IRVING, Texas – Brandon Carr did not have to think very long when asked about the last time the Cowboys' secondary had played as well as it did against the Titans.
"Sometime last season, early on," he said. "With performances like this early in the season – keep yourself humble, but at the same time, stay hungry."
The Dallas defense harassed Jake Locker into a forgettable afternoon at LP Field on Sunday, as the Cowboys allowed just one touchdown in their 26-10 win. Locker completed just 53 percent of his passes and threw two picks. He passed for a pedestrian 234 yards – 74 of which came late in the fourth quarter, with the game all but decided.
Carr didn't reference it specifically, but he was undoubtedly referring to his team's 17-3 whitewashing of Philadelphia on Oct. 20 of last season – all the way back in Week 7. The wheels came off after that, with Pro Bowl names like Calvin Johnson and Drew Brees, as well as no-names like Josh McCown and Matt Flynn, torching Dallas down the stretch.
In that Eagles game, however, the Cowboys shined. They limited Foles, an eventual Pro Bowler, to a measly 80 yards, and they sacked him three times. They intercepted his replacement, then-rookie Matt Barkley, three times.
From the visitors' locker room, Carr mentioned some similarities between that win and this one.
"The guys up front set the tone early, getting after the quarterback – he wasn't comfortable today," he said. "On the back end … We just went out there and did what we do best, which is lock guys up and try to cover them up the whole game."
It's an incredibly small sample size, but the Cowboys are allowing an average of 217 passing yards per game. Carr said there are plenty of positives, but also plenty to work on – such as Anquan Boldin's eight catches for 99 yards in Week 1, or Delanie Walker's 61-yard touchdown romp on Sunday.
"Keep building off the positives from the game, and as always, there's always things to clean up on film," Carr said. "There's always new ways to attack you, so self-scout, get yourself cleaned up for St. Louis."
Perhaps most impressive to this point is that the secondary has handled itself fairly well without Orlando Scandrick – its best player from the 2013 season. Scandrick might be able to return to the team earlier than [embedded_ad]
expected, pending recent changes to the league's drug policy.
"Once he gets back, hopefully we'll just plug him in and keep going," Carr said. "But as a defense, man, you know it's the next man up mentality. We have guys in our room who have been around and been with us, been in the league, playing significant downs. The confidence is there."
To this point, that confidence has shown through. Barry Church grabbed the group's first interception of the season Sunday, and defensive backs accounted for six of the team's nine passes defensed against Locker.
It remains to be seen if that is more of a trend or an aberration. But after so many struggles during the tail end of 2013, Carr said it's good to see the preparation pay off.
"It's just all the hours of hard work and the hours of getting drilled into your head over where you're supposed to be and the countless times we've messed it up," he said. "We've looked awful sometimes, but you just have to keep fighting, keep on believing, keep on leaning on coaches, leaning on players as far as just learning assignments, learning where I should be."