(Photo Credit: LM Otero/Associated Press)
It’s not often you see a team force 6 turnovers in a single game.
It’s even less often that a team forcing 6 turnovers wins by less than a touchdown.
That’s exactly what happened to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night.
The Cowboys forced and recovered three fumbles, and intercepted Eli Manning three times, yet only won 36-31 when it was all said and done.
So, what went right? What went wrong? We review below.
What went right: Six Turnovers
This is the most obvious. Picks by DeMarcus Ware, Brandon Carr and Will Allen, along with three fumble recoveries by Barry Church, DeVonte Holloman and George Selvie show that the new mentality Monte Kiffin has brought to this defense is working.
The biggest two turnovers were the fumble recovery by Barry Church, which he returned 27 yards for a touchdown and Brandon Carr’s fourth quarter interception, which he returned 49 yards for a touchdown. Carr’s interception came with less than 2 minutes left in the game, and put the Cowboys up 12. Sure, Carr’s interception came off a tip, but he was in the right place at the right time to make the play.
Besides the turnovers, the defense did a good job getting pressure on Manning for most of the night. They hit Manning five times and sacked him three.
What went wrong: Consistency/Communication
You may think it’s nitpicking to discuss what went wrong when you see that a defense forced six turnovers, but they still allowed almost 500 yards of offense and 31 points, so clearly there was some inconsistency.
Two big plays come to mind when thinking about miscommunications, especially in the secondary. The first came in the first quarter, when Hakeem Nicks got loose for a 57 yard reception. Fortunately, that didn’t hurt Dallas.
The second was Victor Cruz’s 70 yard touchdown reception where Mo Claiborne and Will Allen clearly got confused on who was supposed to stick with the dynamic receiver. By the time they realized he was behind them it was far too late.
All in all, Eli Manning threw for 450 yards and 4 touchdowns in this game, and on a normal night, that beats you. So, Dallas needs to tighten the screws a little bit. I’d like to see Claiborne and Carr press a little more at the line. I felt like they were giving too much of a cushion for most of the game.
So, Dallas has a lot to improve upon heading into Week 2 against Kansas City. The Chiefs don’t have nearly as dynamic of an offense as the Giants, but they looked pretty good against the Jags. Jamaal Charles is a strong runner, and Alex Smith is capable of spreading the ball to a few talented receivers.
For Week 1, I give the Cowboys defense a B+.
What do you think?