David Irving doesn’t mind the spotlight moments. In fact, he jokingly claimed Sunday he didn’t even know what that word means.
“What’s the spotlight?” Irving asked after recording two sacks in the Cowboys’ 26-20 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. “We’re all here to work, and I’m not perfect. Our standard is set so much higher, that I’ll never be satisfied.”
The Cowboys’ defense found themselves in the middle of several spotlight moments late in Sunday’s win, after giving up 14 points in the third quarter and briefly surrendering the lead, 20-17, on Jameis Winston’s 10-yard touchdown pass to Cameron Brate late in the third.
But Irving’s second sack pushed the Bucs back eight yards on their drive that started with 2:58 left to play, and three plays later, Tampa had to punt. The Bucs would only get one more shot at scoring, and on that drive, Irving’s linemate Maliek Collins recorded a strip-sack that was recovered by tackle Leonard Wester before Cowboys’ cornerback Orlando Scandrick intercepted Winston two plays later to seal the win.
Irving said the Cowboys defense had a different feel to it in the fourth quarter.
“It was probably confidence,” Irving said. “We play off each other. We motivate each other, and when you get multiple guys on that level, things happen. Even if I’m not getting the sack, I wanted [Winston] to see me.”
Sunday was Irving’s second breakout game of 2016, after forcing three fumbles and a sack in the Cowboys’ 30-16 win at Green Bay. He got the team’s defensive game ball and was named the NFC’s defensive player of the week.
“It’s an honor,” said Irving, a second-year player out of Iowa State. “I never thought I’d be in the NFL. It’s amazing that I’m here with this group of guys.”
And with four sacks as a unit in the win over Tampa Bay, Irving and the Cowboys’ defensive line aren’t listening when talking heads say the Cowboys’ defense cant rush the passer.
“It doesn’t bother us at all,” Irving said. “We come out and we play as a team. If our pass rush is lacking, we’ve got to pick it up elsewhere. If our defense is lacking, our offense picks it up. We’re a team. We don’t really care. We don’t listen to outsiders.”
Matthew Martinez; 817-390-7760; @MCTinez817