Finally, Cowboys defense awakes from early winter’s nap

Posted Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
A

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

In the fourth quarter, the Dallas Cowboys’ defense had to do something it hadn’t done since Thanksgiving — make a second-half stop.

It made two.

Orlando Scandrick broke up a pass on a third-and-6 play to give the Cowboys the ball back for a go-ahead drive, and after Washington got the ball back with a chance to drive for a field goal to win the game, the defense forced a four-and-out.

The most maligned part of the team in losses to Chicago and Green Bay came through.

“I will tell you this — after watching our defense step out there and get them four-and-out when all they had to do was get in field goal range with the wind at their back? I am proud of that bunch, too,” owner Jerry Jones said. “And they deserve some good things happening to them, the defense, the staff. And they got that out there.”

Every third- and fourth-quarter possession the Cowboys’ defense had faced since the Oakland game had resulted in points or a knee to end the game.

The second half Sunday against Washington began the same way — with points on the first three possessions: two touchdowns and a field goal, which turned a 14-6 Cowboys lead into a 23-14 Redskins lead.

But giving up the field goal was actually a partial victory. Despite surrendering a bonus first down on J.J. Wilcox’s late hit, the Cowboys did not allow it to become a touchdown drive, which in turn kept the offense from needing two touchdowns to win.

The field goal wasn’t a stop. But it was something tangible after the previous two games, and the Cowboys did not give up points after that.

“We proved before we can finish games. We’ve just got to make it more consistent,” safety Barry Church said. “We had to show it to ourselves, because after Green Bay, that was a tough loss — one of the toughest losses we’ve faced as a team. We never really doubted ourselves. We just had to get our confidence back, and we did today.”

Tackle Jason Hatcher said the defense did not necessarily need a chance to prove itself at the end.

“We would have taken the clock running out,” he said. “That’s the easiest way to win. But it was on us. It wasn’t a chance we were looking for, it’s just a chance that we got. We took care of business. Four downs, we got off the field.”

Church, who had seven tackles but missed the second-to-last series because he was getting his ankle retaped, said the defensive players had a heart-to-heart before the final two series, with the offense having cut the lead to 23-17.

“We had a meeting before we went out there as a defense and just said, ‘Hey, our backs are against the wall, our playoff lives are against the wall, so we’ve just got to make a play. Don’t look at somebody else to make a play, just make a play yourself,’ ” Church said. “We went into the last couple series with that mindset. It ended up being vital for us.”

Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407 Twitter: @calexmendez

Looking for comments?

We welcome your comments on this story, but please be civil. Do not use profanity, hate speech, threats, personal abuse, images, internet links or any device to draw undue attention. Our policy requires those wishing to post here to use their real identity.

Our commenting policy | Facebook commenting FAQ | Why Facebook?





Wednesday, April 16Full Scoreboard
Tampa Bay0Top 3rd | Box
Baltimore0@theBallpark | TV: Sun Sports, MASN
Pittsburgh0Bottom 3rd | Box
Cincinnati1@theBallpark | TV: MLB N, ROOT-PIT, FSN-OH
Chicago Cubs0Bottom 1st | Box
NY Yankees0@theBallpark | TV: CSN-CHI, YES
St. Louis0Bottom 1st | Box
Milwaukee0@theBallpark | TV: MLB Network, FSN-MW
NY Mets 4/16 3:40 PM ET
Arizona TV: SNY, FSN-AZ
Chicago Cubs 4/16 7:05 PM ET
NY Yankees TV: MLB Network, WGN, My9
Atlanta 4/16 7:05 PM ET
Philadelphia TV: FSN-S, TCN-PHI
Cleveland 4/16 7:08 PM ET
Detroit TV: MLB N, STO, FSN-DET+
Washington 4/16 7:10 PM ET
Miami TV: MASN, FSN-FL
Seattle 4/16 8:05 PM ET
Texas TV: ROOT-NW, FSN-SW
Boston 4/16 8:10 PM ET
Chicago WSox TV: NESN, WCIU
Kansas City 4/16 8:10 PM ET
Houston TV: FSN-KC, CSN-HOU
Toronto0Postponed | Box
Minnesota0
Oakland 4/16 10:05 PM ET
LA Angels TV: CSN-CA, FSN-W
Colorado 4/16 10:10 PM ET
San Diego TV: ROOT-RM, FSN-SD
Los Angeles 4/16 10:15 PM ET
San Francisco TV: SNLA, NBC Bay Area
Full Scoreboard
Wednesday, April 16Full Scoreboard
Chicago 4/16 7:00 PM ET
Charlotte TV: CSN-CHI, SportSouth
Indiana 4/16 7:00 PM ET
Orlando TV: FSN-IN, FSN-FL
Washington 4/16 8:00 PM ET
Boston TV: CSN-DC, CSN-NE
Brooklyn 4/16 8:00 PM ET
Cleveland TV: YES, FSN-OH
Dallas 4/16 8:00 PM ET
Memphis TV: FSN-SW, SportSouth, ESPN
Philadelphia 4/16 8:00 PM ET
Miami TV: CSN-PHI, SunSports
Atlanta 4/16 8:00 PM ET
Milwaukee TV: SportSouth, FSN-WIS
Utah 4/16 8:00 PM ET
Minnesota TV: ROOT-RM, FSN-N
Houston 4/16 8:00 PM ET
New Orleans TV: CSN-HOU, FSN-NO
Toronto 4/16 8:00 PM ET
New York TV: Sportsnet 360, MSG
Detroit 4/16 8:00 PM ET
Oklahoma City TV: FSN-DET, FSN-OK
LA Lakers 4/16 8:00 PM ET
San Antonio TV: TWC SN, FSN-SW
Golden State 4/16 10:30 PM ET
Denver TV: ESPN, CSN-BA+, Altitude
LA Clippers 4/16 10:30 PM ET
Portland TV: FSN-PT, KGW
Phoenix 4/16 10:30 PM ET
Sacramento TV: FSN-AZ, CSN-CA
Full Scoreboard
Full Scoreboard
No games this week
Full Scoreboard
Wednesday, April 16Full Scoreboard
Montreal 4/16 7:00 PM ET
Tampa Bay TV: CNBC, CBC, RDS, SunSports
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game One.
Columbus 4/16 7:30 PM ET
Pittsburgh TV: NBCSN, CBC, FS-OH, ROOT
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game One.
Dallas 4/16 10:00 PM ET
Anaheim TV: NBCSN, TSN
Western Conference Quarterfinals, Game One.
Full Scoreboard