FRISCO, Texas – It's a strange thing to type, but perhaps that's to be expected in 2020.
The Cowboys are coming off their finest defensive performance of the season here in Week 9, and a big part of that is due to the play of their secondary in Philadelphia.
"I think this was our best defensive game," said Trevon Diggs. "We made a lot of plays and we were out there competing and fighting hard and I think it was by far one of our best performances."
Diggs is fittingly the face of that performance, considering he enjoyed a breakout game against Carson Wentz. The rookie did allow two passing touchdowns, but he also took over the team lead for interceptions by notching two in the same game.
The performance was good enough to catch the eye of Diggs' next challenger, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
"You watch Diggs get his two interceptions last week, looking like a wide receiver making those plays," Roethlisberger said. "They're a team that definitely is aware of the ball and try to make that play, the good play, even better by turning it over."
That comment is at least a little bit ironic, given the course of this season. The Cowboys did force four turnovers against the Eagles, but they had just three on the year entering the game. Prior to Diggs' two picks, Chidobe Awuzie had the team's only interception – and he hasn't played since Week 2.
The Steelers might not be the same high-flying offense from previous years, but Roethlisberger has protected the football well this season in addition to throwing touchdowns. Coming into this week, he has thrown multiple touchdowns in six of seven games. He has also only thrown four interceptions, with three of those coming in one game against Tennessee.
"The quarterback is extraordinary," said Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy. "He has played a ton football. He is a Super bowl champion. He is back playing at a high level."
Suffice to say, building on a strong performance will be a challenge. Hopefully, Awuzie can return from his hamstring injury to help with that challenge, though McCarthy was unwilling to forecast that possibility until he sees the veteran practice this week.
There will be plenty of work to go around, regardless. JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson have developed into a talented tandem, with six combined touchdowns on the season. Meanwhile, Chase Claypool is easily one of the most impressive rookies of the season. The second-round draft pick has 375 yards and five touchdowns on just 23 catches, with two rushing scores to add to the tally.
"They've got good outside receivers and it's going to be a good matchup," Diggs said. "It's going to be a good test for everyone going out there and competing. So, it's a good offense, undefeated team, so, we got to go out there and compete."