Turnovers 'biggest single factor' in Cowboys' losses

IRVING -- The Dallas Cowboys are seventh in total offense and fourth in total defense.

They are one of only five teams that rank in the top 10 in both categories.

But the Cowboys are 3-4.

They know exactly why they are where they are: Dallas has 19 turnovers and is minus-11 in turnover margin. In 117 games this season, NFL teams with a positive turnover margin are 38-9. They are 12-32 with a minus margin.

"I think it's probably been the biggest single factor [in the four losses]," Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Monday.

The Cowboys rank 31st in giveaways and 31st in net differential. Only Kansas City, which is 1-6, has more turnovers (25) and a worse turnover margin (minus-18).

The Cowboys have had only one game with a positive turnover margin. Miles Austin lost a fumble in Carolina, but Dallas ended up plus-one. The Cowboys were even in turnovers in the season-opening victory over the New York Giants.

In their three victories, the Cowboys have five turnovers and are even in net differential. In their four losses, they have 14 giveaways and are minus-11.

Dallas had six turnovers Sunday and ended up minus-4 in the 29-24 loss to the Giants.

Garrett was asked if he was "frustrated" by the Cowboys' inability to hold onto the football. Mind you, "frustrated" is not a word the Cowboys coach uses.

"In this particular case, absolutely," Garrett said, "and that's something we just have to continue to work on. Frustration is not a helpful emotion, but it's something that we just have to continue to focus on and get better at. It's been a point of emphasis for our team. At times, we've done a very good job of it, and I think the results speak for themselves. Other times we haven't, and similarly the results speak for themselves."

Quarterback Tony Romo has been the biggest offender. He has 15 of the team's 19 giveaways, with a league-leading 13 interceptions. Only twice in his career has he thrown more than 13 interceptions, and he threw only 10 last season.

"The quarterback did a great job with that last year," Garrett said of Romo. "At times this year, he's done a really good job with it. But every time you go out there, it's a challenge. Every time you have the ball in your hands in the NFL, it's a challenge. We've just got to make sure we do it right."

Romo has been intercepted nine times in the past two home games, with three run back for touchdowns.

Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul had a 28-yard return in the second quarter Sunday that gave the visitors a 23-0 lead. Garrett credited Pierre-Paul with a great play rather than a mistake by Romo.

Receiver Dez Bryant played a part in Romo's first interception by failing to flatten out his route, allowing safety Stevie Brown to undercut it. And, on Romo's second interception, Austin saw on film Monday that he has a responsibility to play defense and knock the ball away instead of letting cornerback Corey Webster intercept it.

"I think if you look at the turnovers this year, I think that's been the biggest issue for [Romo] and for our football team," Garrett said. "Turnovers are a team thing. You look at every one of them, and I can go through an explanation of why they happened. Tony's certainly a part of that. But I think if you look at his play outside of that, I think he's played pretty well.

"I think he showed last year a marked improvement in taking care of the football. I think he probably threw three times as many touchdowns as he threw interceptions. Starting the first seven games of this season, it hasn't been as good. We've got to make sure we rectify it going forward, because it has such a big impact in the game."

Charean Williams


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