While many of the cheers and jeers for the Dallas Cowboys' performance last year have gone to a high powered offense, the defense played a big role in the season as well.
With the clock ticking down in the first half, the Dallas offense had just sustained a marathon drive that gave them the lead it seemed they would take into the locker room. But as if from out of nowhere, the Giants began driving down the field, aided by mental mistakes, stupid penalties, and altogether horrible team defense from Dallas. Because of this, the Giants knotted the game at halftime and the rest, as they say, is history.
In that one drive, the defense took all the momentum the offense had built and squashed it, giving the Giants the confidence they needed.
In the offseason, Jerry Jones addressed this deficiency by retaining key players and adding some big names that should make Big D one of the top defenses in the league.
The weakest part of last year's team was the secondary. With either Terence Newman or Anthony Henry trading time out with injuries, the Cowboys counted on the likes of Nate Jones and Jaques Reeves to shut down receivers like Plaxico Burress and Randy Moss.
This season, the team returns Henry and Newman, as well as adding first round pick Mike Jenkins, who has been impressing scouts in camp. Also, assuming his reinstatement, Adam "don't call me Pacman unless you already called me Pacman" Jones. Those four, along with safety Ken Hamlin and what appears to be an attitude (and diet) change by safety Roy Williams make the secondary one of the deepest in the league.
The other key addition by Jones was future Hall of Famer Zach Thomas who has also been impressive in camp. If Thomas can stay away from injury, a big if for the concussion prone, aging linebacker, his tackling skills will boost Dallas against the top running backs of the NFC East.
With the emergence of Tank Johnson, who will be anchoring the D-Line for his first full season along with the budding talent of DeMarcus Ware, and the Cowboys' defense will be the force that drives them deep into the playoffs this season.