Their game against the New York Giants on Sunday was almost a comedy of errors. Five offensive turnovers and yet miraculously the Dallas Cowboys had a slim lead in the fourth quarter, 24-23. The comeback came from a particularly excellent effort by the Dallas Cowboys defense.
After holding the Giants to a field goal, the Cowboys had a great charge down the field before Felix Jones fumbled, setting up another Giants field goal. The Cowboys could not gain a touchdown afterward.
In a game that will be remembered for the blunders of Tony Romo and Dez Bryant, the Cowboys defense actually held the Giants to only one touchdown. And that was after a Bryant kick-return fumble which set the Giants up at the 15-yard line.
The Cowboys defense gave up one long pass in the first quarter to Rueben Randle after a Mike Jenkins stumble. On that series they held the Giants to a field goal. That was essentially the theme of the game.
What makes this week’s loss so demoralizing is that Rob Ryan somehow spurred his defense, playing its first full game without star linebacker Sean Lee, to making the Giants uncomfortable.
Gifted with excellent field position throughout, Eli Manning never connected for a touchdown. (The second Giants touchdown came from a Jason Pierre-Paul interception against Tony Romo.) Victor Cruz was limited to two catches and the Cowboys actually got a turnover against him. The running game, led by Ahmad Bradshaw, was also stifled.
The defense for the Cowboys this season has been a bit of a roller coaster but a vast improvement from last year’s dreadful performance.
In their game against Chicago, the defense gave up long plays and runs against Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte and Devin Hester. That was easily their worst game and came during another five-turnover game. Against Baltimore, probably the second-worst outing for the defense, the Cowboys were held in check by Joe Flacco, who threw for over 250 yards. Ray Rice was able to score two touchdowns.
The Cruz turnover was a boon for the Cowboys—and the Cowboys offense was unable to capitalize. The third turnover the Cowboys got for the season was with rookie Morris Claiborne against Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton in the end zone. It was a question whether or not the Cowboys could gain turnovers without the athleticism of Sean Lee.
The game against the Giants was a good step forward for the Dallas defense. But it’s hard to fathom how they’d be pleased with how the game turned out.
It’s almost impossible for any team with five offensive turnovers to win against a high-caliber squad. It’s a shame that the Cowboys defense, playing so well against the Giants, had to see their offense blow a huge game. But, at least, the defense should recognize the extraordinary effort it took to keep the Cowboys even remotely in Sunday’s game.