Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys intend to remain stingy in December by protecting ball

Running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) fumbled against the Redskins in Week 2, but the Cowboys’ ball protection is among the biggest reasons they are 11-1.
Running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) fumbled against the Redskins in Week 2, but the Cowboys’ ball protection is among the biggest reasons they are 11-1. rmallison@star-telegram.com

The best thing the Cowboys have done this season is protect the football. They rank second in the NFL for fewest giveaways with seven. Buffalo has six.

“It’s really one of the biggest reasons why we’re winning,” tight end Jason Witten said. “Certainly Dak [Prescott has] done a really good job of taking care of the ball. Zeke [Elliott] has, the receivers, everybody who’s touching the ball. We’ve made a commitment to that, as does every team. At the end of the day, there’s a million different things that can happen in the course of the game with a ball. At the end of it, you just want to have the result of we’re not turning it over. That’s been big for our winning formula coach talks about, and it’s going to need to be moving forward as the season goes on. And it’s the most important thing, being able to secure it. We work it all the time. So it’s good to see that paying off. I think it helps, guys blocking downfield, doing all the extra stuff so that a guy can’t sneak in there and get it. You can’t just build off what happened before. You’ve got to continue to do it going forward.”

The Cowboys are on pace for 10 giveaways with this season. The team record for fewest in a season is the 15 the 1998 team had.

In six games this season, the Cowboys had no turnovers.

“No question we have done an excellent job taking care of the football offensively, not only the quarterback but the guys carrying the football,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “That has given us a great opportunity to stay on the plus side of the ledger in turnover ratio. Typically that gives you a good chance to win. We need to take the ball away more. We haven’t done a good job. We haven’t done a good job of that the last three or four ball games. For the most part we have done a good job taking care of the ball. Quarterback decision-making, the guys blocking and protecting has been a real positive impact on our ability to secure the football. Taking care of the ball is a team thing. Everybody has a piece of it.

“We really try to preach that. The ball carries have done a good job of that up to this point.”

The Vikings’ 20 takeaways ties them for second most in the NFL behind only the Chiefs (24). Prescott, who has thrown only two interceptions, might find tighter windows than he has seen this season.

“We’ve got to continue to do the things we’ve been able to do so far as far as playing winning football and that starts with the ball,” offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. “…They have great players on defense. They get a lot of people around the football. Teams that play hard and hustle and get lots of guys around the ball, good things happen for them. We’ve got to be as good about our ability to get people around the football, protect the ball carriers and ultimately play aggressive football without getting loose with it.”

  Comments