FRISCO, Texas — The Dallas defense suffered one of its worst outings under defensive coordinator Dan Quinn on a road trip to Buffalo three weeks ago, and the rhetoric coming out of that loss was the defensive unit seeing that they needed to be more aggressive in taking the ball away and more disciplined in the run game.
Since then, both of those things have come to fruition and it has allowed the unit to give up just 17 points per game and help push the Cowboys to an NFC East title down the stretch. In those three games, the Cowboys are allowing only 88.7 rushing yards per game and have forced five turnovers.
"We're definitely hitting our stride at the right time," safety Jayron Kearse said. "You want to be playing your best ball when you get to that dance, and these past two weeks we've been hitting our stride. In order to keep that up, guys just keep doing what they're doing. I don't think anyone went in and did anything different. We got back to the basics and it worked."
For Dan Quinn, the opportunity to bounce back in the latter weeks of the season has allowed Dallas to right wrongs and build confidence going into the win-or-go-home part of the season, even if he feels like there's more room to grow.
"I think we're making that progress," Quinn said. "We've been talking about sharpening the ax. We'll get tested again. That's why going into the postseason, you have to have all of your s— together."
While the defense expects a strong postseason from themselves – starting this week against the Green Bay Packers – they also know a strong unit awaits on the other side to help pick them up, just as they do for the offense at times as well.
"What gives me hope is, I know what we can do on our side of the ball with the guys we have, but we have 4 and 88," Kearse said, alluding to Dak Prescott and CeeDee Lamb, respectively. "That's enough hope for me when they're playing the way they're playing. I believe that's the best quarterback-receiver duo in the league. The numbers say so as well. As long as we do our part on defense, I know those guys will continue to cook."
The opportunity awaits this week for the defensive unit to make its first big postseason impression against the Packers, and it's something that the unit is relishing in early on in the week. Even as the celebration carried into the night sky on the team's ride back to Dallas on Sunday night, the look ahead happened almost simultaneously.
"We were definitely already on Green Bay," Kearse said. "There was a lot of excitement on that plane. We were gonna enjoy it on our way back to Dallas, but now that we're back in the building, it's all Green Bay. This is a work week now."