Cowboys defense did turn a corner… although it wasn’t enough

Dallas Cowboys middle linebacker Jaylon Smith (Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)
Dallas Cowboys middle linebacker Jaylon Smith (Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Dallas Cowboys defense has improved greatly from week to week

The Dallas Cowboys lost another game this past Sunday. What’s new? Not a lot, as that’s been the case for most of the season now. However, there was something, sort of, new to it all.

Just last week, we had three questions to ask heading into that game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. One of them was if the Cowboys defense had seemingly turned a corner, as they weren’t putrid or awful against Philadelphia.

They weren’t great either, by any measure and although Carson Wentz’s Philadelphia Eagles have their own offensive struggles to worry about, that Dallas defense was better than we had been seeing. The same thing continued this week against Pittsburgh.

It’s safe to say that the question we asked was answered. Yes, they have turned a corner.

To put a chink in the collective armor of your rebuttals already, yes, that Pittsburgh offense wasn’t clicking on all cylinders, similar to what they had done a week prior. However, that was against the Baltimore Ravens squad that currently ranks as the eighth-best defense in the game.

Many would say that “they were supposed to struggle against Baltimore”. Then though, I would ask this.

How can you explain what Dallas was able to accomplish on that side of the ball? They made plays, they forced three and outs, and they should have forced at least one more turnover (we will address that near the end).

The Dallas Cowboy defense has progressively better in the last two weeks. It may be too late though.

You also heard a Cowboys Legend (yea, I said it, a “Legend”), in Tony Romo, notate how he saw them condensing the space or gaps along their defensive front to help with the run defense. It worked!

You hope that is something that they can continue to use and execute, as if they were able to have that much success against the Steelers with it, it should be at least halfway successful against anyone. It doesn’t matter how they got it done though, it matters that they got it done.

Again, my question was answered. The defense did turn a corner, but it wasn’t enough to win the game, as we all know.

Here’s where my gripes start though. I tend not to play this game, as both teams have chances to win the games and both teams have a lot of control over their own fates, but let’s be real.

The Cowboys were the better team on Sunday. If they had not been playing 11 on 14 for the entire game, the final score would have reflected it.

Yes, Garrett Gilbert (who many of you trashed all week, we didn’t forget) threw a pick in the red zone, but if he would have scored, the referees would have found a way to give Pittsburgh the opportunity to make up for it. They did it for each and every other score throughout the game it seems.

When you have the calls on Jaylon Smith that you had, two roughing calls that they wouldn’t have called on the Steelers and didn’t call, how can you overcome that? When you have a receiver fall to the ground after tripping over his own feet, although Jaylon made him feel him, how can you overcome that?

Smith was facing the quarterback and playing his eyes, he couldn’t have possibly hit him hard enough to knock him off of his route. Besides, aren’t defenders entitled to their own spaces on the field as well? At least I thought so.

The Leighton Vander Esch call was probably the worst of them all. Listen, when you have a guy with a history of spine or neck injuries, who then has a guy yanking, stuck, or whatever to his facemask in a physical game like football, you can’t expect the removal process to be soft.

Besides, he wasn’t throwing a blow and it was pretty clear and obvious looking at the replay. They always call the second guy, I know that’s how it goes, but that still didn’t make that particular play the right call.

The Cowboys made mistakes in crucial moments, but they did enough to win the game and should have.

This isn’t about that though. In a season that seems all but lost, you can only care about winning a game, unless your motivation is getting as high a pick as you can.

In that case, it was a proverbial win for you. I am not there yet and it’s good to see some fight left in the team and especially on that side of the ball.

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As much as we all want to give up on the season, as we know we aren’t fit to make noise in the postseason, that chance isn’t gone with a horrible division to contend with. The Cowboys defense apparently has figured some things out and who knows, they might just win a few more ball games because of it.