ARLINGTON, Texas – Typically, there's only room in the box score for one big day.
Takeaways are hard to get in this league, and interceptions even more so. When the Cowboys manage to get them, it's usually just one, maybe two guys getting game balls afterward.
Imagine the reaction, then, when the Cowboys not only get three interceptions in a game – the first time that's happened since 2010 – but they also get them from all three of their starting corners.
"That just felt amazing," said Anthony Brown. "It's the first time that happened since I've been here."
With respect to Brown, it's the first time that's happened in many careers. The last time the Cowboys got three interceptions from their primary cornerbacks was almost 33 years ago, when Everson Walls, Robert Williams and Manny Hendrix pulled it off against Washington in 1988.
"Everybody trains," said Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy. "I would say we spent a high amount of time, even compared to former teams, as far as the amount of time we spend on the skill of it."
McCarthy noted to reporters that he's more concerned with creating opportunities than anything. But as longtime followers of this team can attest, the Cowboys have often struggled to finish those opportunities and turn them into takeaways. That's something defensive coordinator Dan Quinn credited secondary coaches Joe Whitt Jr. and Al Harris with helping to fix.
"We make it such a premium, from the secondary and from Joe and Al, they really emphasize it," Quinn said. "You see it in practice, so it's good to see it coming from practice into the game."
Of course, Trevon Diggs was bound to have his moment here. After two down games, Diggs added to his NFL interception lead by picking off Matt Ryan on a pass intended for Kyle Pitts in the third quarter.
"Shake back," Diggs said. "Just getting back to the basics. It's the little details that I was missing out on. You've got to stay on your details to stay sharp."
Eight interceptions in nine games speaks for itself. But the fun thing about this performance was that Diggs didn't need to dominate the headlines the same way he has all year.
From the beginning of the afternoon, Jourdan Lewis set a standard that made it known yards wouldn't be hard to come by. The Cowboys' slot corner is one of the smaller players on the field at any given time, not that it matters. Lewis broke up back-to-back passes on Atlanta's second possession of the day – one of which came against 6'6 Kyle Pitts – to force a turnover on downs that set the tone.
"Coach talked about the energy we needed to play with and the standard that we needed to play to," Lewis said. "I feel like we had that going with the first drive and continued throughout the rest of the game."
Lewis' three tackles and three breakups would've been a sneaky good day at the office, but it was a fitting cherry on the sundae that he finished with a diving pick of his own against Josh Rosen in the fourth quarter.
Interceptions aren't everything, but for a position that's so routinely judged by them, they're also never a bad thing.
"We're corners, so we're based off interceptions or what you give up," Brown said. "The interceptions are the flash plays. The PBUs are the, you grind, every day go to work, get it out of the mud type plays. Everybody loves picks."
Speaking of, it was Brown who turned in probably the most impressive pick of the day. The Falcons were already trailing by 30, but driving toward the Cowboys' red zone early in the third quarter, when Brown read Matt Ryan's eyes perfectly.
It's not just that Brown broke on the curl route, intended for receiver Olamide Zaccheaus, or even got his hands on the ball. Even more impressive than that, Brown managed to bat the ricochet to himself and bring it in on the tip drill – a skillset he insisted he had in his bag all along.
"Once I saw the ball was still in the air, with my reach, I knew I had an opportunity to get it," he said.
Thanks to Diggs' weekly heroics, the Cowboys are already in rare territory in the takeaway department. This performance only emphasizes that any of their cornerbacks can do the same. In fact, of this team's 14 total interceptions, the cornerback trio accounts for an impressive 13 – the only outlier being Damontae Kazee's Week 2 pick of Justin Herbert.
"It's a group full of dogs," Lewis said. "We love playing with each other, we love competing with each other. You can see from AB to Trevon to all of us, we're just competing against ourselves trying to get better and dominate."
Opponents have learned the hard way that maybe they shouldn't throw at Diggs. The problem now becomes: is there anywhere else they can throw?