Don’t overlook the role the defense has played in the Dallas Cowboys’ 13-2 record this season.
It’s been one heck of a ride for the Dallas Cowboys this season: 13 wins, NFC East Champions and the top seed in the conference heading into the playoffs. None of which is taking into consideration the individual achievements, most notably from rookie quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott.
Yes, the regular season still has one more game, but there is something to note about these Cowboys as the post season approaches and it has to do with their defense. They go largely unnoticed, yet they are just as responsible as the offense for Dallas’ 13-2 record. The Monday night contest against the Detroit Lions was a great example of why.
The Cowboys put up 42 points on the Lions, but it was the defense that turned the tide. Sure the defense was getting gashed early in the game and gave up three touchdowns on the first three Detroit possessions, but the unit stiffened to throw a shutout the rest of the way. The Cowboys could not have won the game with the defense being so banged up and playing so poorly, but they rallied to silence quarterback Matthew Stafford and the offense.
Truth be told it has been like this for the majority of the season. The defense gets off to a tad of a sluggish start, only to figure things out and play better later in the game. Rod Marinelli has made it a habit of making the right adjustments with his unit. Against the Lions the Dallas defense got three of their four sacks and both of their turnovers in the second half.
It’s also the bend but don’t break philosophy that has helped the Cowboys limit teams to field goals instead of touchdowns. Giving up just three points when Dallas’ offense is usually scoring touchdowns has been a major reason why the team has won 13 games. The Cowboys are the fourth best scoring defense in the NFL and have second best scoring differential in the league at +129.
The defense has also had a recent surge in sacks, 12 in their last four games, which has them tied for 12th in the NFL. And the pass rush was the biggest question mark for the Cowboys heading into the season.
All of this is coming from a defense that was supposed to be the weak link of the Cowboys. Right now, nothing could be further from the truth and the Dallas defense is pulling its weight.