In Disastrous Outing, Cowboys Defense Provides Bright Spot

The Dallas Cowboys fell short to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday 16-8 in a game that could be described by any of the following words:

  • Frustrating
  • Disappointing
  • Baffling
  • Discouraging

Yes, there are some words that you could add that aren’t listed here and if you’d like, free to do so in the comment section. Just keep it clean. You know, for the kids. 

All of the optimism that we’ve had building for the last few months just came tumbling down like a stack of blocks being knocked over by my two-year old.

There are still 15 more regular season games left this season for the Dallas Cowboys to stake their claim to an NFC playoff spot. And that is a reason for optimism right there. There’s time to get this thing figured out.

Play on the offensive side of the football was — insert word from the above list here — and at the same time, we can be encouraged by the play on the defensive side of the ball. So if you’re looking for a bright spot from Sunday’s disappointing loss, there it is.

The defense, while not completely shutting the Carolina Panthers down did more than their share of the heavy lifting on Sunday to give the Dallas Cowboys a chance to win the football game. In my pregame prediction, I thought the Dallas Cowboys defense would hold the Carolina Panthers to 16. The defensive unit has been really coming together and they provided some of the best moments from Sunday.

A few defensive statistical highlights.

  • The Dallas Cowboys defense held Cam Newton to 161 passing yards on the day on 17/26 passing. That’s 6.19 yards per attempt. That’s a decent completion percentage from Cam (65%), though he wasn’t taking many risks with the football.
  • The Dallas defense didn’t allow a passing touchdown.
  • In 2017, the Dallas Cowboys defense allowed on average 20.75 points per game. They’re already off to a good start as they look to improve upon their defensive play of 2017.
  • While Christian McCaffrey beat the Cowboys for six catches for 45 yards, the defense held starting Wide Receivers Devin Funchess and Torrey Smith to four catches for 56 yards combined.
  • DeMarcus Lawrence, in midseason form, picked up his first sack of the season and recorded seven tackles (six solo), including three tackles for loss, and recovered a fumble.
  • As a unit, the defense held Carolina to 33% conversion rate on third downs.
  • Even more impressive was that they held the Panthers to a 40% red zone scoring rate. If you remove the final kneel downs from the equation after the Dak Prescott fumble, the number goes to 50%. Any time you can hold an opponent scoreless on half of their red zone attempts, that’s good defense.
  • The Dallas Cowboys three sacks were by three different players. According to ESPN Stats and Information, along with Lawrence’s sack, Jaylon Smith and Maliek Collins also picked up sacks on Sunday.
  • Though they didn’t always stop Carolina, the Dallas Cowboys’ defense came up with big plays when it mattered, like the Tyrone Crawford strip of Christian McCaffrey in the red zone in the first quarter.
  • One negative note is that the defense allowed 147 yards rushing on the day. Much worse than the 104 yards per game they allowed on the ground in 2017.

There are a lot of ways that the Dallas Cowboys can improve as they get ready for their week two matchup with the New York Giants, but the defense looked good on Sunday in a loss.

The Dallas Cowboys defense appears ready to take a step forward as a unit and be the leader and identity of the Dallas Cowboys football team. We can only hope that the offense shows up to do their part.

What do you think?


Written by John Williams

Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual, reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

Make sure you check out the Inside The Cowboys Podcast featuring John Williams and other analysts following America's Team.


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