challenged ourselves, we weren’t satisfied with last week,” said cornerback Brandon Carr, who had six tackles. “Today, hopefully, was a glimpse of more things to come.”
The Redskins gained 462 yards on the night, but that is an improvement for the Cowboys after allowing more than 500 in each of the previous two weeks. More importantly, though, they came through with much-needed turnovers in the fourth quarter to seal the game.
Early in the fourth, defensive end Kyle Wilber – replacing an injured DeMarcus Ware – broke free in the backfield and sacked Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. In the process, he stripped and recovered the ball at the Redskins’ 3-yard-line.
Two plays later, the offense scored a TD to go ahead 31-16.
On the following Redskins drive, the defense squashed any possible late-game dreams for Washington when Orlando Scandrick tracked down a ball thrown by Griffin in the Cowboys’ end zone for an interception.
“I just thought, ‘Go get the ball,’” Scandrick said of his first interception since Nov. 20, 2011. “And then I knew I had it all the way.”
The Cowboys have now forced multiple turnovers in three of their six games.-- Drew Davison