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Dallas D Needs to Force Turnovers

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    It's been an awfully long time since the Cowboys defense has given up a touchdown.

    It was the fourth quarter of their win at the Saints on Dec. 19 of last year, to be exact. That means that they have now gone three-plus regular season games without allowing an opposing offense into the end zone. That's the franchise's longest such streak since 1973-74 when the Cowboys defense went more than four straight games without giving up six points.

    That's quite impressive, even if they are only 2-1 in those three games. It's also a bit surprising. As good as the defense has been, it doesn't often find itself being discussed in the rhapsodic tones that are reserved for the most dominant defenses in the game. The Jets, for example, get a lot more buzz for their defensive skills, while coverage of the Cowboys is basically limited to panic about the state of their offense and the occasional question about David Buehler's kicking ability. 

    In pondering why that might be, thoughts drift to one spot in particular. The Cowboys, for all of their defensive prowess, haven't been all that good at forcing turnovers from the opposition. Only four teams in the NFL forced less turnovers than the Cowboys did in 2009 which followed a subpar year in 2008 and made Sunday night's doughnut unsurprising. The lack of turnovers obviously doesn't mean that they aren't a good defense, but it makes them a less interesting one and that results in a lot less coverage.

    It also means that there's room for the unit to be even better this season. Turnovers mean short fields and short fields tend to make life easier on the offense. The Cowboys routinely start drives deep in their own territory, a state of affairs that helps explain why they are constantly piling up huge amounts of yardage without putting up too many points.

    The absence of those turnovers is puzzling because it isn't like the Cowboys aren't capable of pressuring offenses. They always do well with their pass rush and that usually leads to interceptions and fumbles from quarterbacks worried about DeMarcus Ware turning them into Joe Theisman. And, yet, nothing ever seems to come from it.

    That could/should change on Sunday. The Bears are as fond of turning the ball over as Chicago politicians are of winding up on the wrong side of ethics investigations. Jay Cutler throws interceptions like he's unaware that it actually matters which team is catching your passes. They gave the ball away four times against the Lions last week and there's no reason to believe they are going to start being more protective this week.

    No reason, that is, other than the fact that they're playing the Cowboys.

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