With the Dallas Cowboys struggling for much of the first half, the Blake Jarwin touchdown to pull them within two with about a minute to go was huge for the team. Xavier Woods’ interception that led to Brett Maher’s go-ahead field goal just before halftime was just as big.
Woods, who’s been expected to take a big jump this year in his second full season as the Cowboys starting free safety has been good, but he hasn’t been taking the ball away. That was something that he had a knack for coming out of Louisiana Tech and that ability has been something that’s been sorely needed on this Dallas Cowboys defense. Well, he showed up in a big way on Monday Night Football.
The interception and the 29-yard return to the New York Giants 39 yard line put the Dallas Cowboys in position to get more points at the end of the first half, which they were able to do.
Early in the second half, with the game still very much in doubt, Daniel Jones scrambled and looked like he was about to pick up a tough first down to extend the Giants drive on third down. Unfortunately for Jones and the Giants, Xavier Woods had other ideas.
Woods’ physicality on the play forced Jones to cough up the football, which was then recovered by Darian Thompson and led to another Brett Maher field goal and a 16-12 lead.
Those two plays were huge for the defense and just as important for an offense that was having to settle for more field goals than they would have liked. Taking the ball away has been the one thing that has held the Cowboys defense from becoming one of the NFL’s elite in recent years. With Woods two turnovers forced (and the team’s three total), the Cowboys have forced now forced seven in their last two games after forcing only five turnovers through the first six games.
If Xavier Woods can continue to play with this kind of physical and game-changing demeanor, it will be huge for the Dallas Cowboys moving forward. With this defense’s ability to rush the passer and slow the run, if the Cowboys can continue to take the ball away at this rate, they’ll be very difficult to beat moving forward.
The Dallas Cowboys need Woods to be this type of impact player on defense and he delivered in a big way on Monday Night Football.