"You are not always going to be your best, everything is not always going to be clicking, but you have to try to find a way to win."
In my books, on this day, it's Dee-fense ... Dee-fense ... Dee-fense ... that should be the chant come Sunday if the Cowboys Stadium faithful either has gotten enough sleep the night before to turn rowdy for a mere noon game or arrived early enough to prepare properly over breakfast to make a nuisance of themselves.
Because while the Cowboys defense has been good so far - not since Nov. 21 of last year has the unit given up no more than 24 points in consecutive games as its has the past two and only in the final two games of last year did the Cowboys defense hold opponents to less than 300 yards offense in consecutive games as it has the past two - these guys will have to be even better on Sunday.
This time though, remember, it's the Lions. Homeboy Matthew Stafford already has nine touchdown passes, just intercepted twice, is averaging 325.6 yards passing a game and has a QB rating of 110.7, with only Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers owning a higher one. He mostly throws to Megatron, you know, Calvin Johnson, the freakishly good receiver, one who's 6-5, 236 and runs like a mother moose protecting the young. He already has 16 catches for 225 yards, and six of those account for two-thirds of Stafford's TD passes, a ridiculous 32-touchdown pace for the season.
That alone is the best passing combination the Cowboys have faced all season, certainly better than Rex Grossman to Santana Moss or Alex Smith to Braylon Edwards or Mark Sanchez to Santonio Holmes. Then throw in a tight end such as Brandon Pettigrew, who also has 16 catches in three games, and a secondary that was mostly torched last year will have its hands full.
But again, as Garrett says, "There are ways to win these games."
Pressure, pressure, pressure.
Once the Cowboys get that Lions running game under control, and that shouldn't be too difficult for a defense that's yielded no more than 74 rushing yards in any of the first three games going against an offense averaging 2.8 yards a carry, then it's time to get after Stafford. Hey, Minnesota did last Sunday, sacking him four times and hitting him countless other. And for good reason since the Lions have been struggling at offensive tackle, and that's plural.
Plus, don't these Cowboys lead the league in sacks? They have 13 in three games, on pace for an unlikely 70, which would double last year's meager total of 35. Don't they have the league's sack leader, DeMarcus Ware with five and on pace after three games for an unheard of 30. And didn't you think Terence Newman played a heckuva game in his first one back Monday night? And Sean Lee? And Anthony Spencer?
And by the way, knowing the Lions have won their last seven, you realize how close the Cowboys are to having won their last six games instead of five of the past seven? Try the overtime loss to the Jets and the one-pointer last season on Christmas Day at Arizona (missed extra point). Not too shabby themselves.
So, and I know this Cowboys offense is beat up, and actually won a game Monday night without the benefit of scoring a touchdown, a first since 2001 and only a sixth in club history, but if the defense plays up to snuff, maybe Garrett can continue to celebrate field goals - continue to lean on his defense and rookie kicker. "Obviously you want to score touchdowns, but you don't want negative things to happen," Garrett said of managing a game, like conservatively calling three running plays inside the 10 against the Skins and settling for three points to the boos of his gathered critics. "And I think we did a good job of cashing in and playing to our defense and playing field position with our special teams."
Yes, a "great test."
Defense, here's your blue book. You may begin.