During some very light research for a story on Anthony Spencer Wednesday, what stuck out most was the outside linebacker's ability to punch out the football in 2012.
Spencer led the Cowboys with four forced fumbles, twice as many as anyone else on the defense. That a player could strip as many balls is probably not happenstance, either, as the league's leaders in forced fumbles include most of the best front-seven defenders in the league. Only four players had more than Spencer, Baltimore's Terrell Suggs, Detroit's Cliff Avril, Quintin Mikell of St. Louis and Jabaal Sheard of Cleveland.
Ten other players ripped out as many balls as Spencer, including Patrick Willis, Jared Allen, John Abraham, Tamba Hali and Kyle Vanden Bosch.
In short, forcing and recovering fumbles is something the best defenders and the best defensive units do well, and Spencer was the only Cowboys player who did it on an exceptional level in 2011.
DeMarcus Ware and Gerald Sensabaugh were the only other Cowboys to even register multiple forced fumbles, each finishing with two. Ware's numbers have steadily dropped since he had a career-high six strips in 2008.
As a team, the Cowboys recovered just nine fumbles in 2011. Compare that to 15 for San Francisco and Minnesota, who tied for the league-lead. Detroit was third, with 13.
Baltimore forced the most fumbles of any team, 21.