The Dallas Cowboys offense finally exploded with a scoring burst but the defense made sure it wasn’t even necessary.
The Cowboys held the Jacksonville Jaguars to a season-low 204 yards and 10 first downs en route to a 40-7 thrashing at AT&T Stadium. It’s the third-fewest yards allowed by Dallas since September 2012.
The dominating defensive performance comes on the heels of last week’s season-high 462 yards allowed in the overtime loss to the Texans. Jacksonville had gained more than 500 yards in each of its two previous games. The Jaguars’ defense entered the game with the higher ratings, especially it’s No. 1- ranked pass defense. That served as added inspiration for the defense, linebacker Jaylon Smith said.
“We just understand that we’re an elite defense as well,” said Smith, who had nine tackles and a forced fumble, one of two takeaways for Dallas. “Whenever you step on the field you want to dominate your opponent. Playing against another great defense only adds fuel to the fire.”
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Defensive lineman David Irving, in his 2018 debut and first game since Nov. 30, 2017, made his presence known early in the game with a quarterback hurry. He had two tackles, including a tackle for a loss.
“It feels good getting back out here,” Irving said. “I got a little winded. I didn’t do as much as I would have hoped. It felt good to be back out there with my boys.”
Irving’s return allowed for others nursing injuries to play less, including DeMarcus Lawrence, who said he only played 25 snaps.
“His presence alone is tremendous,” Smith said. “He’s a Hot Boy and we’re happy to have him back.”
For the second consecutive week the Cowboys forced two turnovers. Jeff Heath’s interception on a poorly-thrown pass into triple coverage by Blake Bortles set up the offense at the Jags 8 after a 35-yard return. That set up a field goal that gave Dallas a 30-7 lead with 1:22 left in the third quarter. Bortles was held to 149 yards passing, the fewest allowed by Dallas this season.
“The offense put us in a great position to be able to play our style of ball,” Heath said. “We had a lead early and once you know teams have to throw the ball it takes a lot of the guesswork out of it. There’s no more run-pass keys. It’s guys up front pinning their ears back and going after the quarterback and the guys on the back end just cover. That’s our formula. If we play like that in all three phases for the rest of the year I like our chances.”