Any observer can see that the Cowboys have been hurt by turnovers on offense. When looking at the team even closer, the lack of turnovers created by the defense has been a downfall of this team as well. Committing turnovers and forcing turnovers have been problems all season. The offense commits multiple turnovers in the worst of scenarios, while the defense hold offenses to limited yardage, but never gets their hands on the ball.
The Cowboys are coming off a six turnover performance (four interceptions, two fumbles) against the New York Giants. Out of the six turnovers five resulted in points for the Giants. The Giants scored 26 of their 29 points following a Dallas turnover. Now only was the number of turnovers glaring, but where the turnovers took place was even worse. Three of quarterback Tony Romo’s four interceptions occurred in Dallas territory, including, the most heart breaking, a pick-six by defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul before the end of the first quarter. Both fumbles occurred close to mid field and led to Giants scores as well.
Turnovers are bad enough, turnovers that lead to points are even worse, but the most upsetting thing about the Cowboys turnover problems last Sunday were the players involved in the production of those turnovers. Obviously, Tony Romo gets credit for the four interceptions, being the quarterback. In reality however, only two of those interceptions can be placed solely on his shoulders. One was a miscommunication with Dez Bryant (stop me if I sound like a broken record) and another interception was just an amazing play by Jason Pierre-Paul. The fore mentioned Bryant added to his miscues by muffing a punt, resulting in one of the fumbles and Felix Jones added to his disappointing Cowboys career by fumbling late in the fourth quarter. Felix Jones may have written his ticket out of town, because his fumble led to a field goal that gave the Giants a four point lead, as the Cowboys were driving for a potential game winning field goal. The fumble and field goal by the Giants lead to the need for the late game heroics that we saw that ended with the Cowboys just a fingernail away from snatching victory from defeat.
The offensive turnovers could have been much more catastrophic for the Cowboys if the defense had not held the Giants to field goals rather than touchdowns. All season long the Cowboys defense has been at the top of the NFL in yardage allowed, but the problem is that they have been towards the bottom in turnover production. Against the Giants on Sunday they almost doubled their amount of turnovers in one game as they have created all season.The Cowboys finally got an interception from a defensive back, previously their leader in interceptions was Sean L with one. Lee a middle linebacker is currently on the injured reserve and done for the season. In the third quarter on Sunday, nickle cornerback Danny McCray intercepted an Eli Manning pass. This was the second interception of the season for the Dallas Defense. In the offseason the Cowboy spent free agency and the Draft in an opportunity to upgrade the secondary. Brandon Carr was signed from Kansas City and the Cowboys traded up in the Draft to get Morris Claiborne out of LSU. To this point in the season neither Carr or Claiborne have intercepted a pass, but the Cowboys do post a top ranked defense in passing yards allowed. Claiborne was however involved in the recovery of a fumble to end the first quarter on Sunday against the Giants.
This coming Sunday the Cowboys play the Atlanta Falcons. Along with being undefeated the Falcons have also been one of the best teams in terms of turnovers ratio. In an earlier game this season on Monday Night Football against the Denver Broncos, the Falcons defense intercepted Peyton Manning three times in the first half. The Falcons also rely on a strong running game behind Michael Turner, who has been one of the best at not fumbling in his career as the running back in Atlanta.
The Cowboys have struggled all year with turnovers. Committing turnovers on offense and generating them on defense have been major concerns for Dallas. The last game against New York was an example as the same cast of characters were responsible for six turnovers leading to 26 points for the New York Giants. The Dallas defense again did their best job to hold teams out of the endzone, but their turnovers resulted in zero points for the Cowboys. This week the Cowboys face an opportunistic Falcons team. If the Cowboys want to leave Georgia victorious, they will have to protect the football and force the undefeated Falcons to make uncharacteristic mistakes.