Offense, defense share blame in Cowboys’ loss

Posted Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Finish.

That’s what the Dallas Cowboys have been preaching all season. They didn’t do it in 2012, and they didn’t do it Sunday in a 31-30 loss to the Lions.

Both sides of the ball shared the blame. The defense, despite forcing four turnovers, gave up 24 points in the fourth quarter. The offense got off to a sluggish start and then had a costly mistake late in the game.

“We had opportunities on offense, defense and the kicking game to end it and we didn’t do it,” coach Jason Garrett said.

The most troubling statistic coming out of the game might not even be Calvin Johnson’s monster day. It’s the Cowboys’ being plus-4 in the turnover battle and still losing. Only one other team in Cowboys history has done that.

“That’s a shame,” defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin said. “We talk about turnovers and we did what we needed to do. We just didn’t make things as tough as we should have and, of course, we didn’t stop the pass. You can’t give up big chunks like that, gosh darn it.”

The turnovers were nice and are usually the difference-maker in the outcome, but the yardage allowed by the Dallas defense is staggering.

The Cowboys allowed 623 yards and are on pace to give up 6,760 yards on the season, which would be a team record and one of the worst in NFL history. They are also on pace to give up 5,062 passing yards, which would set an NFL record.

That makes the four turnovers a bit more sobering, although they surpassed their turnover total from last season at the halfway point. They forced two fumbles and two interceptions, but the offense turned those four extra drives into a total of only 10 points.

Linebacker Sean Lee had both interceptions in the second quarter. The offense went three-and-out after the first interception, but then scored a touchdown after the second pick.

A pair of recovered fumbles in the third quarter led to only three points.

The offense improved as the game wore on, though, handling the Lions’ defensive pressure better. The Cowboys took a 27-17 lead with 6:45 left in the game. The defense, though, was torched by Johnson and the Lions late.

Johnson had 99 receiving yards in the final 6:45 as the Lions pulled off a remarkable comeback by going 80 yards in 50 seconds on their game-deciding drive.

“When it matters most, when it’s time to get off the field, when it’s time to put a dagger in them in the last drive of the game, we weren’t able to do that,” cornerback Brandon Carr said. “That’s what cost us in the end.”

The Cowboys’ offense had a chance to put a dagger in the Lions the drive before, but failed to do that. Tackle Tyron Smith had a costly holding penalty with 1:07 left that prevented the clock from running down further.

Smith declined comment afterward, but it wasn’t all on him. The offense and defense both had chances to finish but didn’t.

“We lost it as a team today,” defensive tackle Jason Hatcher said. “Not pointing fingers at nobody. We lost it as a team. I put it on the defense. We should have closed the game out and we didn’t.”

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison

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