The Dallas Cowboys defense forced four turnover on Sunday at the Giants, marking the third straight game they've done so. Not surprisingly, all three of these were wins for the Cowboys, though not always with the support they'd like on offense.
While the Cowboys work on finding their explosiveness on offense again, the defense has returned injured players and proven it can take over games. One such player is DE DeMarcus Lawrence, who challenged Dak Prescott and this offense to score more touchdowns than the defense forced turnovers.
With a longer regular season in mind, league restrictions on practice time at this point in the year, and COVID protocols to navigate, the timing feels right for the Cowboys to spark friendly competition within The Star. In Mike McCarthy's own words, they can look ahead to the playoffs with win number ten secured, though nothing is officially clinched yet.
The Cowboys offense is fortunate Lawrence didn't take up this bet at the start of the winning streak. Dan Quinn's defense forced four turnovers and scored a touchdown of their own at the Saints, when the offense scored just twice. Both are true of the Cowboys defense in Washington as well, with the offense managing one touchdown drive. Micah Parsons forced a fumble on fourth down that Dorance Armstrong took back the other way.
Cowboys' Dak Prescott, DeMarcus Lawrence make friendly wager on TDs vs. takeaways; Dallas D jumps out to an early leadhttps://t.co/8Xv5LQaHBd pic.twitter.com/G2TEg6CxTg
Jerry Jones is aware of this competition, and told the media the best teams he's been a part of do “a little wagering”. He compared it to Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders betting on the results of two minute drills in practices. Some of these same drills may be the only time Prescott's offense gets the better of a hot Cowboys defense, with work to do in all other phases.
The easiest fix for Prescott to make up ground in the 4-2 deficit with three games remaining would be converting in the red zone. The Cowboys saw K Greg Zuerlein miss a pair of extra points at windy MetLife Stadium. Their confidence in Kellen Moore righting this offense should be significantly higher than their ability to win games with field goals in December and January.
The Cowboys were 2-5 in the red zone at the Giants, 1-6 at WFT, and 1-2 at the Saints. Scheming open looks for Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, or Michael Gallup has been a struggle. Defenses have found success in man coverage against an offense that should be much harder to line up against. Meanwhile, opposing offenses are finding the same result against a Cowboys defense that's creating pressure with waves of defensive linemen. It's the front that's set the tone for ball hawks like Trevon Diggs, Jourdan Lewis, and even most recently Malik Hooker to take the ball away.
The Washington Football Team plays at the Eagles later tonight, a game rescheduled because of COVID. This will give them short time to prepare for and visit a Cowboys team that already beat WFT 27-20 last week. The Cowboys lead 24-0 at halftime of this game, but went stagnant on offense to leave the door open for a desperate Washington team.
DeMarcus Lawrence said he hopes the Cowboys can “really blow people out” as the current NFC #2 seed prepares for the playoffs. Their first meeting with WFT was a chance to do so, and they'll visit AT&T Stadium with an outside shot at the NFC East still. To earn a sweep of New York and Washington, the Cowboys offense will have to do much better than one touchdown in six red zone trips to both finish off the East and make this friendly competition between team leaders more interesting down the stretch.