ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Cowboys' defensive line came into Monday night's matchup with the Detroit Lions shorthanded, as DeMarcus Lawrence, Cedric Thornton, and Tyrone Crawford were all inactive with injuries.
That lack of numbers looked to be a serious disadvantage as the game got underway. The Lions scored touchdowns on all of their first three drives while quarterback Matthew Stafford looked comfortable finding his receivers on his favorite routes.
If that was bad, things seemed about to get worse as Ryan Davis and Terrell McClain left the game with injuries leaving the Cowboys to finish the game with only five defensive linemen: David Irving, Benson Mayowa, Jack Crawford, Randy Gregory, and Maliek Collins.
As the game went on, fatigue should have been an issue, but somehow the shorthanded defensive line became more and more effective, and Stafford was forced out of the pocket and unable to connect with his receivers.
"Five guys playing, you going to be tired," Mayowa said after the game. "We caught our second wind and we got going."
Stafford was sacked four times in the game, including 1.5 apiece from Mayowa and Irving. At one point, in the third quarter, Collins had just recorded a sack, and on the next play Stafford was hurried out of the pocket, possibly rattled by increased pressure, threw a pass on the run that was tipped by Brandon Carr before being intercepted by J.J. Wilcox.
"It's just that we practice really hard," Irving said. "I feel like are the best conditioned team in the league. So it may not show in the first or second quarter when the other team is fresh, but as the game goes on it takes a toll on them. Our speed and our conditioning just kind of wore them down slowly."