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Was The Cowboys Defense Actually Any Better Vs. The Bengals?

For the first time this season the Cowboys completed a wire-to-wire win on Sunday, defeating the two-win Bengals, 30-7.

Despite holding similar records, this game never felt competitive, with the Cowboys having a clear talent advantage in some key areas. The story of the game were the three first half takeaways, however, as the Cowboys’ positive turnover regression hit harder than Donovan Wilson over the middle.

Three fumbles on their first three possessions led to a quick 17-0 lead for the Cowboys, but did their defense actually show signs of life in this win?

DeMarcus Lawrence certainly did.

The Bengals offensive line had no answer for Tank Lawrence, who finished with a tackle for loss and a forced fumble in the win. He was nearly unblockable in the first half, causing havoc for Brandon Allen and the Bengals offense.

Aldon Smith
Dallas Cowboys defensive end Aldon Smith (58) returns a fumble for a touchdown in the first half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Cincinnati, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)

I can even let the Cowboys secondary off the hook for their performance. Though it felt like Tee Higgins and AJ Green could get anything they wanted through the air, Dallas’ extremely banged up secondary held up okay for much of the game. And considering they were missing each of their top three cornerbacks, it’s hard to be too demanding of the group.

The interior of this defensive line, though, continues to be putrid.

At times a Neville Gallimore or an Antwaun Woods may flash, but those flashes are few and far between. These defensive tackles cannot get off blocks, failing to create penetration against the run and pressure against the pass. Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith have caught a lot of deserved criticism this season for their poor run fits and inability to defeat blocks, but these defensive tackles do them no favors.

As a fan, this was a nice for the Cowboys.

For the first time this year they came out and beat up on an inferior team. But do not let Jerry and Stephen Jones lie to you this week. This defense did not turn a corner on Sunday. In fact, they allowed way too much yardage and gave too much bend against an awful Bengals offense.

This remains a front-running unit that, when things are good, can pile on opponents. But when things go the other way…

Well, the rest of the 2020 season happens.

What do you think?

Kevin Brady

Written by Kevin Brady

Die-hard Cowboys fan from the Northeast, so you know I am here to defend the 'boys whenever necessary. Began writing for a WordPress Cowboys Blog, and have been with ITS since 2016.

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  1. We should all be aware BY NOW, the DT and LB positions are big problem spots. Do not understand these mocks showing Cowboys picking a CB first. CB class is pretty deep, so can draft a solid one later, maybe a Derion Kendrick out of Clem, or an E Stokes out of UGA.. Sign Chido, and/or Lewis, and along with Diggs and Brown, the CB position is not a big problems, IMO. If we don’t trade DP, and get a QB, then pick up Parsons. Why not take the best defensive player in the draft. Besides that, we keep him away from division foes.

    The defense was opportunistic Sunday, which is not a bad thing. If we don’t get TOs, people will criticize, when we do get TOs then, well lets not complain too much. Good team win, let’s be happy about that.

    A win, is a win, is a win!

  2. Offensive tackle aside I think the entire draft and free agent search needs to be devoted to the defense. We need a run stuffer and someone who can collapse the pocket up the middle. Corner is a need as several are free agents leave after this year. A ball hawk safety has been a need for years. Finally a new defensive coach… Nolan has been a disaster. Surely a full offseason would have benefitted, but the current personnel clearly do not fit Nolan’s scheme. It was not a good decision in a year where Dallas was supposed to compete for a Super Bowl birth to bring in a coach who who would completely revamp the defensive philosophy. Covid was unforeseen, but even so it was an unnecessary change…and it was not like Nolan had much of a track record to begin with.

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