The Dallas Cowboys’ defense has given up more yards in a game this season but something about the way the Tennessee Titans moved the ball the final three quarters it seemed as if they were setting a season-high.
Their 28 points in Monday’s 28-14 win over the Cowboys Monday night are the most Dallas has allowed this season.
“Yeah, it’s shocking,” Cowboys’ Tyrone Crawford said. “We started off fast, had some turnovers. We were excited and kind of maybe let that get the best of us and we didn’t control that the whole game.”
After a slow start in which they fumbled on their first two drives, the Titans regrouped and gained 289 of their 340 total yards in the final three quarters. By contract, the Cowboys finished with 297 total yards.
It was a thud performance for a defense which has been the most stable aspect of the team. After a mostly dominating September, the Cowboys’ defense is wavering a bit. Tennessee’s 340 yards are the third-most given up by Dallas this season. All four games in which the Cowboys have allowed more than 300 yards have come since Sept. 30. Before, however, they’ve been able to limit teams to field goals. That wasn’t the case Monday night. The Titans scored touchdowns on two runs and two passes, three of which came inside the 10-yard line.
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“But when it died down and it was time to just play football, we weren’t the better team tonight,” Linebacker Jaylon Smith said. “We didn’t get off the field on third downs tonight. That’s something we’ve prided ourselves on. We have eight games left; we have to get it right.”
Most damaging for the Dallas’ defense? Third down conversions. Tennessee converted 11 of 14 third downs, which kept them on the field longer. Only Houston gained more first downs (25) against Dallas than the Titans’ 24. Tennessee’s 34:26 time of possession is the most allowed by Dallas through eight games.
To add to the misery, linebacker Sean Lee left the game early in the second half with another hamstring injury and is likely to miss more time. A hamstring injury sidelined Lee for three games earlier this season.
“We just have to look at it as what team do we want to be,” Corner back Byron Joens said. “Do we want to show up as the team in the first quarter or the imposters in the second half?”